Minister of Special Duties and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, yesterday said that there was no basis for the Boko Haram Islamic sect to back out of the ceasefire agreement reached with the Federal Government.
He based his position on the discussions held so far with the group.
Turaki, however, noted that the framework for the terms and conditions of the ceasefire was being worked out, stressing that the truce agreement was not a temporary arrangement but was designed in such a way that it would put an end to the violence and bombings in the country.
Thousands of people have lost their lives and valuable property destroyed during the threeyear old insurgency by the sect.
Speaking with journalists after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, Turaki said: “The ceasefire is not something that is done for a specific period; it is something that should be forever.
“As far as we are concerned, it is something that has been agreed and I don’t think there will be any basis for anybody rescinding the agreement.
“We are working on it, especially now that there has been ceasefire directed by the Boko Haram and then we are discussing within the broader framework and as soon as we are done with that Nigerians will be communicated.”
Turaki explained that one of the things the Boko Haram sect took into consideration before the ceasefire agreement was the sincerity of the committee, which by implication, also means the sincerity of President Goodluck Jonathan in resolving the issue of insecurity in the North.
Apart from taking into consideration the Ramadan, to give peace a chance during the holy month, the minister said members of the sect were also convinced that it was not a trap.
He said: “Unlike their thinking that the committee was meant to serve as a trap for them, they also realised that not only is the committee very sincere, government and indeed Mr. President is also very sincere about the whole discussion.
“They also took into account the fasting during the month of Ramadan, which is on and felt that they should give peace a chance so that our Muslim sisters and brothers will be able to perform their religious obligation this month without any harassment, without any fear of any bomb exploding and any firing at them while they are in their places of worship.
“We are still working on the framework, where we will sign an agreement and we will make it public wherever and whenever we agree on the time and place and the international and local media, all Nigerians will be privy to it.
“It is something that will be done openly and transparently for everybody to know that indeed, not only have we been speaking with the proper people but that there has been a lot of good faith on both sides of the divide.”
He, however, added that the ceasefire did not mean the end of state of emergency in the three affected North-Eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, stressing that the military would have to observe and assess the situation and ensure that normalcy had returned.
Turaki stated that the committee was not restricting the dialogue for peace with only the Boko Haram sect, adding that his committee was also making efforts to reach out to other groups, including Ansaru, to ensure national peace and security.
On the recent attack in Yobe despite the ceasefire agreement, Turaki said it had not been established that the Boko Haram group was behind the attack.
He stressed that security agencies would do their job by thoroughly investigating the matter to determine those behind the recent attack.
But the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has dismissed the ceasefire agreement, saying that Nigerians should not be hoodwinked by the antics of the sect.
Oritsajafor, who stated this yesterday at the 9th National Assembly of the umbrella Christian body, maintained that they could not be taken for their words because the group had been factionalised.
He said: “Which Boko Haram? There have been all kinds of people that claim to be Boko Haram, now there are two groups, the Shekau group and Ansaru group, have you heard from them?
“Even if one person says I want peace, I drop my weapons, we will be happy, but I still continue to ask; which Boko Haram because we have seen situations in the past where they told us that some people said they now want to reach truce and the next day we saw people being killed there.”