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
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
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.
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.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid