The Federal Government on Monday announced it had “reached an understanding” with the militant Islamic sect, Boko Haram, which would lead to the signing of a ceasefire deal with the group.
Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, said this while speaking on the Hausa Service of Radio France International on Monday.
Turaki, who is also the Minister of Special Duties, however, said the panel had not signed an agreement with the violent sect.
The amnesty panel boss “revelation” came a day to the commencement of the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan, expected to start on Tuesday (today).
In an interview with The PUNCH on Monday, Turaki said, “It is not an agreement; we have reached an understanding with the leadership of Boko Haram arising from weeks of discussion and interface that we have been having with them.
“We will now move to the issue of parameters for an agreement and then when we are able to agree on the terms, the signing (of the agreement) will be done openly and all members of the press will be invited.
“But for now, they have agreed in principle that they have declared a ceasefire which we commended as it will bring a way forward to solving the problem.
“A declaration has been made and we commend them for that and we see it as a right step in the right direction.”
Asked to clarify the meaning of “reaching an understanding”, the committee chairman said, “We have discussed. Infact, we have been discussing for quite some time now. They have directed their (Boko Haram) members to ceasefire largely for the discussion we have had with them, and largely for the commencement of the fasting of the month of Ramadan.
“Formal agreement will follow in due course.”
The Federal Government, had on April 4, set up the amnesty panel to work out ways of arresting the growing violence and killings in the North by the Boko Haram.
Part of the progress recorded by the committee was the recommendation that wives and children of Boko Haram members, who were detained by security agencies, be released unconditionally.
The committee had visited various prisons in the country, holding talks with detained sect’s leaders and members, some of who are currently facing trial.
The terms of reference of the committee are “to consider the feasibility or otherwise of granting pardon to the Boko Haram adherents,
“Collate clamours arising from different interest groups who want the apex government to administer clemency on members of the religious sect; and
“To recommend modalities for the granting of the pardon, should such step become the logical one to take under the prevailing circumstance.”
In May, the Federal Government declared a state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states after the sect members carried out massive killings and bombings in Yobe and Borno states, including in Bama, where no fewer than 200 persons were reportredly killed.
Meanwhile, the government of Britain had disclosed plans to ban Boko Haram, a move that makes membership of or support for the organisation a criminal offence.
Britain’s Home Office said in a statement on Monday that Boko Haram would be added to its list of outlawed organisations, a roster of foreign and domestic terror groups that include al-Qaeda and the Irish Republican Army. The move is subject to parliamentary approval.