Sheikh Abubakar Shekau
Paul Ohia and John Shiklam
A man purported to be a spokesman for Boko Haram has said the group is engaged in direct talks with the Federal Government on ending violence in the country's North.
The Voice of America (VOA) said Tuesday it obtained a statement in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, from one Habu Mohammed, who claims to be a deputy to the sect's leader, Sheikh Abubakar Shekau, which said the militant group decided to initiate the peace moves in response to numerous public appeals for peace in the country.
VOA also quoted an anonymous senior government official, who confirmed the talks but could not provide additional details.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Nigeria, including church bombings and the bombing of a United Nations building.
Meanwhile, two suspected suicide bombers were killed yesterday in Kaduna as the home-made bombs they were carrying exploded before they could reach their target.
The bomb went off at about 5 pm on Ali Akilu Road when the suspected suicide bombers were riding on a motorcycle to their destination.
The blast injured a commercial motorcyclist who later died at 44 Army Referral Hospital, Kaduna, where he was taken for treatment.
The two suspected bombers were heading towards the northern part of Kaduna metropolis before the bomb accidentally blew them up, killing them instantly. There was no damage to any building around the area.
Security agents had difficulty chasing away bees that had swarmed on the area and had to shoot canisters of teargas into the air to disperse the bees in order to get to the victims.
According to a passerby, Mohammed Ibrahim, he suddenly heard a loud sound as the bomb went off and saw body parts of the victims scattered on the ground.
Another eyewitness, Rita James, who lives near the scene of the incident, said she and her sister were in the house when they heard the sound of the blast and ran out to find out what had happened only to be confronted with the sight of the victims’ dismembered bodies.
“We heard a very loud sound and we were scared. We ran out to see what caused the sound only to see the three victims, two dead and one alive, and three motorcycles. But when we got closer, we did not see the other victim again. The police did not come on time, but they later came to cordon off the road,” she said.
Confirming the incident, the acting Police Public Relations Officer, Abubakar Balteh, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said: “The people were carrying an object suspected to be an Improvised Explosive Device on a motorbike from Singer Roundabout towards Lugard Hall Roundabout close to the NNPC filling station when the device exploded, killing the two of them.
“We have sent forensic experts to the area to take evidence which we would analyse for additional information. We are on top of the situation.”