One of the leaders of the Boko Haram sect, Aliyu Tashaku, monday ruled out going into talks with the federal government unless it met its condition for peace.
Speaking during an interview on the Hausa service of Radio France International (RFI), monitored in Sokoto, Tashaku said the federal government would need to convince the sect of its sincerity of purpose by releasing Boko Haram members in detention and ordering security agents to stop further arrests.
The conditions given by Tashaku, which were reaffirmation of earlier ones that the sect had given to embrace dialogue, came against the backdrop of the release of video clips by the insurgents, showing women and children the Boko Haram had kidnapped in retaliation for the arrest of its members’ wives and children.
Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for the attacks in Baga and Bama, in which scores of people were killed.
Tashaku who expressed reservations about the constitution of the Presidential Amnesty Committee for Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, also said the federal government should rebuild the sect’s mosques and members’ houses demolished by security operatives, adding that members of the Boko Haram sect should be allowed to perform their religious obligations like other adherents of other faith.
He also called for the withdraw of soldiers from their religious centres after which their leader, Sheik Abubakar Shekau, would come out and give the sect’s commitment to the negotiation process.
He explained that the sect had decided that it would meet with the amnesty committee because it believed there was a plot against Muslims and the north in general.
“In the first instance, the Boko Haram sect opened up to the amnesty committee because we realised that some members of the committee are men of integrity who will stand on the path of truth and ensure
justice and fairness,” he said.
He accused the federal government of discrimination in handling thee security challenges in the country, adding that nothing has been done by the federal government against those who massacred policemen in Nasarawa State last week.
Meanwhile, in a new video clip purportedly released yesterday by Shekau, Boko Haram said it had abducted women and children in response to the arrest of its members’ wives and children.
If confirmed, these would be the first Nigerians taken hostage by Boko Haram.
In the video, Shekau also said the group was behind two recent attacks in the north-east, which left an estimated 240 people dead.
Shekau did not name the women and children whom he said the group had seized, or say how many they were.
This was in response to the security forces arresting women, children and infants related to Boko Haram members in Kano, Bauchi and Damaturu, he added.
“In a single house in Damaturu, eight of our women and 14 children were arrested.
“No one in this country will enjoy his women and children” if the relatives of Boko Haram members were not released,” he said.
Shekau confirmed that the group carried out a series of attacks in recent weeks – including a raid on May 7 by about 200 heavily-armed men on Bama village, in Borno State near Nigeria’s border with Cameroun.
“We are the ones that carried out the Bama attack,” he said.
Five-five people were killed and 105 prisoners freed in the raids on a police station, military barracks and government buildings.
Shekau said Boko Haram had also carried out a “small operation” on the northern town of Baga on April 16.
JD: The Boko Haram issue leaves one more and more confused by the day as the goalpost keeps shifting.compounded with the factionalisation of the group one can genuinely be worried if a dialogue approach to the issue will amount to much.We can only hopefully, keep hope alive.