Be Cautious of Boko Haram’s Ceasefire Announcement, Army Chief Warns FG
The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sahaad has asked the Federal Government to treat the ceasefire declared by a faction of the Boko Haram Islamic sect with caution.
Admiral Sahaad, who spoke with reporters after a meeting in Abuja, also called on government to strengthen its security operations all over the country to avert further attacks by the group.
According to him, defence officials are excited on the declaration of ceasefire by members of the sect but, will not rest on its oars in ensuring the security of lives and properties in Nigeria.
Other security officials in the country also commended members of the group for the ceasefire.
A faction of the Boko Haram sect had on Monday declared ceasefire after allegedly holding talks with “officials of Borno State Government and leaders of thought from the state”.
“I am announcing this ceasefire with the approval and consent of the leader Sheikh Abubakar Shekau. We, therefore, call on all our members to stop all acts of violent immediately and await further directives,” said Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who introduced himself as the second in command to Mr Shekau.
He added that members of the Boko Haram should relate the ceasefire message to those “who are not aware or informed of today’s (Monday) development.”
Aziz explained: “The Boko Haram ceasefire is nationwide and commences immediately.”
He, however, denied the group’s involvement in the recent attacks and killings in Borno and other parts of the North, attributing the violence to the activities of armed robbers and other criminals that allegedly operate under the guise of Boko Haram.
While speaking on the violence that took over Maiduguri recently, Aziz distanced the group from such acts, pointing out that such attacks were politically-motivated by those seeking power in the Borno Emirate Council, government or otherwise, but not in line with the ideology of the group who are fighting for the cause of Allah.
He also urged the Joint Task Force (JTF) and other security agents to respond positively to the ceasefire.
He said: “Talks with government officials on how to surrender our arms and weapons has also commenced,” urging members of the sect to cooperate fully, by surrendering their arms and weapons to security agents.
The group had on 1 November 2012 said they were ready to ceasefire and listed some conditions. The conditions included the arrest and prosecution of a former governor of Borno State, and also that the dialogue must take place in Saudi Arabia.
They had also demanded that all their members, who were arrested and under the custody of security agencies be released immediately, just as their wives and children who were displaced following the crises should be rehabilitated into the society to allow room for dialogue with the Federal Government.
Nigerian mediators who were to represent the group in the dialogue with the Federal Government had included Shettima Ali Monguno, Muhammadu Buhari, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari and Barrister Aisha Wakil and her husband.
Boko Haram, which in Hausa, loosely translates to mean “Western education is sinful”, said they were fighting to impose Islamic law on Nigeria.
At least 2,800 people have died in the North and Abuja since the group unleashed violence in 2009. Its most lethal attack killed at least 186 people in Kano in January 2012 in co-ordinated bombings and shootings.
The group has repeatedly struck churches during services, at Christmas and Easter killing scores of people. A bomb attack on St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla on Abuja’s outskirts during a packed Christmas Mass in 2011 killed at least 37 people.
Last Easter Sunday, a bombing at a church compound in northern Kaduna during a service killed at least 36 people.
In other major attacks, gunmen killed at least 19 people in two attacks on Christian worshippers in the Nigerian city of Kano and in the northeastern town of Maiduguri on April 29, 2012.
In June, three gunmen sprayed bullets at the congregation of a church in Biu Town, in northeastern Borno State. In Jos, a Boko Haram suicide bomber drove a car to the entrance of the Christ Chosen Church and blew it up.
In the same month, a bomb attack in a church in Kaduna triggered a week of tit-for-tat violence that killed at least 90 people.
In October a suicide bomber drove a sport utility vehicle full of explosives into a Catholic church during morning mass, killing eight and wounding more than 100. The most recent attack on a church a few weeks ago was when suicide bombers struck the St. Andrew Military Protestant Church at the Jaji barracks in Kaduna State killing 11 people and wounding 30.