Jonathan Meets Boko Haram Leaders…The Secret Negotiation in Chad, It’s Not True, Says Abati
President Goodluck Jonathan has met with leaders of Boko Haram as part of efforts by his administration to end the insurgency spearheaded by the sect, which has worsened in the last few months.
A very reliable source confided in New Telegraph exclusively yesterday that the president met with Boko Haram leadership during his visit to Chad last week.
According to our source, Jonathan who met with key leaders and commanders of the sect was led to the talks by key diplomats in the Nigerian embassy in Chad.
The source said the talks were in two parts, with the first one held in a secret location outside N’djamena, the Chadian capital, while the second leg of the discussion, which was an open session, held in the capital.
It was gathered that former Borno State Governor, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, was a key facilitator of the discussion between the president and the insurgents and he was assisted by some international stakeholders to bring the two parties together.
The appearance of Sheriff in Chad at the time the president was visiting had drawn flaks from critics of the Jonathan administration, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) over allegations by an Australian negotiator, Dr.Stephen Davis, of being one of the chief sponsors of the terrorist group, an accusation he has denied.
The presidency also said the former governor was not on the presidential entourage to Chad but had come to the airport to welcome Jonathan.
The source said Sheriff was able to play a key role in bringing the two parties together because of the respect he commands in the top echelon of the Chadian government.
The source added that the main purpose of the president’s trip to Chad was to meet with the Boko Haram leaders so that the Federal Government could curtail the rampage of the sect, which had taken a new vigour in recent months with the seizure of towns and communities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
But it was packaged like a diplomatic visit to Chad so that Jonathan could hold talks with Chadian President Idriss Déby on how to tackle the insurgency ravaging Nigeria, which gained international attention with the abduction of about 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram at the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State in April.
He explained that although the diplomatic talks between the two leaders were centred on cooperation to fight the insurgency and the need to strengthen internal security in Chad, where the insurgents seek refuge after coming under attacks by Nigerian troops, the primary purpose was to meet with key elements in the sect.
Although the source declined to give detail of the discussion between the president and the insurgents, he said the discussion was fruitful and it informed the Federal Government’s optimism that between October and November, the insurgency would be over.
However, it is not clear whether Boko Haram can be trusted to keep its pact with the Federal Government given the ongoing attacks the insurgents are carrying out on several parts of Adamawa and Borno States.
When contacted on the matter, presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a reply to a text message sent by New Telegraph, denied that there was any meeting between the president and Boko Haram leader. “It’s absolutely not true. Please do not rely on bad authority,” he said.
But Sheriff, who reportedly played a key role in the negotiations, would neither confirm nor deny if there was a meeting between the president and the insurgents during the Chadian visit.
Meanwhile, House of Representatives members from the North-East yesterday appealed to the Federal Government to come to the aid of citizens in the zone who have been subjected to hardship by Boko Haram.
The lawmakers also said the situation in their constituencies was a humanitarian crisis of international proportion and alleged that there was a conspiracy and sabotage in the fight against terrorism in the region.
Moving the motion under matters of urgent public importance, Hon. Tahir Muhammad Monguno expressed concern on what he termed, “the dangerous territorial push by terrorists” who have now captured and are in control of seven local governments in Borno, two in Yobe and two in Adamawa.”
He said all security formations in the affected areas had either been sacked, or the operatives had fled their stations thereby enabling Boko Haram to declare a Caliphate and hoist their flags.
“The declaration of a caliphate means those areas are no longer under the sovereignty of Nigeria. Mr. Speaker, this is a serious threat to the territorial integrity of Nigeria. The same territorial integrity we all swore here to protect.
“In Michika for instance, where you have a large number of Christians, people are being forced to convert to Islam or be killed.
Those who feared for their lives and converted were conscripted into the fighting arm of the insurgents, while those who refused were instantaneously executed’. “I don’t want to believe that our military is not well armed.
The problem I think is that of motivation. As we speak, the military is not fully in control of Bama and other places captured. Let our military go and remove those terrorists from these local governments and return such places back to Nigeria”, Monguno stated.
Hon. Ganama Titsi, (PDP, Adamawa) who spoke in a similar vein, said: “What I stand here to canvass for like my brother said is to drum support for our military to go in and free these areas so that our people can be free.
“As I speak, a lot of people are deceased and there are no places or the freedom to even bury the dead. The situation is a humanitarian crisis.” Also contributing, Hon. Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim, said it was a moment for an open appeal to the Federal Government to find a way to end the insurgency.
Khadija told her colleagues that two major towns in her constituency had been taken over by Boko Haram insurgents, with the people made to flee their homes.
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