The Federal Government on Tuesday reacted to the offer of ceasefire by a faction of the fundamentalist Islamic group, Boko Haram, by giving a condition to the sect.
The condition: Boko Haram must stop its violence in the North for a period of one month.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, stated the Federal Government’s position just as the Federal Capital Territory Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed, summoned an emergency security meeting over increased presence of foreign immigrants in the FCT.
Ibrahim spoke with journalists at the opening of the 2013 seminar on National Security with the theme, Contemporary National Security Challenges: Policy Option, organised by the Alumni Association of the National Defence College, Abuja.
He said that while security chiefs were excited by the development, the olive branch offered by the sect called for caution.
Ibrahim said the government would only take the peace overture seriously if Boko Haram could ensure that attacks of whatever form did not take place for 30 days.
He stated that security operatives would wait for the period to see if no public place, security formation and place of worship was bombed before taking the sect seriously.
Ibrahim also said he was optimistic that the development would culminate in improved security in the country.
He said, “You see, we must treat that with a lot of caution. You understand, there are certain objective tests that will make sense. Let’s assume we can have a long period of about one month where no bomb explodes, where nobody is shot, where nobody is beheaded, where no church is bombed, where no mosque is threatened.
“If they can guarantee just one month, then we can begin to talk. You see we must take this with a lot of caution. That is what I am telling you.
“We hope that whatever must have brought about this will further enhance our security and it’s like a recognition of the very futile approach to solving whatever they consider to be their problems. So we are a bit excited by it but we are taking everything with a lot of caution.”
Boko Haram’s commander for Southern and Northern Borno, Muhammed Abdulazeez, had in a statement on Monday, said the sect resolved to stop its violence after a dialogue with the Government of Borno State in Maiduguri.
Abdulazeez urged all Boko Haram members to lay down their arms in honour of the declaration.
He said that the ceasefire had become necessary as a result of the hardship caused other Muslims and citizens of the North by the activities of the sect.
He stated that security operatives were free to arrest anybody found to be fomenting trouble after the perfection of the ceasefire deal.
Abdulazeez had said, “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 given 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 call on all those that identify themselves with us and our cause, to from today(Monday) 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 was to cease fire.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2011 initiated a dialogue between the Federal Government and the sect.
Obasanjo had visited the family of the late leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf, in Maiduguri, where he was received by the father-in-law of the leader, Babakura Fuggu.
Fuggu was killed a few days after Obasanjo’s visit.
In November last year, the sect named a former Head of State, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and six others to mediate between it and the government.
Meanwhile, the FCT Minister, Senator Mohammed, on Tuesday met with the FCT Police Commissioner; Director, Department of State Security; FCT Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as representatives of Customs, Immigration and Prisons in his official residence in Abuja.
Others at the meeting convened by the minister over the rising number of illegal immigrants in the FCT were the FCT Permanent Secretary, Chairmen of the six Area Councils in the FCT, as well as top officials of the FCT Administration.