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Friday, September 16, 2011

Obasanjo visits Boko Harram leader's family

 Former president Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday paid a surprise visit to the family of the late Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri, where he pleaded with the family to forgive and forget the past. Obasanjo, who arrived in Maiduguri in the morning, was received by some government officials before he proceeded to the house of the late Yusuf where he met with his family members.
Yusuf is believed to have been executed by policemen in the wake of the Boko Haram crises in
Maiduguri in July 2009. His followers say their wave of deadly bombings and gun raids in Borno, Abuja and some other parts of the country are meant to avenge Yusuf’s killing.
A representative of Yusuf’s family, who received Obasanjo, expressed their happiness with the visit, saying it was the first time that they were ever visited by any senior personality since the Boko Haram leader’s death.
According to the Channels Television last night, the former president also visited the home of Yusuf’s in-law, the late Ba Fugu Mohammed, who was also believed to have been executed by security forces during the Boko Haram uprising in Maiduguri.
Obasanjo called on the two families to forget and forgive the past.
It was not clear last night whether Obasanjo’s visit was at behest of the Federal Government or it was of his own volition.
An aide to Obasanjo who preferred not to the named confirmed the visit but said it was a personal visit. He said the former President told them that he would be going to Maiduguri on a condolence visit and that he was not acting on behalf of anyone.
Governor Kashim Shettima was already on his way to Abuja when he learnt that Obasanjo was coming to Maiduguri, a senior governor official told Daily Trust.
When contacted, Malam Adamu Jiri, spokesman for the Borno deputy governor Umar Zanna Mustapha, said he was not aware of the former President’s visit.
President Jonathan’s spokesman Reuber Abati did not answer his calls when our reporter rang him to find out if the Presidency was aware of Obasanjo’s visit to Maiduguri.
Obasanjo was also in Jos between Wednesday and yesterday morning, where he met behind closed doors with Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang and other political leaders in in Jos over the recurring violence in the state, Daily Trust learnt.
No official information was given on what was discussed at the meeting which held at the Government House, but reliable sources said the meeting was about finding lasting solutions to the crises in Jos and other areas.
Obasanjo took drastic, unprecedented measures to tackle the Plateau crises in 2004 when he was president, by declaring a state of emergency and suspending the then governor Joshua Dariye for six months. The state remained stable thereafter throughout Dariye’s remaining tenure, until a year and a half into Governor Jang’s first term when the November 2008 violence broke over alleged rigging of the Jos North local government election.
Obasanjo arrived in Jos Wednesday evening, and was said to have stayed at a government guest house in Rayfield, before moving to his private house in the GRA in the early hours of Thursday morning.
While at the Government House, the former president was said to have met senior government officials from the state, who tried to prevail on him to speak with President Goodluck Jonathan, to relax the apparently tough stance he took recently taken on the Plateau crises.
A source said Obasanjo insisted on meeting with other stakeholders in the state to be thoroughly briefed on the situation before taking any action.
State government officials who were contacted yesterday declined to confirm or deny that the former president was in Jos.
Information commissioner Yiljab Abraham did not answer his calls last night, while Jang’s spokesman Ayuba Dangwong could not be reached by telephone.
From Jos, Obasanjo proceeded to Maiduguri yesterday morning.
Sources in Jos said Obasanjo might have been invited because he is being considered as the only person who could persuade the president to have a rethink over the position he has taken especially ordering the military to take over the security of the state. President Jonathan on Monday ordered the military authorities to do everything necessary to restore peace in Plateau.

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