The Federal Government may have commenced considering the criteria for compensating members of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, particularly those who had suffered one form of injustice or the other.
Also there were indications on Sunday that the government might be willing to pay compensation to the sect’s members “who were seen to have been killed unjustly.”
A very dependable source in the Presidency told The PUNCH on Sunday that the Federal Government was not willing to miss the opportunity for dialogue as offered by a man believed to be the sect’s second-in-command, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz.
For this reason, he said, the government was willing to pay compensation, otherwise known as Diyya, to halt attacks by the sect.
He said, “I can confirm to you that it is true that the group is currently dialoguing with the government. The good news is that they are talking and they have promised to cease fire once some of their demands are met.
“For conditions that are not difficult to meet such as the demand for Diyya for their 24 identified members that were killed, the government may meet such demands.
“Government can also give critical thought to those found to be innocent, but are being detained or prosecuted, particularly women and children as demanded by the group since they do not have any objection to the trial of those genuinely involved in crime.”
It was, however, learnt that the government might not reach out to former Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to head the team that would dialogue with Boko Haram, as requested by the sect.
The sect had on Thursday expressed its desire to ceasefire and enter into dialogue with the government but demanded that Buhari should lead the discussion that must be held in Saudi Arabia.
But the Congress for Progressive Change had already said that Buhari, who is the national leader of the party, had nothing to do with members of the sect.
Our source said, “He (Buhari) is a former Head of State and he has people who speak for him. It has been widely reported that he would not take the offer, so why will government reach out to him?”
The same source had in August told one of our correspondents that government might accede to the sect’s demand for the payment of compensation or Diyya to Boko Haram members considered “killed unjustly” by security forces.
This formed an August 19, 2012 exclusive report published by SUNDAY PUNCH.
In the report, the sect was said to have identified about 24 of such members whom it claimed were killed unjustly.
One of them was the leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in 2010 in Maiduguri, after he had been reportedly captured alive by soldiers.
Yusuf was then handed over to the police, under whose custody, he died mysteriously.
The PUNCH learnt that the sect had put the compensation to the family of the 24 deceased members at N2m each.
Consequently, for the 24 families, the Diyya to be paid is N48m.
Apart from compensation, the sect is also pressing for the release of those unjustly detained.
Shortly after the sect rolled out its conditions for ceasefire on Thursday, the Presidency described it as a welcome development, “if it was intended to achieve the objectives of peace and security.”
Meanwhile, one of the people named by Boko Haram as mediators, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, said on Sunday that neither the Federal Government nor the sect had reached out to him over the proposed peace talks between the two parties.
The senator, however, refused to answer the question on whether he would be willing to play a mediatory role if invited by any of the parties or not.
The former governor said, “I have not been contacted by anybody, either from the Federal Government side or Boko Haram.
“What you have been hearing on radio or on televisions is false, thank you.”
Ibrahim is among the six mediators named by the sect on Thursday that would represent it in the proposed negotiation with the Federal Government
Others are a former Yobe State Governor, Shettima Ali Monguno; Ambassador Gaji Galtimari , Hajia Aisha Wakili and her husband, Alkali Wakili.
The group also gave a condition that the discussion with the government must take place in Saudi Arabia .
Ibrahim, who represents Yobe Central in the Senate, had been outspoken on issues of marginalisation of the North-East, saying that the situation had resulted in the heightened insecurity problem in the region.
Only last week, he denied predicting a situation “bigger than Boko Haram” after newspapers quoted him as justifying the sect’s insurgency as a result of long period of neglect of the North-East.