Borno Begs Boko Haram To Reconsider Peace

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BORNO, March 21, (THEWILL) - The Borno State Government on Wednesday implored the Boko Haram Islamist fundamentalist sect to review its foreclosure of peaceful negotiation with government.

Spokesman Abdu Qaqa had on Tuesday insinuated that the sect is set to spearhead fresh wave of killings in the north, after the government frittered away whatever slim chance existed for peaceful negotiations.

“In fact, we have closed all possible doors of negotiation. We would never listen to any call for negotiations. Let the government forces do whatever they feel they can do, while we also use our wherewithal to do what we can, Qaqa had told journalists. “If the government thinks arresting our members will discourage us from launching onslaught, then let them continue arresting and killing our members.”

But speaking with THEWILL through its Commissioner for Information, Mr Inuwa Bwala, the Borno State Government urged the sect to see its earlier acceptance of overture for dialogue through the Dr Ibrahim Datti Ahmad-led Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN) as a step in the right direction.

“We may not be able to say much of whatever might have transpired between the sect and the Federal Government, which led to the collapse of the mediation because we have not been involved as such in the negotiation. But that is not to say we are not also pursuing our own separate negotiation from our end,” he said. “But essentially, whatever may have caused the breakdown of that dialogue may have to be looked into again.”

He argued that although the group may be dissatisfied with the handling of the initial phase of the dialogue and its leakage to the media, the negotiation table is still open. “At our end, our fingers are still crossed to the effect that the day they find it convenient to dialogue with us, we will be ready and honest about whatever we want to discuss with them.”

He agreed, though, that the botched dialogue was a bad omen, being the first real peace move to be initiated in months of ceaseless attacks. Yet he hoped for a second chance.

“In the first place, these sect members are our own brothers and again their victims are also our kiths and kins. We have never opted for any option than dialogue in our case and we have been pursuing that course seriously. Even at the inception of this administration, Gov Kashim Shettima maintained that dialogue remains the only option open to his government to resolve this crisis.

“So, we are still pursuing the option for dialogue irrespective of whatever transpired with the Federal Government; and whatever we intend to discuss with them is without prejudice whatsoever, to whatever they had wanted to discuss with the Federal Government.

“We wanted it to be a collaborative issue; and so, those at the state level, who ought to be involved in the dialogue especially with the Federal Government may have been contacted and that is not an issue everybody needs to know about.”