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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Boko Haram beg Nigerians for forgiveness and signs ceasefire deal

"WE are seeking forgiveness from the people
over the number of people killed in the
country.
I appeal to those who lost their loved ones to
our activities to forgive us and on our side we
have forgiven all those who committed
atrocities against us. I want to state clearly
that we have no hands in the unfortunate
attack on the secondary school (Government
Secondary School, Mamudo, Yobe State)."
With these words, Imam Muhammadu
Marwana, an influential member of the
Abubakar Shekau-led Boko Haram sect,
yesterday, confirmed a ceasefire agreement
with the Federal Government to end their
deadly activities across most states of
Northern Nigeria, which have claimed about
4,000 lives and destroyed properties worth
billions of Naira since 2009.
The agreement came exactly 82 days after
the Federal Government raised a 25-man
committee to work out modalities for granting
the amnesty to the sect.
Indeed, the Federal Government, yesterday,
said that it had signed a ceasefire agreement
with the militant group. Minister of Special
Duties and Chairman of the Peace and
Dialogue Committee in the North, Alhaji
Tanimu Turaki announced the ceasefire
agreement on the Hausa service of Radio
France International monitored in Kano.
The announcement came on the eve of the
Muslim Holy month of Ramadan expected to
commence today throughout the world and
also coincided with a vehement denial by the
insurgents that they had no hands in the
murder of 30 boarding students of a
secondary school in Yobe weekend.
Although details of the peace deal were
scanty, Turaki who spoke in Hausa further
said that the Boko Haram insurgents had
agreed to lay down their arms.
"We have sat down and agreed that
Jama'atu Ahlul Sunnah Lidda'awati wal
Jihad, known as Boko Haram will lay down
their arms as part of the agreement so as to
end the insurgency. Government agreed with
ceasefire and will look into ways to ensure
that the troops relax their activities till the
final take off of the ceasefire," Turaki told his
interviewers.
Confirmingthe truce, Imam Muhammadu
Marwana said: "This ceasefire, in sha'Allahu,
from the time I am talking to you (Radio
France Hausa Service) we have ceasefire
because of the discussion held so as to have
peace over this struggle."
The Boko Haram stalwart added that "we are
seeking forgiveness from the people over the
number of people killed in the country.
Sounding apologetic during the Radio news,
Imam Marwana declared that "I appeal to
those who lost their loved ones to our
activities to forgive us and on our side we
have forgiven all those who committed
atrocities against us"
He added that "I want to state clearly that we
have no hands in the unfortunate attack on
the secondary school."
How the agreement was reached
A member of the presidential committee,
which President Godluck Jonathan gave 90
days to hammer out a solution to the problem
told Vanguard how the agreement was
brokered. He said "Shekau's leadership came
out through several fronts and set traps for
us. The government gave them confidence,
the confidence led to trust and they said they
will call their men to cease-fire and they have
done so."
Mixed reactions trail move
Meanwhile, Nigerians have received news of
the truce with cautious optimism
A step in the right direction—Gani Adams
National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples
Congress, OPC, Otunba Gani Adams said it
was a step in the right direction. Iin a
telephone chat with Vanguard, he said: "It is
a step in the right direction and I think from
there, they will create room to dialogue with
the Federal Government and state their
position.
They cannot continue to waste lives just like
that. I don't know what they stand for but no
matter what they stand for, their approach is
wrong and deadly. Nobody in the world will
support their struggle. But calling for a
ceasefire will afford Nigerians the opportunity
to know exactly what they want."
Identity of the group should be ascertained —
Afenifere
Also, Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation,
Afenifere was of the view that the identity of
the group calling for ceasefire should be
ascertained. Speaking with Vanguard on
phone, Afenifere's National Publicity
Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin said "We
should be sure which of the Boko Haram sect
is calling for a ceasefire. Is it a strategy to
rule or what is it all about?
The identity of the group should be
ascertained and its genuineness should be
known before the Federal Government is
taken off guard. Since emergency was
declared in those three states (Yobe,
Adamawa and Borno), the incidence of
bombings has gone down but killings
continue here and there. So, we must know
how genuine the call is and the identity of the
group calling for the ceasefire. Was it not
Boko Haram that said it was the Federal
Government that needed amnesty?".
