After about three years of attacks on security formations, public and worship places, the Jamaatul Ahjlil Sunna lidawati wal Jihad otherwise known as Boko Haram, on Monday agreed to cease fire.
The organisation’s Second Commander (southern and northern Borno), Muhammed Abdulaziz, in a statement, cited dialogue with the Borno State Government as reason.
In the statement released to journalists in Maiduguri, Borno State, the group advised its members to lay down their arms.
But the Federal Government, in a swift reaction, said it would not make a formal pronouncement yet on the ceasefire.
Abdulaziz, who was said to have been in company with another top member of the sect while reading the statement, did not say when the dialogue with the Borno State Government took place.
Assuring that the group was serious about the ceasefire, Abdulaziz said security agencies could, once the ceasefire is finetuned, go ahead and arrest anyone that violates it.
“We are going to comply with the cease- fire order and by the time we are done with that, then government security agencies can go ahead to arrest whoever they find carrying arms or killing under our name,” he said.
The group however, stated that although there was factions within its ranks, the supreme power to order a ceasefire rested with the leadership of Imam Abubakar Shekau,who is the leader of the authentic group.
The Boko Haram commander said “Once top members of our group, including Imam Abubakar Shekau, are in support of the need for a cease fire, other smaller factions can be dealt with easily.”
The statement reads:
“I, Sheikh Muhammed Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, is the 2nd Commander- in-charge of southern and northern Borno after Imam Abubakar Shekau of Jamaatul Ahjlil Sunna lidawati wal Jihad otherwise known as Boko Haram.“For sometime now, we the members of Jamaatul ahlil Boko Haram sunna lidawati wal 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. Presently, we are going to comply with the ceasefire order and by the time we are done with that, then security agencies could go ahead and arrest whoever they find carrying arms or killing under our name. We are very much aware of the fact that some criminals have infiltrated our movement and continued attacking and killing people using our name.“Of course, there is a faction within us, but the larger faction of our movement is the one in support of this ceasefire move. Moreover, once top members of our group, including Imam Abubakar Shekau, are in support of the need for ceasefire, other smaller factions can be dealt with easily.“This message, by the Grace of Allah, comes directly from the office of Imam Abubakar Shekau, the supreme leader of Jamaatul ahlil Sunna lidawati wal Jihad.”But the Federal Government, said it would properly study the conditions(if any) for the ceasefire before a decision and pronouncement could be made on it.
A top Presidency official, who pleaded anonymity, said, “From our experience, the sect is not reliable and their words cannot be taken at face value.
“All facets of governmental apparatus would be consulted before a final decision would be taken on the matter. We are not in a hurry to jump at their offer.
He added that while government was committed to dialogue, it would not negotiate with any group on a position of weakness.
He said security measures would continue to be taken to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo initiated a dialogue between the sect and the Federal Government when he visited the family of the late leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, in Maiduguri on September 15, 2011.
But a few days after the visit, the father in-law of the late Yusuf, Babakura Fuggu, who received Obasanjo, was killed.
In November last year, Boko Haram, named a former Head of State and presidential candidate for the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj.-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), among six prominent northerners, to mediate between it and the Federal Government.
Buhari, however, turned down the offer.
The group had demanded the arrest and prosecution of the former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
Its spokesman, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, who doubles as the Second-in-Command (Amir) to Shekau, stressed that, all their members, who were arrested must be released immediately. He also said that their wives and children who were displaced following the crises should be rehabilitated to allow room for dialogue with the Federal Government.
During a media chat on the Nigerian Television Authority, President Goodluck Jonathan had said that his administration had not commenced negotiation with the sect.
The President said, “So far, no dialogue is going on with the government and Boko Haram.”