The Federal Government, Friday, reiterated its position that members of the outlawed Boko Haram have accepted to dialogue with the government.
The Minister of Special Duties and Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Tanimu Turaki, stated this while briefing journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Friday.
Mr. Turaki quoted the group as saying that "it becomes incumbent upon every Muslim to accept that dialogue option".
The minister, who was flanked by members of the committee, played a video clip of a meeting of the supposed leadership of the sect who spoke in Arabic language after which Mr. Turaki translated. The video, in Arabic, was played to reporters and translated by Mr. Turaki's committee. PREMIUM TIMES is not in possession of the video and is unable to confirm its content.
The translation read by Mr. Turaki, however, shows that the Boko Haram 'leaders' in the video are already in prison.
"More surprised the committee met us in prison custody and explained to us reason for their visit and also asked four fundamental questions," one of the leaders was translated by Mr. Turaki as saying in the video.
"Thirdly, which assistance those of us in detention would give in realisation of that," the speaker said confirming that those of them in the video were already in government's detention facilities.
It is not clear how much influence members of the sect in detention have on those perpetrating criminal acts outside, although Mr. Turaki's committee apparently believes they do.
Mr. Turaki said the Boko Haram 'leaders' accepted to dialogue after "strenuous efforts of the committee," and in line with the teaching of Prophet Mohammed.
"What you have just watched is a video clip of some of the members of the Jamatul Alhus Sunnah Jehad, we have sat down in Shura and Shura is the highest decision making council," Mr. Turaki said after playing the video clip.
"They sat down in Shura and the have analyzed from purely Islamic perspective taking into account the clear and unambiguous position of the Holy Koran and taken into account the teachings and fundamentally, the practices of the Holy Prophet Mohammed on the issue of dialogue and peaceful reconciliation. Strengthening their position again with the work of other great Islamic scholars globally who have had cause to also make research and come up with a lot of literature supporting the course of dialogue," he said.
He said the Boko Haram members believed that they were living by the teachings of the prophet as enshrined in the provisions of the Quran.
"Now, the Qur'an specifically says that sulh (dialogue, negotiation or settlement), has a lot values, and in fact Muslims are encouraged to enter into dialogue. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), who practicalised the provisions of the Qur'an and the teachings of Islam, has also entered into agreement or treaty of Hudaibiyyah, where even the terms that were proposed and agreed upon at that time were clearly against the interest of Muslims, but the prophet (peace be upon him) accepted and at the end of the day it paved way for everlasting peace even till today within the Arabian Peninsula."
" So there is peace not only in the Middle East including even the Far East. What we are saying is that we are convinced that all the efforts we are making we will now be able to arrive at the middle course. Of course, dialogue does not mean that there would be absence of differences," he said.
He added that the group also claimed that as far as dialogue is concerned, "Muslims who operate strictly in accordance with the teachings of Prophet Mohammed have no option but to accept. They have also called on others that are in the field to accept the option in the spirit of peaceful co- existence and give peace a chance".
Mr. Turaki said his committee was also "discussing with other very respected and key leaders who are in the field and discussions are getting to advanced stage."
"As soon as we get to the point where we have gotten with these people, we shall inform you and the world that the dialogue option as envisaged by the President is not only working but that it has glaringly establish the wisdom of Mr. President towards resolving the security challenges ones and for all.
"We want to assure Nigerians that this committee is poised to make sure that they will carry out this assignment with all sense of responsibility, with all honesty and with diligence," he added.
Apart from trying to dialogue with the sect, the federal government has also embarked on a military tactic of curtailing the criminal activities of the sect, leading to a declaration of a State of Emergency in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.
The Nigerian military has announced that it has successfully dislodged several cells of the sect and killed several of its leaders, including Abubakar Shekau, its overall leader who is believed to have been killed in a gun duel earlier in the month.
Mr. Shekau, as leader, was the head of the Shura council of the sect and had insisted that the sect was not in any dialogue with the federal government.
When asked to confirm Mr. Shekau's death, Mr. Turaki said his committee could not.
"We are just coming in from visitation in furtherance of our activities from Gombe and Bauchi State. We just heard like every other Nigerians about the alleged death of Shekau. Now we know Col. Sagir Musa very well and we have a lot of interactions with him in the course of our visit to Borno State.
"When the information was broken by members of the press, we have tried to get in touch with but we have not succeeded yet, of course, quite understandably there is no network service in the state and we are just coming in, so we have not been able to take time from where we are to make inquiries as far as that issue raised is concerned and mark you some of these issues are not issues you will speak on phone, so we will by God's grace begin to speak to authorities concerned and then confirm the authenticity of the information. But for now the committee is not in the position to admit or deny the authenticity of the report," he said.
Below is the full transcript, as translated by Mr. Turaki's committee, of the message stated by the Boko Haram 'leaders' in the video.
Thanks be to Allah, the most High who enjoined us to fight enemies and the infidels; who also enjoined us to answer the call to dialogue with the infidels and the enemies whenever they request for that.
