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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs