Maiduguri — A man claiming to be speaking on behalf of Boko Haram yesterday told journalists in Maiduguri by telephone that the sect was ready for a ceasefire on four terms which include release of all its members from detention.
The man who gave his name as Abu Muhammad Ibn Abdulazeez held a teleconference in which he said also the group was willing to lay down arms and dialogue through intermediaries.
He said he was speaking on behalf of group leader Abubakar Shekau. His claim could not be authenticated because since the reported killing of the sect's spokesman Abul Qaqa two months ago, the group has not contacted journalists through their usual means of sending emails and holding teleconferences.
Abu Abdulazeez yesterday listed the four ceasefire conditions as follows: payment of compensation to the group and the rebuilding of their places of worship that were destroyed during the 2009 uprising; release of their detained members; prosecution of former Borno State governor Ali Sheriff; and rehabilitation of their families.
He said as soon as the conditions were met, the group would cease fire and be ready for a meeting with the Federal Government which should hold in Saudi Arabia, to finalise issues relating to dialogue and full restoration of peace.
He said the government should nominate Shettima Ali Monguno, former head of state Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, chairman of the presidential committee on insecurity in the northeast Ambassador Gaji Galtimari, Barrister Aisha Alkali Wakil and her husband Alkali Wakil.
The spokesman also said that the group has mandated five members to mediate on their behalf, namely Abduelazeez himself, Abu Abbas, Sheikh Ibrahim Yusuf, Sheikh Sani Kontogora and Mamman Nur, the alleged mastermind of the last year's UN House bombing in Abuja.
In his reaction to the reported Boko Haram dialogue offer, Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said, "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."
He added: "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. Definitely, government is determined to ensure peace, peace, and peace, and protect the rule of law, and at the same time, see that justice is done where wrongs have been committed."