Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 met with the United States Congress House Sub-Committee on Africa to speak on the Niger Delta issue and the challenges facing Christians in Nigeria.
Ikechukwu Eze, said the meeting was part of efforts of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation to fulfill its mission to promote peace and prosperity in Nigeria and Africa.
Dr. Jonathan, who became president in 2010 left office in 2015, said the implementation of the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference is the panacea that will prevent ethnic and religious tensions that lead to crises such as the recent Southern Kaduna killings.
He also identified impunity as a factor that contributes to the reoccurrence of such violence, noting that if those behind previous violence were not prosecuted then likeminded individuals and groups would be emboldened to repeat the same act.
Mr. Jonathan talked about his efforts to end impunity, specifically citing the case of Kabiru Sokoto, the mastermind of the Christmas Day bombing of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger state who was arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned by his administration and was the first successful prosecution of a terrorist attack on a place of worship in Nigeria’s history.
He said: “That promise was fulfilled on the 20th of December 2013 when Kabiru Umar, aka Kabiru Sokoto, was sentenced to life imprisonment after my administration investigated that crime, identified him as the mastermind, arrested him and diligently prosecuted him and some of his associates.”
The former president also noted that his administration’s prosecution of the perpetrators of the deadly bombing of an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission also in Madalla on April 8, 2011 was the first successful prosecution of terrorists in Nigeria.
While supporting the 2014 National Conference’s recommendation for an independent Religious Equity Commission to be set up to apprehend and arrest perpetrators of ethnic and religious violence, Mr. Jonathan said that ending impunity will also mean ending these tensions.
On the Niger Delta, the former president said he fully aligned with the views of the 2014 National Conference which called for True and Fiscal Federalism as the way out of agitations in the region and in
other parts of Nigeria.
He also said that interventionist agencies like the Niger Delta Development Commission tend not to be effective due to over politicization.
The former President opined that the almost overnight development of a state like Akwa-Ibom proved that what the region needed was resource control not interventionist agencies.
The meeting was attended by Chairman of the U.S. House Sub-Committee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, Congressman Christopher H Smith and other influential staff of the Committee.