27 November 2012

Nigeria: Dialogue - Boko Haram Replaces Buhari With Sheikh Gabchia

Maiduguri — The Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda'awati Wal Jihad, better known as Boko Haram, says it has appointed Sheikh Goni Gabchia, a renowned cleric in Borno State to replace retired General Muhammadu Buhari on its dialogue team.

Imam Gabchia, who is also the Chief Imam of the University of Maiduguri, is yet to come back from Saudi Arabia.

Buhari had earlier this month turned down the sect's request to be on the team that will meet with the federal government even as President Goodluck Jonathan recently said his administration was not anyway talking with the Boko Haram, insisting that the group is still faceless.

A copy of the letter of the replacement, which was written in Hausa, dated 27th Thul Hajj, 1433 and signed by a purported spokesman of the group, one Sheikh Abu Muhammad Ibn Abdulazeez, was given to newsmen in Maiduguri yesterday.

Pundits say the letter must be from a splinter group or alternatively from moderate elements in the group who actually wanted peace but lack the capacity to influence a ceasefire.

Daily Trust reports that the letter was also a clear departure from the group's usual way of sending messages which include emails, teleconferences and via You Tube.

Observers are also curious that the Boko Haram still talks of dialogue even as deadly attacks are being carried out, allegedly by the group, the latest of which was the suicide attacks at a Church in military barracks in Jaji, Kaduna State.

It was gathered that the same letter had been dispatched to the notable people in Borno and Yobe States, whom the group mentioned earlier this month to mediate for them.

They include elder statesman Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, chairman of the presidential committee on insecurity in the northeast; Ambassador Gaji Galtimari, former Yobe State governor, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, whose letter was delivered to him through his wife, Hajiya Maryam Bukar Abba Ibrahim; permanent secretary in Borno State civil service, Justice Zanna Wakil of Borno State judiciary and his wife Barrister Aisha Wakil.

Due to erratic GSM network problem, none of the aforementioned personalities could be reached to verify whether they received the letter or not but sources said some of them have acknowledged the receipt of the letters and indicated their readiness to mediate.

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