News / Africa

Hopes for Boko Haram Talks Fade as Nigeria Steps Up Pursuit

A Nigerian soldier secures the area at the United Nation's office following a suicide car bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 27, 2011.
A Nigerian soldier secures the area at the United Nation's office following a suicide car bomb attack in Abuja, Nigeria, Aug. 27, 2011.

Suspected terrorists on trial in Nigeria say their group, Boko Haram, is recruiting fighters to avenge the death of their leader while in police custody.

Meanwhile, Nigerian government hopes of starting talks with the Islamic sect are fading as security forces step up their pursuit.

President Goodluck Jonathan recently announced plans to open talks with  Boko Haram, the Islamic militant organization which has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings and shootings across northern Nigeria and in the capital.

A member of the government committee appointed to start negotiations says those efforts are now being overtaken by a harder-line approach following Boko Haram's bombing of U.N. headquarters in Abuja last month, which killed 23 people.

Magistrates on Tuesday charged eight men with bombing an electoral office, a political rally, and a church in March and July.  The charges carry a sentence of death by hanging.  All of the men pled not guilty.

One of the defendants, Ahmed Hassan Ezemako, told the court that he was recruited by Boko Haram to avenge the killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, who died in police custody two years ago following violence in the city of Jos.

Turning point

Five police officers are on trial in connection with Yusuf's death, which marked a turning point for the sect.  University of Abuja sociology professor Abubakar Umar Kari says the militancy that followed Yusuf's killing set back efforts to open talks.

"These people went further underground, regrouped, restrategized, and they bounced back and became such a menace that they now could threaten the very existence of the Nigerian state," said Kari.

Kari says the group's fundamentalism appeals to popular dissatisfaction with Nigerian life. "Boko Haram's existence and spread owes directly to the inability of the Nigerian state to address basic, fundamental problems of Nigerian citizens.  Problems of security, problems of employment, problems of poverty alleviation and so on and so forth.  So that is why it is very easy to recruit,” said the professor.

Retired Lieutenant General Jeremiah Useni heads a prominent group of religious and political leaders in northern Nigeria, an association known as the Arewa Consultative Forum.  He says President Jonathan should not turn his back on talks with Boko Haram.

“In a situation like this, you try any way possible," he said.  "There are those who think the government should dialogue with Boko Haram and those who say, 'No. Those are rogues. These are people who are killing. How can you sit and dialogue with them?'  There are divided views.  I don't blame the government if appeals fall on deaf ears.  If it is dialogue that will work, why not try it?”

Hopes for talks

With Nigerian security forces this week boosting patrols at universities, embassies, and government offices, sociology professor Kari says it is clear that prospects for negotiations with Boko Haram are fading.

“These people are not ghosts," said Kari. "They are not some spirits from outer space.  They are Nigerians.  Some of them are actually known.  And to me there are ways of reaching out to them to talk to them.  But instead of doing that, the Nigerian state mistakenly, and, it has now turned out, disastrously attempted to annihilate them.”

Boko Haram says it is fighting for an independent, Sharia-led nation in northern Nigeria and recognizes neither the federal constitution nor this year's election of President Jonathan.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid