Friday 2 November 2012

Boko Haram wants talks …picks Buhari as mediator, Saudi Arabia venue …demands ex-gov’s arrest, compensation

THE violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, on Thursday  indicated its readiness  to end its  campaign of  violence but on the conditions that ex-Borno State Governor Modu Sheriff  was arrested and peace talks held in Saudi Arabia.
 Also, the sect is asking for compensation for families of its members killed in the course of its  terrorist acts   and the rebuilding of its mosques by the Federal Government.
 It also demanded the release of all its  members in the custody of security agencies.
Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz, the  second-in-command to the sect’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, gave    the conditions on Thursday during a radio conference with journalists in Maiduguri, Borno State.
 Abdulaziz did not explain why the group  wanted Sheriff arrested.
Just on Wednesday, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, said Sheriff and Senators Ali Ndume and Ahmed Zanna had been put under surveillance to determine their alleged links with the sect.
 The three have been variously fingered as  financiers of the  group
  Abdulaziz named  a former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari; Dr. Shettima   Monguno; a former Yobe State Governor, Bukar Ibrahim; Ambassador Gaji Galtimari; and Aisha Alkali Wakil, and her husband, Alkali  as  “trusted” Nigerians it would be ready to negotiate with in Saudi Arabia.
 On the sect’s team would be Abdulaziz, Abu Abbas, Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheikh Sani Kontogora and Mamman Nur.
 Abdulaziz said, “We are not actually challenging the state, as people are saying, but the security (forces) that are killing our members, children and wives.
 “We are highly offended but if this government is sincere, everything (the attacks) will come to an end. We want to dialogue but government must show sincerity in its handling of the situation.”
 More than 1,000 persons have been killed in attacks on  places of worship, military and police facilities as well as drinking joints  since the sect launched its war against the government in 2009.
 Last year, suicide bombers from the sect attacked  the Police headquarters and the UN Building, in Abuja, killing  44  persons. On last Christmas Day, Boko Haram also attacked St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, killing at least 46 parishioners.
 It has subsequently attacked several other worship centres, including the St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna last Sunday.
 Before now, the Federal Government had made several claims that it was in dialogue with the sect but Abdulaziz said there had been no contact between Boko Haram and the government. He said  the sect  wants the  talk outside the country because the government had proved not to be trustworthy.

 we could not verify the identity of the man , who claimed to be Abdulaziz even as there were minor inconsistencies in the communication between him  and the journalists on Thursday.
Apart from the fact that Abdulaziz is not the usual official spokesman for the sect, he  spoke in English Language  instead of  the Hausa/Arabic  that the sect is known for .
But, the Presidency on Thursday said the proposed ceasefire by Boko Haram was a welcome development, if it was intended to achieve the objectives of peace and security.
Presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati, said the position of President Goodluck Jonathan had been that he was ready for dialogue if members of the sect could come forward.
He 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 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.”
 Meanwhile, Governor Ibrahim Shettima of Borno State on Thursday said security agencies must be alive to their responsibilities by probing the alleged involvement of politicians in the state in the activities of Boko Haram.
Shettima  gave the charge while speaking with State House correspondents in Abuja.
Borno State is considered to be the hotbed of activities of the fundamental.
He said, “On the issue of the involvement of politicians, I think is within the realm and the responsibility of the security agencies to unearth the truth.
“I am more of a developmental politician and I am more interested in addressing the core issues that makes our society vulnerable to the antics of religious bigots and all sorts of misfits that are inducting our young ones to these things.
“So, I don’t want to dabble into of the work of security agencies neither do I want to respond to allegations and accusations from any quarter. But it is the responsibility of security agencies to unearth those behind Boko Haram.”

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