NIGERIA: BOKO HARAM DENIES CEASEFIRE WITH GOVERNMENT

16 Jul 2013 07:54

LAGOS, July 15 (BERNAMA-NNN-ALLAFRICA) -- The spiritual leader of the Islamist militant sect, Jama'atu Ahlul Sunnah Lidda'awati wal Jihad - popularly known as Boko Haram - Abubakar Shekau, has denied entering into any ceasefire deal with the Nigerian Federal Government. This denial contradicts last week Monday's claim by Minister of Special Duties, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Northern Nigeria, Kabiru Turaki to the effect that the committee has secured a ceasefire deal with the sect. But the committee Sunday insisted that the denial of a ceasefire by Shekau was a defence mechanism by him to show that he still has the muscle to battle the Federal Government. A source close to the committee told THISDAY under the condition of anonymity that Shekau said what he said because he knew that even if the ceasefire comes to fruition, he still has questions to answer regarding his heinous role in the whole saga that has claimed many lives so far. "Shekau is afraid of what may happen to him," the source added. "That is why he is making the statements he is making. As for his lieutenants, the likes of Sheikh Abdulazeez, they know the score and have acknowledged that there is no two ways to genuine peace." Turaki had, in a Hausa service programme of Radio France International announced that the Federal Government has secured a ceasefire deal with the sect, which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks that has led to the loss of thousands of lives. His announcement was corroborated by the Presidency's statement that the alleged deal had Shekau's consent and would soon be publicly formalised. "We have spoken with somebody who is second in command as far as Boko Haram is concerned and he has informed the media that he has been discussing with us with full knowledge and authority of Imam Abubakar Shekau, so we have no cause to doubt him," Turaki had said. But the sect's leader, Shekau in a new video obtained by the AFP has debunked the ceasefire claims. "Let me assure you that we will not enter into any truce with these infidels," he said. "We will not enter into any truce with the Nigerian government." He was also quoted to have said: "The claim that we have entered into a truce with the government of Nigeria is not true. We don't know Kabiru Turaki. We have never spoken with him. He is lying." The Boko Haram spiritual leader had in the same breath voiced his group's support for the July 6 attack on a government-owned school in Yobe, which witnessed the gruesome murder of at least 29 school children. "We fully support the attack on this Western education school in Mamudo," he said in the video. Shekau, who described all "Western education schools" as a "plot against Islam", similarly, voiced his support for a previous attack on a school in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital. Boko Haram , he continued doesn't attack "children and young girls or old women," adding, "teachers that teach Western education, we are supposed to kill them in the presence of their students." He however did not say his group, whose name literally translates as "western education is a sin" in the Hausa language, was responsible for the massacre. The attacks blamed on the sects have continued despite the military's air and ground assaults targeted at the militants which came on the heels of President Goodluck Jonathan's May 14 declaration of a state of emergency in the three north-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. The President had in his announcement acknowledged that the insurgents had taken over parts of Borno State. However, the source who spoke to THISDAY, said that Shekau may not be in full picture of what is happening as he has been forced to flee the conflict area due to the scorched earth operations of the armed forces following the declaration of the state of emergency. "We met with many of Shekau's commanders, some of whom have voluntarily disarmed and they were, alongside some of their comrades in various detention facilities across the country, who saw the futility of sustaining the conflict with the government, who agreed to give up in the interest of peace," revealed the source, who also said, drawing example from the Nigerian civil war that late Dim Ojukwu rejected resolution of the conflict, but his second-in-command, Phillip Effiong, didn't; and he was the one that surrendered leading to the end of the war. When the news that Shekau has denied the purported ceasefire and dialogue with the federal government of Nigeria by his group broke Sunday Turaki told our correspondent that he was not aware of it. He asked for a copy of the story, which was forwarded to him. Subsequently, he could no longer be reached as his mobile telephone was switched off. He also did not reply a text message sent to him to state his position on the new development. -- BERNAMA-NNN-ALLAFRICA

MHS