The proposed peace talk between the Federal Government and Boko Haram has crumbled, even as the top command of Nigeria’s security apparatus has launched a fresh offensive to capture the sect’s leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau alive. The collapse of the planned dialogue is coming barely three weeks after the sect initiated a fresh move for ceasefire and peace talks.
The sect had on Thursday, November 1, announced, through one of its commanders, Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulaziz, that it will stop its campaign of violence in the northern part of the country if the government will offer its members compensation and arrest a former governor of Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The development came barely five days after Saturday Sun, in an exclusive story, reported that the Federal Government had discovered the operational base of the sect in northern Mali, where Boko Haram leader, Imam Abubakar Shekau, is believed to be coordinating attacks on Nigerian targets. The discovery followed an intelligence support from a super power nation with wide military interest across the world.
President Goodluck Jonathan had, in his reaction to the call for truce and peace talks, described the Boko Haram’s offer as a welcome development. Saturday Sun gathered that developments have since then convinced government that the sect “was obviously flying a kite to buy time, following the discovery of its operational base in northern Mali.”
As a result, a top level security source revealed that the Federal Government has decided to change its approach to resolving the Boko Haram debacle by deploying enormous resources to capture the leader of the sect. According to the source, “government is no longer keen on sending thousands of our troops to Mali to fight in a foreign land notwithstanding our commitment to the ECOWAS plan to put some troops together.
This is because the ECOWAS process will still need to get the approval of the United Nations and go through some international protocols which will be a little bit cumbersome and slow.” But beyond this, the security source disclosed, “the decision by government to change tactics is more of respecting our pact with the military leader in Mali, Captain Sanogo, who is seriously working with us on this project.
They (Malian authorities) are insisting that they don’t want foreign troops in their country because of the aftermath of that and as such they are now requesting for logistic support, including arms, ammunition and military wares that their own troops will use to flush out the rebels controlling North of Mali, where the Boko Haram leaders are hiding.”
It was further gathered that the decision to step down on deploying Nigerian troops to launch a direct attack on rebels’ stronghold in northern Mali is because “out of about three or four ECOWAS countries that share borders with Mali, only two have problems with the Toureg islamist rebels, while the others are okay with the group.
In essence, ECOWAS troops will not enjoy the full support of these other neighbouring countries, a development that may make our troops suffer heavy casualties because of likely sabotage.” To capture Shekau alive, it was further gathered, high-tech military and intelligence monitoring equipment have been deployed to Mali in addition to the physical presence of some operatives of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) to assist the Malian troops establish the exact location of Shekau, with a view to capturing him alive when the bombardment of the region begins in a couple of weeks.
“There is, no doubt, that we will support them (Malian troops) as already requested because we will now leave the battle for them to fight to liberate their own country, even though we are benefiting from the end result of the onslaught. Quantity of our logistic or military support is, however, what cannot be disclosed,” the security source added.
Saturday Sun gathered that though the office of the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd) is the one coordinating efforts to end Boko Haram insurgency in the country, dislodge them from their base in Mali and the latest move to capture Shekau alive, none of the officials in the office was ready to speak on the development as at press time.