The Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, has alleged that the Nigerian government has made members of the Boko Haram insurgents richer through ransom.
Mr Kukah said there was urgent need for the government to accommodate the complaints of the aggrieved persons and put human face to ending activities of the insurgents in the North-East.
The Bishop, in a chat during a Channels TV programme, ‘Hard Copy’ on Sunday, lamented that the government had reduced the fight against terrorism to only military operations and failed to address the roots of the problem.
He said, “Why do we assume that security is just about guns and bullets? When Boko Haram started, I published an article titled ‘Breath not Bullets.’ I made a point that we would probably spill into a time when we would not be able to contain ourselves when those conflicts become a military operation.
“The first problem is that it is becoming capital intensive. The second problem is the human angle to the conflict. What is it that has made a decent human being to take up arm against his country?
“The problem we have is that the government has turned the Boko Haram war into military operations and turning the concept of security into guns and bullets.
“The question is that what is it that has been producing this discontentment? Why has the northern Nigerian become the centre of fire? We have failed to ask the right questions
“I have said it several times, we could close the window on Boko Haram today, but what is going to happen next we don’t know.
“The point I am making is that a country has to have high quality of listening devices about the voices of the weakest; about how people are hurt and what people are interested in.”
He said the Dapchi schoolgirls’ abduction nullified the claim that Boko Haram had been weakened and called for comprehensive dialogue with the terrorists.
Mr Kukah said: “Those with superior information and superior knowledge, which is what the government is all about, know something that the rest of those don’t.
“There is no war that has ended whereby everybody is declaring victory and going home. It has never happened; everybody has ended up around the table.
“When it comes to closing a conversation of that nature, you have to have a screening system. There are people who will tell you people found themselves in Boko Haram by all kinds of means; some voluntarily went there while some were compelled to go there.
“There are criminals who got into the game and there are some of them who have done terrible and horrible things. Their numbers, leaders and so on, have to be taken together.
“There is no way we can end the conflict without carrot; it is not possible.
“We say they are no longer holding our territory, but if they can come and take away this number of children, now the Boko Haram is richer than it was. Who knows what they are going to do with the money they have collected.”