News / Africa

Nigeria Launches Boko Haram Fact-Finding Panel

Shattered remnants are seen at the site of a bomb blast at a bar in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, July 3, 2011
Shattered remnants are seen at the site of a bomb blast at a bar in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, July 3, 2011

The Nigerian government has launched a fact-finding mission into the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks in the northeast and in the capital, Abuja.

Know thy enemy.  That appears to be the first order of business for the government committee officially inaugurated Tuesday.  Its seven members have two weeks to assess the security challenges in Nigeria's northeastern Borno State.

The committee marks the first real step toward a non-military solution regarding Boko Haram, which launched a brief and violent uprising against the government in July 2009.  The group has since been blamed for a string of bombings and shootings that have targeted churches, public gathering places, and authority figures such as police officers, clergy, and government officials.

The committee was originally tasked with opening negotiations with the militants.  But the secretary to the Nigerian government, Anyim Pius Anyim, said Tuesday that would be getting ahead of themselves. "That should be the second leg of the assignment.  You don't negotiate with who you don't know.  We don't know these people.  They are faceless.  You don't negotiate with the air.  We are providing a forum where whatever information you have, whatever opinion you have, whatever suggestion you have, relay it to this body," Anyim stated.

Indeed, much is unknown about Boko Haram, including its size, leadership and level of organization.

Boko Haram has rebuffed previous government overtures for dialogue, and building trust with the militants remains a formidable hurdle to negotiations.  Recent attempts by security forces to crack down on them have backfired, and some say have even escalated the violence.

The committee chairman, ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, said the problem is difficult but not "insurmountable" and called on Boko Haram to embrace the dialogue process. "I assure them that all of their genuine grievances will be addressed by the committee and appropriate recommendations made," Galtimari said.

Galtimari urged the group's members to appreciate that "the government is not against them and that society is not at war with them."

The group's name in the Hausa language means "Western education is sin."  It seeks to undermine state authority and calls for the stricter application of sharia, or Islamic law, in northern Nigeria.

Security analysts say Boko Haram is a symptom of larger issues in the north including poverty and a sense of alienation from the central government in Abuja.

Nigerian public affairs analyst, Kole Shittima, said the committee is a welcome step, but the government should not stop there. "This is a problem of human security.  It has to do with education, health, employment, so I hope that this discussion is not just about OK, lay down your arms and we are going to maybe exchange your arms for something," Shittima explained.

The committee will try to learn all it can about Boko Haram's leadership, grievances, and goals before recommending a course of action.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid