14 March 2012

Nigeria: Boko Haram Picks Datti Ahmed as Mediator

Photo: Gbemiga Olamikan
Bomb Blast: The aftermath of a bomb explosion at the Nigerian Police Headquarters in Abuja on June 16, 2011.

After years of frequent bomb attacks on security formations, religious houses and killings of innocent citizens within the northern states, the Boko Haram sect has agreed to cease fire on two conditions.

The group has named the president of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, Sheik Ahmed Datti, as their mediator. It said the choice of Datti was based on the fact that its former leader, the late Mohammed Yusuf, served as a member that represented Borno State in the council of Sharia in Nigeria, the cleric could be trusted not to betray the confidence reposed in him to speak for the sect, a source close to the group told LEADERSHIP yesterday.

The source added that the group was ever ready to stop the bombings in the next four weeks only if the federal government would release all its arrested members as well as guarantee the security and safety of all members whose names would be given to the federal government through Datti.

The source said, "What the sect is asking the federal government now is to give them the assurance that once they come to the public after the hostilities, their safety and security would be guaranteed.

"The sect members have also agreed that once the two conditions are met, within four weeks, they will put an end to the hostilities. I am afraid, the members of the sect may resume to more action should the federal government fail to heed the conditions."

Army chiefs begin security meeting over sect

However, senior army officers made up of lieutenant generals, brigadier generals and colonels yesterday began a security meeting in Abuja mainly to smoke the Boko Haram sect out of its hidden places.

The programme is the maiden Nigerian Army Transformation Stakeholders' Conference with the theme, "Enhancing the Implementation Strategy for the Nigerian Army Transformation Agenda".

Chief of army staff Lieutenant General Azubike Ihejirika in his opening address said transformation is needed to enable the army adapt to the ever-changing security environment and better be able to deal with contemporary challenges.

He said about 2,000 troops are in Jaji and Kachia undergoing training on counter-terrorism and that monitoring forces have been set up to move around the country to monitor the conduct of troops on civil duty.

On the use of army uniforms by Boko Haram bombers for easy passage in their bombing campaigns, the chief of army staff said the problem has existed for long and called for a law that would outlaw its use by unauthorized persons.

This, he said, is more so as the army has no control over how they come into the country, especially with the porous nature of the country's borders. While describing last Sunday's Jos incident as unfortunate, he said all officers have been directed to subject themselves to searches. He called on prominent citizens to cooperate with soldiers by doing likewise.

He listed areas that require transformation to include change of attitude, de-politicization to professionalism, and modernization with a purpose, change of ideas rather than just modernization and adaptation to changing security environment.

Gunmen, soldiers' clash claims 5 lives in Adamawa

In a related development, less than 24 hours after the killing of five people in Mubi town, one of the commercial nerve -centres in Adamawa State, which sparked violent protests by the residents of the area who were protesting the killings of the youths belonging to the community, a gun battle ensued yesterday night between the military and some unidentified gunmen. Five people including a police Inspector, one soldier and three civilians lost their lives while others were injured.

Some residents of the area told LEADERSHIP that they had sleepless night as a result of sporadic gunshots across the town which lasted hours and nobody could tell the exact number of causalities.

Another source said that he saw four dead bodies on the ground. It was gathered that a local bomb was thrown into the military patrol vehicle by unknown gunmen who engaged the military in a shootout.

All efforts to get the reaction of the army spokesman, Lieutenant Victor Olukoya, proved abortive as his lines were not going through. But, confirming the incident to journalists, the police public relations officer (PPRO), ASP Altine Daniel, told journalists that some unidentified gunmen laid ambush on a security patrol vehicle along Ahmadu Bello Way in Mubi and engaged the military personnel in a shootout. Three civilians, one police Inspector and a soldier were killed, he said. At the time of filling this report, there was palpable tension and fear among the residents of Mubi town.

Gunmen kill 2 policemen, 1 soldier, attack JTF in Kano

Gunmen, suspected to be Boko Haram members, yesterday opened fire at a Gwammaja checkpoint in Kano, killing two policemen and one soldier, while wounding a civilian, residents and a police source said.

The Agence France Presse (AFP) also reports that the attack was the latest targeting police in Kano by the members of the sect.

"I just heard that we lost two men and a soldier in an attack on a checkpoint," a police source said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly.

Meanwhile, gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram yesterday exchanged gunshots with members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kano.

The police public relations officer Magaji Musa Majia, confirmed the attack but declined further comment.

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