The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, on Tuesday offered to hold talks with Boko Haram, if the Federal Government approves, to end the terror attacks by its members.
Abubakar, at a dinner for reporters on Monday night in Sokoto as part of the Ramadan, also urged the Federal Government to engage the Boko Haram in a dialogue.
But he warned that government should hold peace talks with the insurgents from a position of strength. He said: “We are ready to go anywhere to talk to anybody as long as there is a formula of what to be done. We don’t have any legal authority to call for a dialogue with any insurgent; the Federal Government must make the move.
“I have said it so many times that no amount of force can defeat insurgents. Dialogue is the best option, but we must negotiate on the platform of strength so that there will be peace. You must be stronger than the person you are negotiating with and when the insurgent knows you are stronger, he will listen and agree to your terms and there will be peace.
“I have seen what happened during my stay in Pakistan for three years. I have seen what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the United States of America is talking with the Taliban and Al- Qaeda. Even Pakistan, after fighting Taliban for several years, is following the path of dialogue. Why can’t we negotiate with Boko Haram and now release some prisoners for the Chibok girls?” The sultan also lamented the spike in Boko Haram attacks that have led to the rise in the death toll arising from the insurgency in the country. According to him, Nigeria can only achieve enduring peace through dialogue.
He also urged elected leaders to act to tame the insurgency in some parts of the country. He said: ”Elected leaders should do something urgently about this menace now so that Nigerians can go back to their normal lives in a country which is free. ”The Boko Haram people are not Muslims and their activities are not aimed at strengthening Islam; rather to destroy it. ”We must, therefore, condole with Nigerians over the senseless killings of innocent people in the past one week in Kano, Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Zaria, among others.”
The sultan dismissed claims that the Boko Haram insurgency was part of a plot to turn Nigeria into an Islamic nation. He said he would continue to work to ensure sustained harmony between the two major religions in Nigeria. He also welcomed the appointment of service chiefs and the National Security Adviser (NSA), saying, ‘‘we know them and we are confident that they will deliver.” The Chairman of the Sokoto council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Labaran Dundaye, commended the Sultan for sustaining the annual dinner.
“We will continue to operate according to the ethics of the noble profession of journalism to ensure the prevalence of peace and unity in Nigeria,” Dundaye said. Meanwhile, the United States has said the brutality and barbarism of Boko Haram know no bounds in view of the recent attacks by the insurgents on some countries in West Africa.
It also condemned the recent killings by Boko Haram in Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria. In a statement yesterday by the US Embassy in Nigeria, the US Department of State’s spokesperson, John Kirby, said the US condemned the “horrific and indiscriminate” Boko Haram suicide attacks on the Grand Marche in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena on Saturday, as well as attacks in Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria “over the past two days.”
“Boko Haram’s targeting of men, women and children highlights that the group’s brutality and barbarism know no bounds and we remain committed to working closely with the region to root out the threat posed by the group. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the soldiers, government officials, and civilians killed; we hope those who were injured will recover quickly,” Washington said.
The US government, however, praised the security forces of the three countries for their timely responses to “these callous and cowardly attacks on innocent civilians.” It expressed its commitment to support the governments and people of the Lake Chad Basin region in their ongoing struggle to degrade and defeat Boko Haram.