A leader of the Boko Haram sect, Muhammad Marwan, has said that if the Federal Government would not blackmail or deceive them as was done in the past, they will be ready to avail themselves for dialogue as was initiated by the Northern Elders Forum.
Marwan spoke in an interview with the Hausa Service of the Voice of America (VOA) monitored in Kaduna on Tuesday, adding that he was speaking on behalf of members of Jamatul Ahlus Sunnati lil Daawati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, on the call by Northern Elders Forum for amnesty for the sect members.
“We thank Allah, we will extend our hands for dialogue to the northern elders just as was done before under my leadership. But if they come there shouldn’t be any deceit in it as was experienced in the past,” he said.
Marwan, who said they were yet to be contacted on the issue of amnesty, however agreed that dialogue was the most important thing in settling matters between aggrieved parties and hoped that a genuine and sincere discussion would eventually lead to amicable resolution of the dispute.
His words: My hope is this, everyday, it is the government that is seeking for this ,on matters pertaining to everyday life, we thank Allah our hope is that there shouldn’t be any deceit, let them come for it. This dialogue is the most important, it is what people want, anytime the issue of dialogue comes in, it is what people are looking for to settle matters between two warring factions.
“Nobody contacted us on this amnesty and we did not contact anybody also. What I’m saying now, truly you are talking with Muhammad Marwan and those that sat with me in the past, will definitely know that you are talking to Muhammad Marwan. I hope if they come through the right channel just as they came to us in the past, Allah willing, they will achieve the desired result. I am assuring the Muslim community particularly in the North, the desired result will be achieved but they should pray so that there will not be any blackmail and deceit on the government’s part as was experienced in the past. This should be their prayers,” he said.
Similarly, an analyst on Boko Haram issues currently in Washington DC for a course, Hamza Idris also spoke with the VOA Hausa Service on the proposed amnesty for the Boko Haram members, saying it’s a good intention but urged that there were certain matters that have to be looked at critically.
“For example it’s a person who believes he has offended that you can now tell that he has been forgiven. That’s my believe in the years that I’ve been writing on the Boko Haram. This is because the sect members still believe they have been offended, that the Federal Government offended them and therefore, if it comes to forgiving, it is they , if they wanted, that will forgive the federal government and not the government to forgive them. “
“Their thinking is what have they done? Like all these security breaches, in their opinion they feel it is like a revenge on what was done to them in 2009. The killing of their leader, destroying their mosque and dispersing the sect members. The government said that all their activities are not recognized by law.
“So when they decided to retaliate, they said they don’t even believe there is anything like government or leadership in the whole of Nigeria. So if you are granting amnesty to someone who doesn’t even recognize your existence, then there is a missing link. They don’t even believe in the existence of the Federal Government so it is something ambiguous to say you are granting them amnesty.
“But in my understanding, there are certain things that should be done. If you look at the past few months, their leader, Abubakar Shekau and those talking for the group have been explaining certain things ,if these things will be carefully looked at, if honest people will be engaged, religious leaders and so on, if people that will not bring the issues of politics will be involved, it will not be a surprise to achieve success.
“First and foremost, the kind of ideology they adopted is independent,on what pertains to religion. If you look at the constitution ,it gives people the freedom of worship. But when they were dispersed, they were denied the freedom to practice their kind of religion. When their mosque was destroyed, anybody who comes out and professed their kind of religion will be dealt with, security agents will arrest him and say the federal government is not in support of that religious creed.So it is therefore necessary to sit down with them and discuss these issues toward resolving them.
“Secondly, many of the sect members have been arrested and detained in prisons, military, police and other security camps like that of the SSS. They explained that it will not be possible to sit down with you for dialogue when everyday, your members are being arrested and detained.
“They also talked about their little children, wives that are detained and they believe in the whole world, nowhere is a war fought and children with their mothers are arrest and taken to unknown destinations. These are important issues that should be put on table to deliberate and find the solution.
“Also, this talk of nobody knows them, they are ghosts etc, it is an important problem that should be resolved. For example, the President had said he won’t grant amnesty to ghosts, and now he agreed to grant the amnesty to ghosts. This is difficult problem, in my opinion that statement should be changed, it should be now there are some sect members in detention and we are going to start discussing with them. If the talks are genuine and sincere, perhaps it won’t be difficult to achieve result.
“Many of them are detained, some in Abuja, some in Maiduguri, many were taken to other towns in the South. If you are talking of the youth, they are countless. If for example there was a raid in Maiduguri,40 to 50 youths will be arrested at a time .Weapons will be displayed that they belonged to the youths. So if such things are happening, the idea that no one knows them does not even arise. If you will arrest 40 and claim to have discovered certain weapons from them, them the idea of saying you don’t know them shouldn’t arise,” he said.