19 March 2012

Nigeria: FG, Boko Haram Talks Collapse

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

The Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, SCSN, which is negotiating with the Federal Government on behalf of the Boko Haram sect on how to put an end to the spate of bombing in the country has accused the Federal Government of insincerity on the peace initiative which has led to the collapse of the talks between both parties.

President of the council, Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmad and the Secretary, Mr Nafiu Baba-Ahmed represented the sect in the talks with government team. A statement issued, yesterday, by Dr Datti, however, explained why the talks broke down.

According to Datti, "as a concerned elder and President of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, SCSN, I felt very disturbed with the turn of events and the increasing cycle of massive violence in our country, and especially in the Northern and Muslim part of Nigeria. We in the SCSN, therefore, made enquiries as to how to reach the current leadership of the Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda Awati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram.

"Our enquiries led us to a reporter who we realised maintained close and valuable professional contact with leadership of the sect. Through this gentleman, we contacted the leadership of the sect and established from them that as Muslims they were prepared to consider 'Sulhu' which means 'broad reconciliation' regarding the dispute between them and the government.

"It was at this juncture, that I and the Secretary General of the SCSN, on behalf of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria contacted the Federal Government at the highest level and intimated them of this great possibility of reconciliation and peaceful resolution of the crisis. This was on Monday, March 5, 2012.

"My delegation was well received and a high-ranking civilian officer was appointed immediately to liaise with us towards a successful resolution of the crisis. To our shock and dismay, no sooner had we started this dialogue, Nigerian newspapers came out with a lot of the details of the meeting held.

"This development has embarrassed us very much and has created strong doubts in our minds about the sincerity of the government's side in our discussion as the discussion is supposed to be very confidential to achieve any success.

"In view of this unfortunate and unhelpful development, we have no option but to withdraw from these early discussions. We sincerely regret that an opportunity to negotiate and terminate this cycle of violence is being missed."

It was, however, gathered that another reason why the Boko Haram representatives backed down from the talks was the reluctance by the Federal Government to release top shots of the sect from custody. The government was said to be preparing the release of some of the foot soldiers of the Islamic sect while still holding on to the sect leaders who have been arrested.

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