Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Datti - Hassan Tukur Sabotaged Talks With Boko Haram

The man at the centre of the aborted negotiations with Boko Haram yesterday said the process was sabotaged by President Jonathan's principal private secretary Hassan Tukur.

Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmad began mediated contacts between the Federal Government and the sect in March, trying to work out a ceasefire, but backed out after details of the process were published in the media. He said at the time that government exhibited insincerity in the talks by leaking information.

In an interview with the VOA Hausa radio monitored yesterday, Ahmad said he independently initiated the dialogue by writing to Boko Haram and then meeting with Jonathan who then delegated Tukur to oversee the process.

But Tukur, a former intelligence officer from Adamawa State, divulged the discussions to the media, consequent upon which the sect asked Ahmad to pull out because of what they called bad faith on government's part.

Ahmad heads the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, a group that had the late Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf as one of its leaders.

"We started an independent effort and wrote to them (Boko Haram) and they replied to us that they agreed, and we should go ahead. We then contacted Jonathan and sat with him alone. Myself, our secretary general Malam Nafiu (Baba Ahmed) and Jonathan, and the man who facilitated our meeting with (the president). He (Jonathan) linked us up with Hassan Tukur...he is his trusted man.

"Hassan Tukur was the one who sabotaged the process by divulging all that we discussed to the press. The Boko Haram people said we should withdraw because they said there was lack of sincerity on the part of the government.

"They said they in a previous similar peace attempt, they sent one of their members but that member was arrested. That was the end of the discussion," he said.

There was no immediate response by Tukur or the Presidency yesterday to the statements by Ahmad. Daily Trust called Tukur's cell phone number to seek for his reaction, but he did not answer the call. He also did not reply to a text message sent to him.

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