Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said in an exclusive interview in Abuja that the government and security agencies would hunt down the leaders of the violent sect, Boko Haram.
Abati was reacting to a statement credited to the United States under Secretary for Political Affairs, Wendy Sherman, that leaders of the sect must be captured and prosecuted for Nigeria to achieve its potential as a stable regional leader.
He said, “Our determination is to make sure that wherever they are, the leaders of the terrorists’ group will be hunted down and brought to justice.
“What has been done in the three months of emergency rule in three states is that a clear message has been sent out that government will not condone terrorists’ activities.
“The enclave they already carved out for themselves have been wiped out and destroyed and many of them have been captured and hunted down. This has sent out a very strong signal.
“The government is already getting close to destroying the leadership cadre of Boko Haram and those caught will definitely be brought to justice.”
Commenting on whether the Federal Government of Nigeria will seek the assistance of US in tracking down the sect’s leaders, Abati said there was already existing partnership between the US and Nigeria and also between Nigeria and neighbouring countries on the matter.
When asked how soon the government would get the sect leaders in its custody, he said it was an ongoing security operation, adding that as successes were recorded, the public would be duly informed.
Abati explained that the essence of the security effort in the north-eastern part of the country was to check insurgency and bring the perpetrators to book. He said the government had made it very clear that it would not tolerate any act of terrorism and that was why it had declared Boko Haram a terrorist organisation.
“Applying all the sanctions spelt out in the Terrorism Protection Act, whoever was arrested or identified as a terrorist would be brought to justice.
“I see the statement by the US Under Secretary on Political Affairs generally as a statement of support. She made it very clear that the US is solidly behind the Nigerian government. She placed a lot of emphasis on partnership between countries and made it very clear that Boko Haram poses a threat not only to Nigeria but also to the United States.
“What you must know is that there are many areas of collaboration between the US and Nigeria in terms of information sharing, capacity development and operational strategy. In terms of strategy, the approach that has been adopted by the Jonathan administration is a multi-track strategy divided into short term, medium term and long term.
“In the short term is the military intervention in that part of the country to check the insurgents. And in that regard, a lot of success has been made.
“And of course we have the option of dialogue and reconciliation in which we have the amnesty committee.” said Abati.
Furthermore, Abati said in an interview he granted an online television, Sahara TV, on Saturday that people who are “playing the politics of 2015” should desist from dragging President Goodluck Jonathan into every conflict.
He said while the Presidency conceded to the people their right to play politics, they should do so without blaming Jonathan for everything that happened within the polity.