Renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Da-hiru Usman Bauchi, yesterday said that the Federal Government has commenced dialogue with the Jama’atu Ahlussiunnnati lidda’awati Wal Jihad, also called Boko Haram through his mediation effort.
Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi who disclosed this while briefing reporters during the birthday commemoration (Maulud) of the late Tijjaniyya scholar, Sheikh Ibrahim Nyas, in Bauchi, said the Bauchi State government has set up a committee for the purpose of the federal government.
According to him, the committee which membership includes former Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Aminu Sale, is linked to the presidency through Dr. Hassan Tukur, President Goodluck Jonathan’s Principal Private Secretary, and is already in contact with the Boko Haram leaders.
Efforts to confirm this from Tukur were not successful as he neither picked his call nor replied an sms sent to his mobile last night. But a reliable source at the Bauchi Government House confirmed the story, saying the government is committed to the dialogue process that is meant to bring peace.
Sheikh Dahiru said the committee had written a letter to Boko Haram, on request from its leadership to intimate it of government’s resolve to dialogue with them, and is awaiting reply to push the process further.
A prominent cleric of the Tijjaniyya Islamic sect, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi is known to have wide links with northern Emirs and commands respect from followers of the Tijjaniyya ideology in Nigeria.
Giving details of the process, the cleric said: “Several months back we started making effort to intervene and negotiate between the Boko Haram and the Federal Government. We did our best and located them through a scholar called Sheikh Umar Mohammed Diyar in Damaturu who assisted us. We told them that ongoing killing of people is not in the interest of Islam because presently, under a peaceful atmosphere, in my schools, over 600 people are able to memorize the Holy Qur’; if there is no peace, how can we get hundreds of Qur’anic memorizers.”
Sheikh Dahiru said the members told him that Muslims who are on the path of Allah don’t seek for dialogue, quoting a verse from the Holy Qur’an. But he said he engaged them in an academic manner by quoting another verse to them which said if they (government) seek for dialogue and cease fire, you should agree.
He said: “We discussed and they agreed that they will dialogue with Federal Government through me because they believed I would not fail the trust they bestowed on me. And after that I told them I will meet the Federal Government. We met the Federal Government told them that they have fire in their hands and these people also has fire and fire can’t quench fire so let’s resolve to dialogue and they agreed.
“The Federal Government asked Bauchi State Government to set up a committee to dialogue through them, and we started me, the Principal Personal Secretary, PPS, to President Jonathan, Hassan Tukur. I also needed someone who knows the activities of government so I invited a former Secretary to the Federal Government, Alhaji Aminu Saleh, Wamban Katagum, who said he would be with me.
“After we met we went back to them (Boko Haram) and told them that the Federal Government had agreed to dialogue with them on condition that their leader would come out and announce a cease fire for three months or a minimum of 40 days and government will stop arresting their members. But they said they wanted it in writing and the Government wrote a letter to them through me and I gave them. We waited for some time and asked them the reply of the letter and they said they want the government to publicise the letter newspapers so that everybody will read and see.”
The scholar said it was on that basis that he invited reporters yesterday to show them the letter which was written to the sect by the Federal Government through the Bauchi State committee.
The letter which was signed by the Permanent Secretary Bauchi Government House Abdu Aliyu Ilelah on behalf of the committee reads in part: “The Committee set up by the Federal Government Of Nigeria here by appreciates the decision and commitment of Jama’atul Ahlusunnati Lidda’awati wal Jihad to negotiate peace with Government through Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi. The federal Government of Nigeria on its own part embraces the gesture and pledges to negotiate peace through Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi. We also hope that on its part Jama’atu Ahlussunnati Lidda’awati Wal Jihad will observe a cease fire and present terms for negotiations so that dialogue can commence.”
Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi said the committee would soon approach Boko Haram leaders to ask them to, in accordance with their promise, come out and announce a cease fire after which “we will also appeal to the Government to stop arresting their members after.”
“They will come out with their demands for government to know and government will also come out with their own; we will intervene and negotiate in order to have peace in Nigeria and Africa.”
On the attempt made by Dr Datti Ahmed to negotiate with Boko Haram, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi said: “I asked them and they told him that they did not asked Dr Datti to negotiate with anybody on their behalf, in fact they told me that don’t know him.”
Earlier this year, Dr Datti Ahmed President of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria (SCSN), announced that he was pulling out of a mediation effort to bring the Federal Government and the Boko Haram to talk following what he said was a betrayal from government side.
He said: “I felt very disturbed with the turn of events and the increasing cycle of massive violence in our country, and especially, in the Northern and Muslim part of Nigeria. We in the SCSN, therefore, made enquiries as to how to reach the current leadership of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda Awati wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram.
“Our enquiries led us to a reporter who we realized maintained close and valuable professional contact with leadership of the Sect. Through this Gentleman, we contacted the leadership of the Sect and established from them that as Muslims they were prepared to consider “Sulhu” which means” broad reconciliation” regarding the dispute between them and the Government.
“It was, at this juncture, that I and the Secretary General of the SCSN, on behalf of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria contacted the Federal Government at the highest level and intimated them of this great possibility of reconciliation and peaceful resolution of the crisis. This was on Monday, 5th March, 2012. My delegation was well received and a high-ranking civilian officer was appointed immediately to liaise with us towards a successful resolution of the crisis. To our shock and dismay, no sooner had we started this dialogue; Nigerian newspapers came out with a lot of the details of the meeting held.
“This development has embarrassed us very much and has created strong doubts in our minds about the sincerity of the Government’s side in our discussion as the discussion is supposed to be very confidential to achieve any success.
“In view of this unfortunate and unhelpful development, we have no option but to withdraw from these early discussions. We sincerely regret that an opportunity to negotiate and terminate this cycle of violence is being missed.”
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