Abuja: Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo paid a visit to the family of a slain radical Islamic sect leader in northern town of Maiduguri in a bid to bring
about a halt to the killings linked to the group since 2009.
Obasanjo, an influential political figure, met with
family members of the slain Mohammed Yusuf, for two hours and
also talked to community leaders.
He also visited the destroyed headquarters and mosque of
His visit came a few weeks after the group accepted
responsibility for a suicide bombing at the United Nations
headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria`s capital, which led to the
death of 23 people.
The former president pleaded with the brother-in-law of
the dead sect leader, Babakura Fugu to urge members of the
group to lay down arms in the interest of national security.
"Between 30 and 40 per cent of the sect`s members are
scattered all over neighbouring countries, specifically Chad,
Niger and Cameroon," Fugu told Obasanjo, confirming fears of
Nigerian government which made it to send some foreigners home
immediately after the UN building bombing.
The sect sought the trial of police officers who
allegedly were involved in the extra judicial killing of Yusuf
when he was captured during the 2006 insurrection by the group
when more than 800 people died.
Obasanjo was military head of state in the 70s and handed
over to a civilian government that was later overthrown by
He became a critic of military rule and was sent to
prison by former dictator, General Sani Abacha.
Abacha died suddenly and Obasanjo was released to contest
for presidential election which he won in 1999 to preside over
the oil-rich African country for eight years.
He plays a leading role in regional conflict resolution
and formed the African Leadership Forum (ALF) an NGO that
works to promote democratic governance.
His visit indicates that the Nigerian government is
desperate to stop the increasing activities of the group which
has become affiliated to al-Qaeda.