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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid