Penultimate Monday, minister of special duties Tanimu Turaki announced in a radio interview that the federal government had signed a ceasefire pact with Boko Haram. In another interview with the local media, published Tuesday, Turaki modified his earlier statement, saying the panel had yet to sign a pact with the sect but had reached an “understanding” with the insurgents.
These statements are patently contradictory and forebode an ominous rapprochement. It would be interesting to know the terms and conditions for ceasefire and the would-be obvious resultant processes of disarmament. People are concerned. -- and they have every reason to be. It is awkward that the minister said the sect had already declared a ceasefire ahead of the formal endorsement of a pact.
It may well be that the honourable minister was merely justifying the failure of his Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North. The committee was inaugurated on April 24 and has been bedevilled with a credibility crisis. Some nominees have resigned from the arduous task. From its media interface, it is easy to deduce that the committee will not be able to identify and constructively engage key leaders of the sect/insurgents. Almost three months on, the committee is still groping in the dark. It claimed to have met the arrowheads of the sect including detained Kabiru Sokoto who denied ever meeting the minister and his team. The insurgents have kept throwing bombs, slaughtering people and shooting at security men and civilians and attacking security formations, public schools and worship places.
This is not the first time the kite of a ceasefire would be flown. Last January, a faction of Boko Haram through the organisation’s supposed second-in-command (southern and northern Borno), Muhammed Abdulaziz, in a statement, cited dialogue with the Borno State government as reason for a ceasefire. The leadership went on to deny this, and, to drive home their point, they intensified attacks.
The insurgents supposedly believe the committee is one not meant to serve as a trap for them. The fasting of the month of Ramadan was also cited. These are as suspect as they are suspicious.
The federal government should be cautious and not be hoodwinked into a purported ceasefire “understanding” that is not enforceable. The leaders of Boko Haram, if they are serious, should lay down their arms and surrender themselves to security operatives. We also believe that if there is any sincerity in the purported ceasefire agreement, Nigerians will need to know the terms and conditions.