30 January 2013

Nigeria: 'Why FG Is Unexcited About Boko Haram Cease Fire'

Abuja — Possible reasons the Federal Government did not jump at the ceasefire offered by a faction of the Boko Haram sect on Monday, emerged last night, with suggestions that the government did not want to be taken for a ride by individuals and groups.

Findings by Vanguard indicated that the government was careful not to rush into opening its arms to one faction of the sect only to be confronted afterwards by another group.

Besides, the government, it was learnt, felt betrayed by many individuals and groups who posed as Boko Haram leaders and peace mediators, only to turn round and blackmail the administration.

A top source who, spoke with our correspondent insisted that while the government was desirous of an end to the insurgency in the county, it would, however, not rush into embracing unknown individuals and groups all in the name of achieving peace.

"Do not forget that several elements have in the past announced ceasefire and got the attention of the government only to renege on their pledge.

"The attitude of the government seems to be that it is better to see the bigger picture of what is unfolding before making its position on the ceasefire public," a source in government said.

The development came just as the Joint Task Force in Borno, the hub of the Boko Haram sect, declared that it would not rush into quitting the area as a result of the ceasefire announced by the group.

The spokesman for the JTF, Operation Restore Hope, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, told Vanguard on the phone that the security outfit would remain in its area of responsibility for the purpose of maintaining law and order as well as protecting lives and property.

Musa said, "Conflicts are resolved through dialogue. Hence the declaration of ceasefire by the sect leader is a welcome development.

"Be that as it may, the JTF will still remain in a staging position to continue to maintain law and order as well as protect lives and property of citizens in its area of operational responsibility."

Reacting to the development, Anthony Sani, the Spokesman for the Arewa Consultative Forum, called for a more practical approach by the leaders of the sect and the government to ensure that the ceasefire holds.

Sani noted, "All patriotic Nigerians would welcome the decision by Boko Haram to ceasefire in favour of constructive dialogue. This is because what peace can achieve, violence cannot.

"But given the past experiences when such offers were later denied by factions of the same sect, we wish to suggest a practical approach that can deliver.

"If leaders of Boko Haram are truly desirous of constructive dialogue with the Nigerian authorities but are afraid of being arrested or killed, by security agents if they present themselves, such leaders should locate the courage of their conviction and approach any country of their choice which has diplomatic relationship with Nigeria to play some mediatory roles in the ensuing dialogue.

"Once such a country agrees to play some roles, it would be left for the government of such country to approach Nigerian government for effect," the ACF spokesman suggested.

Adding his voice to the development, elder statesman and social commentator, Alh Tanko Yakassi, pleaded with the Federal Government to seize the momentum offered by the sect and end the tragedy in the country.

Yakassi said, "The ceasefire by BH is a welcome development; I always believe that in a situation like that dialogue is the only option.

"We have seen these examples of what dialogue can do in the Niger Delta, Northern Ireland and the Sudan. I hope the ceasefire would be the beginning of the end of that national tragedy.

Alhaji Yerima Shettima, National President of Arewa Consultative Forum, questioned the readiness of the government to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the sect to end the crisis in the country.

Shettima said his fears stemmed from the fact that some top government officials who were allegedly benefitting from the lingering insurgency did not want an end to the problem.

Shortly after the announcement of the ceasefire by the Boko Haram sect, the Federal Government had said that it would critically study the conditions given by the Boko Haram sect before making a pronouncement.

The government functionary had said, "From our experience, the sect is not reliable and their words cannot be taken on face value.

"All facets of governmental apparatus would be consulted before a final decision is taken on the matter. We are not in a hurry to jump at their offer," the official said.

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