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.
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid