Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Dateline Nigeria: Boko Haram Signs Ceasefire Deal and Begs for Forgiveness

Govt, Boko Haram Sign Ceasefire Agreement

The government and Boko Haram have agreed to end hostilities while a top member of the group has pleaded for forgiveness from those affected by their actions.
Maiduguri — Over 40 people suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect have been killed between Saturday and yesterday, when operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) cordoned-off Bulabulin and Ngarnam wards as well as Bayan Quarters - three areas believed to be sanctuaries of the insurgents in Maiduguri, witnesses and hospital sources said.
However, JTF spokesman, Lt Col Sagir Musa, who confirmed that security forces have taken over the areas, said operation is ongoing but did not give the actual number of people killed.
The spokesman however advised that residents passing through the areas should find alternative routes, pending when normalcy returned to the area.
Amidst all the sustained pressure by the government to crush the terrorist group in Nigeria, one of the influential leaders today apologized for the actions of the group and asked for forgiveness.  "WE are seeking forgiveness from the people over the number of people killed in the country.
I appeal to those who lost their loved ones to our activities to forgive us and on our side we have forgiven all those who committed atrocities against us. I want to state clearly that we have no hands in the unfortunate attack on the secondary school (Government Secondary School, Mamudo, Yobe State)."
With these words, Imam Muhammadu Marwana, an influential member of the Abubakar Shekau-led Boko Haram sect, yesterday, confirmed a ceasefire agreement with the Federal Government to end their deadly activities across most states of Northern Nigeria, which have claimed about 4,000 lives and destroyed properties worth billions of Naira since 2009.
The agreement came exactly 82 days after the Federal Government raised a 25-man committee to work out modalities for granting the amnesty to the sect.
Indeed, the Federal Government, yesterday, said that it had signed a ceasefire agreement with the militant group. Minister of Special Duties and Chairman of the Peace and Dialogue Committee in the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki announced the ceasefire agreement on the Hausa service of Radio France International monitored in Kano
The announcement came on the eve of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan expected to commence today throughout the world and also coincided with a vehement denial by the insurgents that they had no hands in the murder of 30 boarding students of a secondary school in Yobe weekend.
Although details of the peace deal were scanty, Turaki who spoke in Hausa further said that the Boko Haram insurgents had agreed to lay down their arms.
"We have sat down and agreed that Jama'atu Ahlul Sunnah Lidda'awati wal Jihad, known as Boko Haram will lay down their arms as part of the agreement so as to end the insurgency. Government agreed with ceasefire and will look into ways to ensure that the troops relax their activities till the final take off of the ceasefire," Turaki told his interviewers.
Our correspondent reports that for over a year, most residents of Bulabulin, Ngarnam and parts of Bayan Tasha (railway, close to the house of Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf) have fled their homes, a development which security sources said provided a fertile ground for insurgents to stay there.
Sagir said the ongoing operation was meant to reclaim the settlements for the rightful owners.
According to him, "in an effort to wipe out Boko Haram terrorists from deserted Bulabulin, Bayan Quarters and Ngarnam, the JTF has taken over the areas with deployment of personnel and equipment.
"Recall that the inhabitants of the areas were chased out of their houses by Boko Haram terrorists and converted most of the houses to hideouts or enclaves.
"The latest efforts of the task force led to the dislodgment of the insurgents and the recovery of arms, ammunitions, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and some terrorists died during an exchange of fire with the JTF troops," Sagir said.
He stated that on Saturday alone, troops recovered 6 RPG bombs, one sub-machine gun, 4 AK47 rifles, 4 RPG launchers, 7 empty magazines, three army camouflage uniforms and 2 tricycles in some hideouts in Bulabulin.
In another development, the JTF had commended what it described as "the patriotic efforts of citizens and residents of Borno State particularly the youth vigilante groups" that were determined to assisting security agencies to defeat Boko Haram terrorists in the state,
Meanwhile in Abuja as the trial of “Kabiru Sokoto” resumes — Kabiru Umar, a terrorist suspect, accused of masterminding the bombing of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, on Dec. 25, 2011, opened his defence at the Federal High Court on Monday in Abuja.
Giving evidence, Umar, alias "Kabiru Sokoto", who assumed the status of a witness, said the police and the State Security Service (SSS) extracted statement from him.
"I am aware of the charges brought against me; but, My Lord, I was tortured and mistreated several times to confess.
"All through the period of the investigation, I could not confess to the offence because I did not commit any offence.
"One of the operatives of the SSS asked me whether I knew one Habib Bama and I said no.
"He said to me that Bama was the actual mastermind of the bombings in Madalla.
"I was afraid of being killed, that was why I ran away from the custody the first time; I am innocent," he said.

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