Civil rights activist Mallam Shehu Sani has doubted the sincerity of the ceasefire declared by the Boko Haram (Western education is a sin) sect.
But the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Middle Belt Youth Forum welcomed the ceasefire, and cautioned that the government and the group should show sincerity in handling the issue.
Sani, who arranged a meeting between ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and the leaders of the sect in 2010, is believed to be close to its leaders. He said a ceasefire was declared in the past, but the killings and bombings did not stop.
“I do not share or believe that there is a ceasefire,” he said.
There was such a ceasefire and it was at that time that Gen. Mohammed Shuwa was killed and a bomber came and crashed into a church in Kaduna.
“The only ceasefire that I will recognise is the one that will be announced by Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the group himself. The ceasefire announced by Ibn Idris came with three conditions.
“These are that the government should release all their members being detained by security agents, build their mosques and compensate all their members. What happens if the government does not have it on its agenda to compensate them or rebuild their mosques?
“The problem is not between the group and the Borno State government, but between them and the security agencies controlled by the Federal Government. I don’t believe this so-called ceasefire will work.
“However, any genuine effort to end this whole thing will be welcome, but we should not raise any false hope and at the end of the day, nothing good comes out of it.”
However, the ACF said all patriotic Nigerians should welcome the decision by Boko Haram to to take a break in favour of constructive dialogue because what peace cannot achieve, violence cannot achieve.
Its spokesman, Anthony Sani, said in an SMS to The Nation that “given the past experiences when such offers were later denied by factions of the same sect, we wish to suggest a practical approach that can deliver.
“If leaders of Boko Haram are truly desirous of constructive dialogue with the Nigerian authority, but are afraid of being arrested or killed by the security agents, if they present themselves, such leaders should locate the courage of their conviction and approach any country of their choice, which has diplomatic relationship with Nigeria to play some mediatory roles in the ensuing dialogue.
“Once such a country agrees to play some roles, it would be left for the government of such a country to approach Nigeria’s government for effect. That is our recommendations.”
The President of the Middle Belt Youth Forum, Jonathan Asake, said the Forum welcomed the offer of dialogue by the group, adding that in considering the conditions set for dialogue by the group, the government should also consider the plight of all those who have suffered from the activities of the sect.
Asake, a former member of the House of Representatives, said people of the Middle Belt spread across Kaduna, Plateau, Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa, and other parts of the North have suffered from the activities of the group.
“While we welcome the offer of a ceasefire from the group, we also take note of the conditions given by the group. If the government is going to consider those conditions, they should also bear in mind that so many people have suffered as a result of their activities. Such people should also be assisted.
“I must say that the government must be careful on how it handles this whole thing in order not to create another crisis. So many people have suffered; many children have been rendered orphans; some businesses have folded up because of their activities and many churches have been destroyed. The government should be careful in handling this issue”, he said.
Some prominent northern leaders also expressed excitement over the ceasefire call.
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, Alhaji Mamman Danmusa and Alhaji Lawal Kaita noted that the decision has provided hope for Nigerians that the conflict destabilising North will soon abate.
Kaita, former governor of the old Kaduna State, said: “Any decision that will end the insurgency and restore peace to the region and country is a welcome development, It is my hope this time around the ceasefire works for good, even though some of us may be a bit confused regarding the authenticity of the information. The government should grab the opportunity to reach the party.”
Former Deputy Senate President Mamman Dan Musa said: “It is a good omen because this is the first time a leader of the sect is identifying himself publicly and this is why government should be serious about it.”