Days after the Boko Haram terrorist group announced its resolve to dialogue and hold a ceasefire, the Federal Government has reacted by laying down a condition to the sect: Boko Haram must stop its violence in the North for a period of one month.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim stated this while speaking to journalists at the opening of the 2013 seminar on National Security with the theme “Contemporary National Security Challenges: Policy Option”, organied by the Alumni Association of the National Defence College, Abuja.
He said that while the security chiefs were excited by the prospect of peace, they had to be cautious about the olive branch offered by the sect. As such, the government could only take the sect seriously if no public place, place of worship or security formation is not attacked in the next 30 days.
He also expressed his hope that the development would result in improved security.
He said, “You see, we must treat that with a lot of caution. You understand, 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. You see we must take this with a lot of caution. That is what I am telling you.
“We hope whatever that must have brought about this will further enhance our security and it’s like 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.”
Speaking also on the crisis in Mali, the CDS, stated that Nigerian troops were performing very well in their peacekeeping operations in the embattled francophone country.
He said that things were moving very fast in Mali and commended Western powers such as France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the African Union for the support they gave to ECOWAS in the challenge to free Northern Mali from the grip of terrorists.
Boko Haram’s commander for Southern and Northern Borno, MuhammedAbdulazeez , had on Monday released a statement said the sect had agreed to stop its violence after a dialogue with the Borno State Government. He also urged all the members of the sect to lay down their arms in honour of the declaration.
He said that the ceasefire had become necessary in view of the hardship caused other Muslims and Northerners by the activities of the sect. he also stated that security operatives were at liberty to arrest anyone found fomenting trouble after the ceasefire deal had been agreed to.
“For sometime now, we the members of Jamaatulahlil Boko Haram sunnalidawatiwal jihad otherwise known as Boko Haram have recently had a meeting and dialogue with the government of Borno State where we resolved that given the prevailing situation, there is the need for us to cease fire.
“We, on our own, in the top hierarchy of our movement under the leadership of Imam Abubakar Shekau, as well as some of our notable followers agreed that our brethren in Islam, both women and children are suffering unnecessarily; hence we resolved that we should bring this crisis to an end.
“We therefore call on all those that identify themselves with us and our cause, to from today(Monday) lay down their arms. Let every member who hears this announcement relay it to the next member who hasn’t heard.
“We have met with the Borno State Government on two occasions and the fallout of the meeting was to cease fire,” he said.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2011 initiated a dialogue between the Federal Government and the sect.
Obasanjo had visited the family of the late leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, in Maiduguri, where he was received by the father-in-law of the leader, Babakura Fuggu.
Fuggu was killed a few days after Obasanjo’s visit.
In November last year, the sect named a former Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and six others to mediate between it and the government.
Meanwhile, the FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir held a meeting with FCT security chiefs to discuss the rising influx of illegal immigrants in the FCT.
Those at the meeting included FCT Police Commissioner; Director, Department of State Security; FCT Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as representatives of Customs, Immigration and Prisons. Others were the FCT Permanent Secretary, Chairmen of the six Area Councils in the FCT, as well as top officials of the FCT Administration.
Recent reports had said that two Nigerian affiliates of the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — Boko Haram and the Jama’atuAnsarulMuslimina fi Biladis- Sudan — are planning major reprisal to protest the deployment of Nigerian soldiers in Northern Mali to flush out the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist groups, who have taken control of the vast desert territory.
Security agents had said that the sects may have brought terrorists into the country in order to carry out the attacks on government installations and in kidnapping high-profile persons.
The FCT minister stated that the meeting was called to appraise the security situation in Abuja, adding that it was normal for the FCT Administration to take proactive measures to reduce any possibility of security breach in the territory.
He emphasised that the government would not want to be taken unawares as the security of lives and property remained important to the Federal Government. He also called for continued collaborationand sharing of information with a view to ensuring synergy amongst all the security outfits in the FCT.
While reminding them of the constant need to share intelligence , Mohammed promised to support the security agencies by procuring new equipment to ease their operations.
He said, “Security agencies in the Federal Capital Territory should be on red alert to effectively take precautionary measures against any unforeseen circumstances. Residents are enjoined to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement to the security agents.”
The NIS could however not be reached for comments on the alleged influx of immigrants into the FCT as its new public relations officer, Ekpedeme King, could not be reached on the phone.
He did not respond to a text message sent to his phone.
The Federal Government’s military intervention in the Malian crisis was part of the moves to solve the terrorism problem in the country, which is believed to have foreign backing.