We won’t negotiate under Boko Haram’s conditions – Presidency

by Hauwa Gambo

The presidency has made it clear that it is ready to dialogue with violent sect Boko Haram, but not under conditions it set last week, which included going to Saudi Arabia and release of their detained members.

According to Special Adviser to the President on Inter-Party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, speaking at an award ceremony organised by the Association of Anambra State Development Unions for distinguished Anambra citizens in Lagos, the group needs to recondiser its stance for the government to take it seriously.

“We have been calling for dialogue,” Mr. Obi said. “In a situation where you have uprising there is need to jaw-jaw. I think if they are truly and seriously interested in picking dialogue, we should engage them in dialogue.”

He insisted that the conditions are out of place: “You don’t place conditions before security agencies,” he said. “If a man is a criminal and has been arrested for criminality you don’t tell people to release him, it is not their duty. You go to court and let the court release him. But they want to engage in dialogue, yes they should be engaged in dialogue not with any precondition.”

Meanwhile, reactions have continued to follow the sect’s latest missive. Speaking to newsmen in Ile-Ilfe during the maiden edition of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade annual lecture series organized by the Ife Business School in honour of the Ooni, Dr Fredrick Fasehun approved of the sect’s offer but said former Head of State, Muhammad Buhai is not the right person for the mediation since hs still harbours resentment over his loss of the last presidential election.

Former governor of Kaduna, Balarabe Musa also weighed in: “The thing is this, let the dialogue take place so that we can know who the Boko Haram really are and also know what they stand for. Before now, we don’t know anything. We know that there is Boko Haram and that it is an Islamic sect but there is no proof of it. The dialogue will prove that there is an organisation that is aggrieved and that will be a step towards solving the problem. So, the dialogue is absolutely necessary. At the moment now, we have seen unnecessary killings, we don’t know who actually is responsible for that, we don’t know their objectives or grievances. It is a dialogue that will enable us know how to tackle it.”

However, another former presidential candidate, Dr Olopade Agoro disagreed. “Mention must be made of the fact that Boko Haram insurgents have continued waging deadly war against Nigeria in the past two years with loss of well over 2000 innocent lives of Muslims, Christians and the uncommitted; thousands more badly injured and or incapacitated and with loss of valuables worth billions of Naira,” he said.

“The most pertinent questions therefore to be asked at this stage are: Why was Saudi Arabia the suggested venue and all those mentioned as mediators being Muslims?

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