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April 21, 2013

Nigeria Boko Haram Commission in Dialogue to End Violence

by Peter Clottey

A leading member of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s Boko Haram Committee has expressed confidence the panel will come up with recommendations to help resolve Nigeria’s internal security crisis.

“As soon as the committee is inaugurated, I don’t think the chairman will waste time in convening the meeting and the beginning of the work. So we are looking forward to that,” said Sheikh Lemu, Boko Haram Committee leading member.  

Officials say Mr. Jonathan will officially inaugurate the commission this week.  Lemu says the group will objectively look at the security problems with the aim of coming up with effective solutions to the crisis.

“The group has many people of integrity, many people who have concern for peace security as well as development of Nigeria as a whole.  Therefore, I’m optimistic that we shall look into the problem very objectively and give our advice in the form of recommendations to Mr. President,” said Lemu.   

The committee has been tasked with engaging key members of the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram in a dialogue to end the violence by developing a framework that could lead to disarmament and compensation for victims of the group’s violent insurgency within 60 days.  But some Nigerians are skeptical about the prospects of the panel’s work, saying successive governments have failed to consider or implement recommendations of other groups tasked with solving the country’s challenges.

“The problem is that over the years other crisis that have happened in Nigeria, the government of the day will appoint a committee or commission, they will [present] their report [but] the government will dump it aside, and then the problem will recur,” Lemu said.

But he is hopeful Mr. Jonathan’s government will consider the group’s recommendations.

“Seeing that the government of the day has suffered from all that is happening in the country, we feel optimistic that whatever recommendations that this great body will give, the government will do something about it and we shall see positive results,” continued Lemu, “and with that optimism, I agreed to serve on the panel and I’m sure that something good will come out of it.”

Lemu agreed that expectations among Nigerians are high about finding solutions to the growing insecurity in parts of the country often carried out by Boko Haram.  He says there is need for improved security.

“What every Nigerian, the commission members as well as any other common man look forward to is security in the country, peace, and stability peaceful coexistence.  And the war forward is this peaceful coexistence, security and progress that is it because everybody is worried,’ said Lemu.

Members of the Boko Haram Islamic sect have been accused of carrying out violent attacks in an attempt to force the country to adopt strict Islamic law.

Human Rights Watch says Boko Haram-related violence has killed an estimated 3,000 people since 2009, a toll that includes killings by security forces.
Clottey interview with Sheikh Lemu, Boko Haram Committee member