Alhaji Tanimu Turaki
* Role of the c'ttee indispensable No ceasefire agreement yet, but negotiation is ongoing
By Senator Iroegbu
The Minister of Special Duties and Chairman, Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution on Security Challenges in the North (Amnesty Committee), Alhaji Tanimu Turaki, has assured Nigerians that the committee is resolute in its bid to negotiate peace agreement with the Boko Haram insurgents, despite the recent terrorist attack by the group on innocent civilians in Sabon-Gari, Kano State.
Turaki gave this assurance Wednesday, in response to THISDAY enquiries over the relevance of the committee’s purported ceasefire agreement with the sect.
He said the committee was not in any way deterred by the Kano mayhem and, therefore, would continue with its mandate of dialogue with the group.
“We are on course. The Kano bombing will not deter us from continuing with the efforts we are making towards ensuring that we attain dialogue and peaceful resolution of this matter,” he said.
Also, another source close to the committee stated that at the moment, the Boko Haram Amnesty Committee was indispensable, as there was no alternative to it with regards to restoring peace in the northern part of the country.
The source also noted that the two-month extension given the committee recently by President Goodluck Jonathan was a vote of confidence on them.
The source said: “If they don’t consider them relevant, he wouldn’t have given them that the two months. Assuming they had given them a shorter time, you would have said it is a sign to round up but for giving them two months, I think is a measure of confidence.
“It is a measure of confidence now. If the president had given them one week, I will say it is a sign to start packing up, but I must tell you that giving them two months is a measure of confidence. It is a great deal of confidence on the committee.
“Have people even looked at this issue critically. If you dissolve that committee today, you must set up something to inter-phase those people and government, even if it is a small faction of Boko Haram group that you are dealing with. You are quite aware that they (Boko Haram) can’t deal with the soldiers directly. So that committee is very much indispensable, regardless of the quantum of the success or otherwise we have seen. I must tell you that if you dissolve that committee today, you have to set up another one as a matter of necessity.
“That is where people like me are having problem...if the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) say dissolve this committee, have they offered alternative solution to protecting people in the North? To the best of my knowledge, they have not told government what to do.”
THISDAY was also informed that there was no ceasefire agreement on the table, yet as what merely existed was a negotiation with the Marwana faction of the Boko Haram group.
Responding to the allegation that the military and other security agencies were not carried along in the ceasefire negotiation, the source said it was deliberate as Boko Haram could never dialogue directly with the armed forces.
The source, however, noted that nobody had stopped the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) from carrying and continuing with their mandate of enforcing the state of emergency rule in the affected states.
It also clarified that the Boko Haram group had split into factions and were aware that while the Abubakar Shekau-led group opposed the dialogue, another faction led by Marwana was carrying on with the committee’s proposed negotiation.
“To the best of my knowledge, the committee have never told soldiers to stop operations. Shekau himself has come out to say that he is not part of that agreement to Marwana coming out to say; I am part of the agreement. You read the report of the other seven commanders that said they have surrendered. So there is no doubt about Shekau saying he is not part of the ceasefire agreement but that does not mean that he is not part of them who have agreed to it.
“The kind of absolute compliance is not applicable because even if their boss said he has accepted the ceasefire, there will still be renegade members. It is happening in the Niger Delta. Till today there are still pockets of people who are making trouble in the Niger Delta despite the fact that the big commanders are part of the amnesty in Abuja. This is what people should understand in the wider picture that if you remove the committee, there must be a body to play this role. This is an undeniable fact, except the President will come by himself and start negotiating with them."