THE SUN: The Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, popularly called Boko Haram, has asked the federal and Borno State governments to compensate its leadership, members and families of its dead members, as a major condition to sustain the one-week-old ceasefire it announced last Monday. Saturday Sun gathered exclusively that the sect’s demand for monetary compensation, which will cost both the federal and Borno State governments nothing less than N26 billion has already been accepted by the Borno State government, which has been the worst hit by the activities of the sect.
The amount, it was gathered, could be more or less depending on the total number of the sect members that have been killed by the security agencies. According to a highly placed source, “the money being demanded by the sect leaders, they claim they will use it to compensate themselves, their members for all their losses, especially their houses, cars and businesses that have been destroyed by government.
They also said they need the money to take care of the families of their members that had been killed by soldiers. So, the figure for now can’t be less that N26 billion, but could be far more depending on the number of the sect members the government agreed its security agencies had killed so far. The figure can only be less if some government brings in some negotiation tricks.”
A top security source, who has the details of the meetings between Boko Haram representatives and the Borno State government officials, also told Saturday Sun that the same demand had earlier been made by the sect about six months ago but was not well treated by the Federal Government. According to the source, “the latest ceasefire by the sect is hinged on the same demand that had been made about six months ago when the people in Abuja, led by the new NSA, I mean Dasuki, went into peace talks with the sect leaders.
I think the peace process crashed then because the Federal Government was not ready to commit a kobo on the sect members, like it did and still doing for militants in the Niger Delta region. “So, the sect resumed hostilities, which got worse; but in the present case, the Borno government has offered to pay the sect part of the money, encourage other states, like Yobe and the Federal Government to contribute the rest. This is though not the only demand, but the decision of the Borno government to agree to the deal has led to the ceasefire, which came after over four weeks of secret talks with trusted aides of the governor.”
The discussion between the Borno State government and the sect was first made public last Monday by a top leader of the sect, Muhammed Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, who said his group will maintain his own side of the pact to halt all suicide attacks and await the government to fulfill its own side of the pact. The sect had declared, in its ceasefire proposal announced on Monday: “I, Sheikh Muhammed Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, 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 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 giving 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, called on all those that identify themselves with us and our cause, to from today 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 is to cease fire. Presently, we are going to comply with the ceasefire order and by the time we are done with that, government security agencies can go ahead to arrest whoever they find carrying arms or killing under our names.
We are very much aware of the fact that some criminals have infiltrated our movement and continued attacking and killing people using our names. “We have also told the government to try to live up to our demands that our members in detention should be released. We hope the government will not betray us this time round, because we all know that it was because of the continued detention of our members that this crisis continued for this long. And if government fails to do as it now promised, then this conflict will never have an end.
“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 a ceasefire, other smaller factions can be dealt with easily.” Though the sect, in the ceasefire announcement, stated that it had made some demands, which include the release of its members from various security detention centres in parts of the country, it however, kept silent on its demand for monetary compensation.
Another source very close to the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, who also confirmed the deal between the state government and the sect, told Saturday Sun: “The governor has to respond to the sect’s demand because the Federal Government seems not sincere or concerned about the security problem the people of the state are facing and has, as a result, bungled previous chances to make peace with the sect, but as the government on ground, which is feeling the heat of the sect activities, he (the governor) has to do something to help himself and his people and that is why we are where we are at this point.”
When asked how much the state government has accepted to pay the sect, the source stated: “I think some money would have been paid but that is still far from the reality because other states with the same problem will need to do something while the bulk of the process rests with the Federal Government.” The source, however, declined to mention a specific amount of what was demanded and how much must have been paid by the state government, giving security concern as an excuse. Another top presidential aide in Abuja also told Saturday Sun: “The issue of Boko Haram and the Borno State government negotiation is already before Mr. President.
So, only him or the NSA, Sambo Dasuki, who has been on top of the issue before now, can talk on record on it because of the sensitive nature of it and the security implication of whatever one says now.” The Special Adviser to the Borno State Governor on Communications, Isa Gusau, when contacted earlier in the week, had said he could not comment on what transpired between the state government and the sect. He, however, added that the state governor has always believed in dialogue as the better solution to the lingering crisis.
“I am not competent to speak on national security issues. We have a security council in Borno State. I am not a member of that council and of course, you know as much you will also agree with me that no governor will speak on such critical security issues. But I know since Gov Kashim Shettima became a governor-elect, he was the first to speak on the need for dialogue as the best way out. Governor Shettima has been very firm and consistent in his belief, as he has regularly advocated, that unless we want to engage in an endless war, the best way out of the crisis is dialogue towards a peaceful resolution and anytime someone is killed, be it a civilian, a security personnel or any member of the sect, the governor is usually and deeply pained, he hates to hear that someone loses his or her life, no matter who that person is.
He believes that the life of every Nigerian is worth preserving. It is the hope and prayers of Governor Shettima that not just peace but indeed, sustainable peace, is reclaimed in Borno and the rest of Nigeria in the quickest time because he knows like he says, that no society can thrive without peace,” Gusau had stated.