Govt should reciprocate —Balarabe Musa
In his reaction, former governor of Kaduna
State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa expressed
optimism that the ceasefire will resolve the
insurgency.
"We hope that the Federal Government will
respond favourably and effectively to the
ceasefire," he said.
Committee should not concede unnecessarily
—Frederick Fasehun
"Nigeria has been on the issue of amnesty for
long and if they have agreed on a ceasefire,
that is commendable. I see it as a roadmap
to peace. I hope the committee does the
follow-up to this very well. But the committee
should go on with their negotiations and
should not concede unnecessarily."
Committee should go on with its mandate—
Abubakar Tsav
Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police,
Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, on his part said: "The
development is very encouraging. I am happy
about it and I commend the committee for
doing a good job. The committee should go
on with its mandate in order to achieve a
lasting peace. The committee should be
encouraged the more at this stage to
conclude its job."
FG must rise to the occasion—Arewa Youths
Commenting on the development, President,
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Alhaji
Yerima Shetima said in spite of the ceasefire,
the Federal Government must address the
issues that led to the insurgency.
Shetima said: "Whether they cease fire or
not, the truth of the matter is that Nigerians
must rise to the occasion. Last year, it was the
same story we heard when they called for a
ceasefire and still, they unleashed a lot of
mayhem in Northern Nigeria.
Also, we must appreciate the fact that the
whole of Northern Nigeria has been
bastardised because everybody is now a
member of Boko Haram. If they call for a
ceasefire, what about the remaining factions?
This does not mean that the Federal
Government must go to sleep, the insurgency
must be condemned totally."
How sect's activities assumed deadly
dimension
THE Jama'atu Allus Sunnah Lilda wati Wal
Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, (Western
education is sin), came into existence in the
1960s but survived through the decades
under various names.
However, it started drawing attention to itself
in 2002, when Mohammed Yusuf became its
leader. In 2004, it moved to Kanamma, Yobe
State, where it set up a base called
'Afghanistan' from where it attacked nearby
police stations, killing police officers.
In July 2009, the Nigeria Police started
investigating Boko Haram, following reports
that the group was arming itself. Yusuf, the
leader and others, were arrested and on July
30, 2009 allegations were made that Yusuf
was extra-judicially killed by Nigerian
security forces after being taken into custody.
The development invigorated deadly clashes
with Nigerian security forces and attacks on
churches, public institutions and military
facilities, among others, which have led to the
death of about 3,500 people.
Litany of attacks Before the clashes, many
Muslim leaders, and at least one military
official, had warned the authorities about
Boko Haram. Those warnings were reportedly
ignored.
According to Human Rights Watch, between
July and December 2010, at least 85 people
were killed in some 35 separate attacks in
four states in northern and central Nigeria, as
well as in Abuja, the nation's capital. Attacks
attributed to Boko Haram in 2011 left at least
550 people dead in 115 separate incidents.
Between January and December 2012, Boko
Haram-related attacks occurred in 14 of the
country's 36 states, including all the 12 states
that have already adopted Sharia Islamic
law, Plateau State and in the Federal Capital
Territory, Abuja.
Violence blamed on Boko Haram, which said
it wants to create an Islamic state in Nigeria,
has killed more than 900 people in 2012, in
about 290 separate attacks in 12 north-
eastern and central states, and Abuja,
making 2012 the deadliest year since the
group began its attacks in 2009. And in
2013, about 250 people have been killed in
Boko Haram-related attacks and incidents.
The litany of attacks include those of the
United Nations Office, Abuja, Police
Headquarters, Abuja, the building housing
ThisDay Newspapers, Sun Newspapers and
Daily Trust in Abuja, St. Theresa's Catholic
Church, Madalla, Niger State, Deeper Life
Bible Church, Okene; Military Cantonment,
Jaji, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office
and other numerous security facilities,
especially police stations.