Praise also to the noble Prophet of Allah, Muhammad, whom peace is upon him and his companions and those who follow them in good fate up to the day of resurrection.
We are indeed surprised with the visit paid to us by a dialogue committee set up by the federal government of Nigeria.
More surprised the committee met us in prison custody and explained to us reason for their visit and also asked four fundamental questions.
Firstly, is it possible to dialogue and reach peaceful resolution of the conflict between our brothers and the federal government who are engaged in fighting?
Secondly, which way is the dialogue going to follow?
Thirdly, which assistance those of us in detention would give in realisation of that?
Fourthly, what assistance do the detainees need to facilitate the dialogue?
My response is as follows: with the hope that it will in accordance with Allah's injunction.
Indeed dialogue between the Jihadists and the government is possible. This is because dialogue is well rooted in Islam as Allah says in the chapter of Anfal in the Quran. "If they turn to peaceful coexistence you also should follow suit, you should also depend on Allah indeed is all hearing and knowingly".
Alhafiz Ibn Kharthir said "if they turn to dialogue you should accept to do it".
It was based on these that when the pagans sought for cease fire for 10 years with the Holy Prophet in the year of the treaty of Hudaihiyyah, the Prophet accepted to their terms, and that it was.
Ha'ad said there are lots of benefits in heeding to call in the verse which instructed the prophet to positively respond to other party's call for dialogue as quoted above.
Some of the benefits include forgiveness is desirable at all times. So if they approached you first it's better up to the point where he said: what is feared in dialogue is treachery.
But in this, Allah went on to say it's sufficient for the Muslims and if the infidels embark on any deceit, it will boomerang.
Abdullahi Bin Mas'ud said, you regard the conquest of Makah from infidelity as the greatest achievement and is considered the treaty of Hudaibiyya as the key that opens Makah.
Jibin Bin Abdullahi also said similar thing. Raka'u Bin Malik also said the treaty of Hudaibiyya is key to conquest of Makah.
In view of the authorities quoted and several others similar to them, it is pertinent for brothers, the Jihadists to bend towards dialogue with the government as a reference to Allah's injunction.
In the verse mentioned earlier, moreover also Allah said, it is not proper for the believers for follow their desire if Allah and his apostle decided on matter. May Allah help us.
Here are opinions of scholars on the matter of the questions.
Imam Ibn Kayyum Al-Auza'I, in his book Zadul-Ma'ad Fi Hadyi Khairil Ibad, after espousing a chapter on the treaty of Hudaibiyyah set a new chapter on the benefit of the treaty.
Among them include its validity the fact that the pagans and transgressors ask for any matter which remain within the domain of the creator.
The believers should accept to the request even if they stood on the way to the realisation of their goal, so long as it will not lead to the greatest sin.
This is one of the most difficult moments for the companions of the prophet.
Ibn Kayyum also said, it is incumbent on a leader to take advantage of any window that will bring peace for the people. He should not even wait to be approached.
Reaching peace with non-believers is lawful so long as it will bring relief to believers. Peace accord he said has multiple advantages to believers.
Also the treaty of Hudaibiyyah which legalised repatriation of believers who migrated to the unbelievers as well as the clause which prohibited repatriation of deserters excluding women was accepted though unfavourable to Muslims.
Further benefit of treaty Hudaibiyyah which followed the conquest of Makah was the cessation of hostility for 10 years and cessation could go beyond the 10 years if the need arose particularly when the people are at weak point.
Ash-shaikh Mustapha in his book: Kaddul-Mukhtari Sharitul Tanwiril Absat said: It is permissible to reach peace accord and lay down arms with reparation to or against us because of the Allah's saying, when you turn to peace, turn to it with completeness and depend on Allah" Quran Chapter 8:61
Al Imam Arazi said pertaining the explanation of this verse of this verse: "you should know when the enemies become frightened and if they turn to peaceful resolution, you should accept."
Al-Sheik Yusuf Alqardawi said in his book, Pokinul Jihad, is foolhardy for Muslims to wait until when they are overpowered by enemy before making conciliation particularly when it is imminent that the enemy is far stronger and that they cannot match them.
It will amount to arrogance if we continue to fight under the prevailing condition, a situation which will not make the weaker stronger nor the stronger weaker.
If the Muslim leadership reviews the situation and foresaw the danger in the continuation of the war, then it has to be stopped even without the prompting of the enemy. This is exactly what our leader, Muhammad Yusuf did when he saw the situation deteriorating then. Allah is the best of judges.
Finally, I hope my fellow brothers who claim to align themselves with the movement of Muhammad Yusuf will come to reason with the citations made from the scriptures.
They should also see beyond their eyes, the condition of the religion and the people under the present circumstance and embrace peace. It is indeed evident enough.
Praise is to Allah and his messenger and peace be unto you all.
Your brothers in Islam: Muhammad Lawan Dan Suliaman, Abdul-Auza'i, Al-Darnawo, Al-Maliki.