Fear remains despite Boko Haram’s ceasefire

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Admiral Ibrahim

Caution — and optimism —seem to be the reaction of Nigerians to the Boko Haram’s ceasefire offer.

The militant group on Monday ordered its men to stop violence to facilitate dialogue with the government.

A commander of the sect, Sheilkh Abu Mohammed Abdulazez Ibn Idris, told reporters in Maiduguri, the beleaguered Borno State capital, that he was speaking on behalf of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau.

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and some of the North’s leaders yesterday aligned with the Borno State government, which said the ceasefire announcement was in order.

Presidential aide Dr Doyin Okupe also expressed optimism that the ceasefire would lead to peace. But rights activist Shehu Sani said he doubted the sincerity of the ceasefire.

Okupe called the announcement a “step in a good direction and a welcome development.”

“The government is studying the issue properly … I believe once the conditions and terms are right, the government will dialogue.”

Lt.-Col Sagir Musa, spokesman of the JTF in Borno State, said:

“Conflicts are resolved through dialogue, hence the declaration of ceasefire by the sect’s leader is a welcome development.

“Be that as it may, the JFT will remain in a staging position to continue maintaining law and order … in its area of operational responsibility.”

Kyari Mohammed, who heads the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at Modibbo Adama University of Technology northeast who has studied Boko Haram closely, said he believed the “commander” represented someone.

Kyari said he believed the government would remain heavily influenced by the military, which he thinks would be opposed to true dialogue.

“Without releasing people — high-level people — in captivity, I don’t think it will go far,” Kyari said. “For me, the Federal Government will have to take the gamble, if they want any form of peace.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim gave conditions under which the Federal Government would engage in dialogue with the sect.

Admiral Ibrahim said Nigerians must treat the ceasefire offer with the uttermost caution – for now.

He told reporters at a seminar on national security at the National Defence College that it was too early in the day to rejoice over the sect’s purported olive branch.

The Defence Chief said: “We must treat that (ceasefire) with a lot of caution. You should understand that there are certain objective tests that will make sense. Let’s assume we can have a long period of about one month where no bomb explodes; where nobody is shot; where nobody is beheaded; where no church is bombed; where no mosque is threatened. If they can guarantee just one month, then we can begin to talk.

‘‘We must take this (ceasefire) with a lot of caution. That is what I am telling you. And we hope whatever that must have brought this about will further enhance our security and it is like a recognition of the very futile approach to solving whatever they consider to be their problems. So, we are a bit excited by it but we are taking everything with a lot of caution.”

Admiral Ibrahim said the military and other security agencies have not relented in their efforts to tackle the bloody attacks by the sect, stressing that the seminar was one of the steps being taken to counter the offensive.

‘‘We have here a cross section of our best brains in retirement that constitute the alumni association of the NDC. And they are also concerned about national security issues.

“All of you will bear me witness that even from the two papers presented at the opening ceremony, one can only expect the wealth of experience being marketed by these people. So we are excited about this exercise there is always the intellectual dimension of everything you can call a national problem.”

President of the NDC Alumni Association, Rear Admiral Amos Adedeji welcomed the ceasefire signal from the Boko Haram sect, but expressed reservations about the source of the signal.

Admiral Adedeji said: “We are happy with what our forces are doing concerning terrorism. We are happy with the good work they are doing. But when it comes to issues like this, you don’t just take it because you don’t know who is

The seminar, with the theme “Contemporary National Security Challenges: Policy Options”, was attended by senior officers in the Armed Forces, the police, SSS and operatives from other security agencies.


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