boko haram ready for peace talk
From Boko Haram came yesterday an unusual offer of a ceasefire, but with some conditions. One: The Federal Government must arrest and prosecute former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Two: The families of killed members of the Islamist sect must be compensated and their property destroyed during encounters with security agents, rebuilt. The ceasefire offer came during a telephone Press conference in Maiduguri, Borno State given by one Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz, who said he is the Boko Haram commander in charge of southern and northern Borno. Abdulaziz claimed he had the mandate of their leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau.
He said: “We are highly offended due to what happened three years ago (referring to the killing of the sect’s leader, Mallam Mohammed Yusuf”. Reacting to the development, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Dr. Reuben Abati, said: “Yes, I have seen the story in which the Boko Haram is reportedly declaring a ceasefire and the opening of dialogue.
I think it is important to restate the position of government in this matter. The Federal Government is committed to peace and security for the benefit of all Nigerians. If what the proposed ceasefire is intended to achieve are the objectives of peace and security, then it is a welcome development.
Don’t forget that President Jonathan had made it clear that if the people behind Boko Haram are ready to come forward, and table their grievances, then government will be willing to listen to those grievances.
There have been attempts before now, by concerned persons to reach out to the Boko Haram through back channels, in response to government’s call that all efforts should be made to resolve the problem. I suspect that this latest development may be related to that. Definitely, government is determined to ensure peace, peace, and peace, and protect the rule of law, and at the same time, see that justice is done where wrongs have been committed.”
Meanwhile, Abdulaziz said: “If this former governor (Sen Ali Sheriff) is arrested, this thing (attack) will end,” he stated.
He alleged that Sen. Sheriff while in office, allegedly sent security operatives to arrest and kill most of its members while practising their religious belief. “We have been practising our religion in this town without any problem until the man came and caused this problem,” he stated. According to him, the sect had lost many of its members, as many have also been hounded into military custodies, while “fighting the cause of Allah.” His words: “Most of our members had been killed by the security agents while some are in various detentions. We’ve lost many of our children and wives.
Our homes and belongings were destroyed and up till today, our people are being killed.” Abdulaziz, who said he is the Boko Haram boss for southern and northern Borno, said the sect believes “it is time to end this thing (attacks and killings),” stressing that the arrest of the former governor would be a strong condition for ceasefire. He also said the group would want compensation for the blood of its members believed to have been killed by the security forces and their property to resettle their families as part of the two conditions for dialogue and ceasefire. He, however, maintained that the group had adopted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the venue of the proposed dialogue with the Federal Government.
“If the Federal Government means peace, we will want compensation especially for most of our members killed, our properties and belonging destroyed so as to resettle our families. But then, we prefer to have the dialogue in Saudi Arabia Insha Allah because we have seen this dishonesty and insincerity on the part of the Federal Government,” he said. Abdulaziz also claimed their leader; Imam Shekau, had appointed five members of the sect (himself inclusive) to handle the peace talks.
“Myself, Sheik Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheik Sani Kontagora, Abu Abbass and Mamman Nur have been appointed by our great brother and leader to handle the dialogue with the Federal Government,” he disclosed. He noted that the sect would prefer the former military leader, Gen Muhammadu Buhari, ex-Yobe State governor and now Senator, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, first Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, octogenarian Shettima Ali Monguno, Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Insecurity in the North-East, Amb Gaji Gatimari and other prominent members of the Borno Emirate. Abdulaziz told reporters that the sect’s second-in-command, whom he introduced as Sheik Abbass Abubakar, would clarify issues concerning some killings, car snatching and robberies in the state.
In his remarks, Abubakar said Boko Haram was not in any way connected to political killings, stressing that some people were committing the act under the guise of Boko Haram. “We don’t have hands in bank robbery or any robbery, we don’t snatch cars and we are not involved in some killings which have political motivations. We are working for the cause of Allah,” he stressed. As at Press time, it could not be ascertained if the said dialogue position of Boko Haram as claimed by Abdulaziz yesterday was a direct result of a meeting held by some Borno elders two weeks ago at the Shehu of Borno palace, at the instance of the Shehu, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Garbai Elkanemi.
The Shehu had met some elders under the auspices of Borno Elders’ Forum to take “some far-reaching decisions” on the lingering security situation in the state and some parts of the north. Secretary of the forum and former Borno State Head of Service, Bulama Mali Gubio, had after the meeting told journalists that the results of the “far-reaching decisions” taken at the “important meeting” would begin to manifest after two weeks, alleging that the Federal Government had abandoned Borno people to their fate and as such, “the need to take the bull by the horns.”