Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has on Monday narrated the encounter he had with Boko Haram members when he visited them in Maiduguri in 2011.
Speaking at the 2022 annual lecture of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation MMF, with the theme, ‘Beyond Boko Haram: Addressing Insurgency, Banditry and Kidnapping across Nigeria’, Obasanjo said the government has failed to act enough in handling the insurgents.
He said the sect did not have an external link at the time he visited them, but the poor handling of the situation on the part of the government made the crisis go beyond control.
He also blamed the country’s security woes on the ease to access weapons after the Nigerian civil war which he said unable government to address the issue due to the proliferation of arms.
“In 2011 when Boko Haram was just rearing its ugly head, I went to Maiduguri to try and find out a little bit more about Boko Haram and to also find out what their objective was apart from being interested in Sharia, they also complained that their followers had no job and, in their effort, get something legitimate efforts to help their members.
“In the process, the government started chasing them and gunning them down. What I feared at that time seemed to have been happening at that time, Boko Haram had not many external connections then; the ones they had would be Nigerians who had resources abroad, who were helping them.” Obasanjo stated.
Recall that the former President had visited the family house of late Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram sect in Maiduguri, Borno State in 2011 and met with Babakura Fugu, the late Yusuf’s brother-in-law, and Obasanjo was quoted to have said, “I urge you to forgive and forget the past. I plead with you, give me the chance to mediate between the family and government.”
While responding, Babakura Fugu said, “Since 2009, this is the first time any high-profile figure would be commiserating with the family.
“About 30 to 40 percent of our members are scattered in neighboring countries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroun. We are happy with this visit.”
The visit, however, did not end well, with the murder of Babakura Fugu; a man who hosted him and was attempting to establish a dialogue between the sect and the former President – he was gunned down 24 hours after Obasanjo left.