The security agencies also went on counter-
offensive arresting, detaining and in many
instances, killing Boko Haram members and
leaders.
Disturbed by the escalating violence many
northern leaders and groups, including the
Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, urged
government to dialogue with the group to end
the killings.
A picture taken from a video distributed to
journalists in recent days through
intermediaries and obtained by AFP on March
5, 2013 reportedly shows Abubakar Shekau,
the suspected leader of Nigerian Islamist
extremist group Boko Haram, flanked by six
armed and hooded fighters at an undisclosed
place.
Last November, the group gave the
government conditions for ending the
hostilities. Acclaimed spokesman of the
group, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, in a
tele-conference with journalists in Maiduguri,
stated that if the state and the Federal
Government wanted the group to cease-fire
completely, then former Borno State governor,
Ali Modu Sheriff, must be arrested and
prosecuted according to the laws of the land.
He also said that the government should
compensate the group and rebuild their
places of worship which were destroyed
during the 2009 uprising.
He pointed out that for dialogue to take
place, it must be through the following elders:
Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno; former Head of
State, General Muhammadu Buhari; former
Yobe State governor, Bukar Abba Ibrahim;
Ambassador Gaji Galtimari and Barr Aisha
Alkali Wakil and her husband, Barr Alkali
Wakil, insisting that the dialogue must take
place in Saudi Arabia.
Abu Abdulazeez also said that the group had
mandated five members who are to mediate
on their behalf; they include himself (Abu
Mohammed Abdulazeez), Abu Abbas, Sheikh
Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheikh Sani Kontagora and
Mamman Nur.
Buhari later distanced himself from the group
and the Federal Government said it could not
negotiate with pre-conditions, thus the crisis
festered. With the latest decision of the group
to sheathe its swords, it is hoped that all
stakeholders will play their required roles for
normalcy to return to the country.
Porous ceasefire
However, a peace deal was brokered on
January 28, 2013 after a marathon meeting
between some leaders of the group, which
has been terrorizing some states in the North,
particularly Borno State, since July 2009, and
the Borno State Government, led by Governor
Kashim Shettima with other top government
officials and religious leaders from the state in
attendance.
The cease-fire came after a 42-month multi-
pronged attack unleashed on the polity by
the sect.
Briefing newsmen after the marathon meeting
in Maiduguri, Sheikh Abu Mohammad
Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, a commander of Boko
Haram in-charge of North and Central Borno,
said after due consultation with the leader of
the sect, Shiekh Abubakar Shekau, as well as
intervention and pleadings from respected
individuals and groups in the state, we ''have
all come to terms and agreed to lay down our
arms."
The Boko Haram Commander, however,
insisted that government should immediately
release all their members from custody
unconditionally, re-build their places of
worship and compensate them, among other
demands.
Sheikh Abdulazeez said that, the sect
observed that during the lingering insurgency,
many Muslim women and children had
suffered untold hardship, adding that, they
also decided to lay down their arms for peace
to reign in Borno State and the country at
large.
"I am appealing and calling on all our
members through this medium to lay down
their arms henceforth, till further notice,"
Abdulazeez stated.
However, a few hours after the cease-fire, a
faction of the sect distanced itself from the
peace-deal and accelerated its deadly
attacks, which have claimed about 250 lives
since then.
The search for peace took President Goodluck
Jonathan to Borno and Yobe states last
month. The series of parleys during the two-
day visit did not yield amnesty as President
Jonathan insisted that the Federal
Government could not grant amnesty to
ghosts. He urged leaders of Boko Haram to
come out of their hiding and dialogue with
government as was done in the Niger Delta
before amnesty could be granted.
The matter was on the front burner this week
following the exchange of brick-bat between
Buhari and the Presidency. While Buhari
accused the Presidency of being responsible
for 'political Boko Haram' and should take
responsibility for the escalating mayhem, the
Presidency countered that Buhari was
responsible because he threatened to make
the country ungovernable if he lost the 2011
polls.
The government asked Buhari to act like a
patriot and get Boko Haram leaders to
embrace dialogue. Buhari refused and
advised the government to carry its cross.
Culled from Vanguard

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