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Nigeria Opposition Urges Government Dialogue with Boko Haram

Residents survey vehicles damaged after a bomb blast at a primary school in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, February 29, 2012.
Residents survey vehicles damaged after a bomb blast at a primary school in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's Borno state, February 29, 2012.

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  • Clottey interview with Lai Mohamed, spokesman for Nigeria’s opposition Action Congress (AC) Party

Peter Clottey

The spokesman for Nigeria’s opposition Action Congress (AC) Party said the latest government security effort is unlikely to succeed against threats posed by the Boko Haram Islamist sect.

Lai Mohamed said the only way the administration can resolve what he called the “Boko Haram menace” is to engage members of the sect in negotiations to resolve their concerns.

The administration this week ordered all government buildings to be equipped with surveillance equipment immediately in an effort, they said, to prevent the sect from using letter bombs as part of its terrorist activities.

Mohamed said the equipment “will not solve the problem.”

“There must be, first and foremost, an understanding of the Boko Haram phenomenon.  Then, there must be a very intelligent approach to how to address it,” said Mohammed.

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, seeks to impose a strict form of sharia, or Islamic, law in northern Nigeria, and to end graft.  The group is blamed for killing hundreds of people this year in Nigeria and claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bombings.

In its 2012 budget, the government allocated more than $6 million to help bolster internal security and combat the Islamic sect, which officials have called the country’s biggest security threat.

But, he said it appears some politicians are taking undue advantage of the security crisis.

“Unfortunately, this has confirmed some of our worse fears that some people are determined to exploit and make as much money from the Boko Haram phenomenon,” said Mohammed.  “That, I think, is why they are discouraging the government from some meaningful approach to the Boko Haram [violence].”

Mohammed insisted that the origins of the sect could be traced to its displeasure of “perceived corruption.”  He blamed bad governance for nurturing the sect “to become the monster that it has become today.”

He maintained the solution to the security crisis lies in negotiations.

“We believe that this matter will only be resolved if there is an honest attempt by the government to engage [Boko Haram] in some meaningful talks,” said Mohammed.

“The Boko Haram people are not fighting a conventional war and that is why it will be difficult [to use the military].  Let’s discuss with them what their grievances are.  No matter how ridiculous their demands are, it can be watered down and we can arrive at an agreeable conclusion or decision.”

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by: clement
April 16, 2012 8:25 AM
I had always said that the answer is THRUE FEDERALISM were everybody will go home and put her house in order,otherwise we will contenue to negotiate with ethnic militians i bet u if u finish with Boko Haram another group will be coming up from another region

by: taju
April 14, 2012 10:51 AM
what? dialogue with armed robber. these people called boko haram are blood sucker, they are thieves robbing banks , killing innocent people for nothing.they are coward people using islam for camouflage.where is it in the quran that say is fine to steal to promulgate islam

by: Toni
April 13, 2012 3:21 PM
I think the Nigerian Govt should investigate these Boko Haram sympathizers such as Mr Lai Mohammed and others. in this days and age; where the whole world is moving forward towards positive change, These murderers who parades them selves as BOKO HARAM want to bring our country backward. it is my view that the govt should not negotiate with terrorists and killers of innocent Nigerians.

by: triple a
April 13, 2012 11:47 AM
Dialogue with islamic sect is the solution to violence and killing innocent people.

by: s ducain
April 13, 2012 10:33 AM
You can't have talks with people who at best, belong in a psychiatric facility.
They are casually and brutally murdering mostly Christians as if playing a
computer game . It is solely a problem of military logistics. As far as poverty
is concerned, it is entirely self-inflicted.

by: Edwin Kaliku PhD.
April 13, 2012 10:20 AM
I see no reason why Lai Mohammed can not talk with the devils, why is he waiting for the government, is he not part of the Nigerian government. Talk with them and let us know what to do. Poverty, lack of development and corruption gave birth to these devils. Government must take care of Nigerians now or never.

by: emmantoka
April 13, 2012 9:59 AM
how can nigeria government dialogue we boko haram after their muder cases , which we nigerias have a law under muders cases , so let them face the law no dialogue . in the slfe defence law , thier is no dialogue thanks.

by: Enyozia
April 13, 2012 8:02 AM
Would you negotiate with the Devil?

by: Ukeni Ewa
April 13, 2012 7:47 AM
This Nigerian Islamic terrorist group,the Boko Haram wants to Islamize
Nigeria through imposition of sharia.The sect is doing that by their mass
murder of innocent Christians and bombing of Churches.Anybody who
advocates for a dialogue with such a group must be a sympathizer or
mentally unstable.Has Lai Mohammed got his faculties about him?

by: Allen Okpoko
April 13, 2012 3:45 AM
Is Alhaji Lai Mohammed listening to himself at all?Over what should the
administration negotiate with the Hausa/Ffulani terrorists?Nigeria is
a secular Republic and that secularity of our nation is non-negotiable.Isn't
the Boko Haram sect already gaining some supports from the Yoruba
muslims like Lai Mohammed and his Principal,Alhaji Ahmed Tinubu?
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