Leadership (Abuja)

17 February 2013

Nigeria: Why Boko Haram Opted for Dialogue

An alleged rift within the leadership of the Boko Haram sect (aka Jama'atu Ahalis Sunna Lidda Awati Wal-Jihad) and the inability of the group to achieve its objectives through violent means may have led to its acceptance of dialogue with the federal government.

A top security source told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY yesterday that the rift in the hierarchy of the sect culminated in the seemingly discordant responses to the ceasefire recently announced by one Sheikh Mohammed Abdulazeez, believed to be the second-in-command to Sheikh Abubakar Shekau.

The source said: "Some of the leaders have alleged that Sheikh Shekau's approach has not yielded sufficient results and were therefore advocating the employment of other means."

According to the source, "it is reported that about 80 per cent of members within the sect are not favourably disposed to Shekau's methodology, which advocates violence. This has led to their willingness to embrace dialogue with the federal government and their recent call for a ceasefire".

He however said that some members were still loyal to Shekau and his methods, adding that "Shekau who is reportedly badly wounded and incapacitated has appointed his successor in the person of one Isiaka Aliyu, a relatively junior leader in the hierarchy of the sect, against the wishes and aspirations of other loyal members".

According to the source, it was in line with this that Abu Sa'ad, who was thought to be the most likely successor to the leadership of the sect, was droped because he felt he would emerge as a more enlightened leader who might steer the group away from the path of overt violence.

"Besides, it is believed that Shekau felt that Sa'ad would not remain totally loyal to him in his incapacitated state. Like Sa'ad, another of the sect's prominent leaders, Abubakar Kambar, is also said to be targeted. As a result of these developments, many of the group's members have become entirely disillusioned with the struggle and even the most radical of them are willing to embrace dialogue since they no longer see a future in the struggle."

In addition, he said, "the rift within the ranks of the leadership has made it such that no other leaders have been empowered to make any statement on his behalf as was the norm in the past. It is evident that Shekau's faction of the Boko Haram sect is not in a position to move the struggle forward. This has led many observers to believe that this could be 'the beginning of the end' of Boko Haram.

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