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Christmas Day bombings: Sultan, Jonathan move to douse tension

Published by Daily Trust on Thu, 29 Dec 2011

Sultan of Sokoto Sa'ad Abubakar and President Goodluck Jonathan met yesterday in Abuja to discuss ways of tackling the spate of bombings in the country, in an effort to douse tensions after the Christmas Day bombings that killed dozens of people.The attacks on Sunday, claimed by the Boko Haram sect, targeted mainly churches, sparking fear of sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians.Sultan Sa'ad and National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi said yesterday after the meeting with the president that there was no likelihood of Muslim-Christian clashes in the country.'I want to assure all Nigerians that there is no conflict between Muslims and Christians, between Islam and Christianity,' the Sultan told journalists at the State House after the meeting that lasted about 90 minutes.'It's a conflict between evil people and good people. The good people are more than the evil ones, so the good people must come together to defeat the evil ones, and that is the message.'Azazi, for his part, urged Christians not to retaliate over the bombings.'We are Nigerians. I don't see any major conflict between the Christian community and Muslim community,' he said. 'Retaliation is not the answer, because if you retaliate, at what point will it end' Nigeria must survive as a nation.'Sultan Sa'ad said also that Jonathan agreed to look at previous reports issued by government panels on series of violence in the Northeast and in Jos, and to hold more discussions with religious and traditional leaders.On Sunday, at least 28 people were killed in a suspected suicide bombing near the Saint Theresa's Catholic Church at Madalla, about 40 kilometers away from Abuja. Shortly after, a policeman was shot dead by gunmen who hurled a bomb at a church in Jos, Plateau State. Elsewhere in Damaturu, a suicide bomber attacked the Yobe State headquarters of the State Security Service, killing three officers.Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the bombing spree.Muslim leaders, including the Sultan, on Monday condemned the bombings and said Boko Haram was not acting on behalf of Muslims.The Sultan restated his position yesterday: 'We are totally against what has been happening, we totally condemn all these. Nobody can take anybody's life, its unIslamic, its unGodly, nobody can take anybody's life, all lives are sacred, must be respected and protected by all.'Asked what specific measures were agreed on at the meeting to tackle the violence, Sultan Sa'ad said, 'The government will look at all the past reports including the one set up by the President on the North East crisis and also the Solomon Lar report on the Plateau, and at the resumption of work Mr. President and his team will look through all those reports and then call for a meeting of a larger body for consultation with all of us, both religious and traditional leaders.'On if leaders like him do not speak against the Boko Haram for fear of the sect, the Sultan said, 'There is no fear, I only speak as Muslim leader and leader of Muslims and you know that we don't say what we don't mean and what we don't do. It is against Islam, a special verse in the Holy Koran said so, don't speak what you don't do. It is distasteful in the eyes of Almighty Allah. But we are quite aware of Almighty Allah's instruction to always speak the truth because we will go back to him to give account for what we have done on earth. So whatever we say to anybody or any group at any time, we wholly mean so.'National Security Adviser Andrew Azazi, speaking on feared reprisals after the bombings, said, 'We can't have a situation where we think that one bad turn deserves another' You will find a situation where certain individuals for whatever reasons are causing these problems. Have we thought of what their ultimate intentions (are)' Why will somebody go on to bomb Christians on a Christmas Day' Look at the ultimate intentions. Do they want to really raise temper elsewhere''Asked if there would be an overhaul of the nation's security system, Azazi said, 'We need to improve security certainly'. (But) why changes in leadership' Everybody thinks that if you change leaders in security, everything will work fine. If you ask very simple question; what kind of security system have we been managing' Are the structures all been so good that we can overall produce result' It is a gradual process, anywhere there has been this level of terrorism, it takes a long time for the security to be overhauled. Even whatever you do, at some points, you expect limited successes but to ensure that over a period of time, you can actually put things in place that will work for the betterment for the society.'On what is preventing government from holding dialogue with Boko Haram as suggested by many people, Azazi asked: 'Do you know them
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