An Unending War: After about five years of hostilities, Nigerian military forces and the Boko Haram terrorist group have agreed to a ceasefire. The development has been confirmed by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh.
The deal was reportedly struck on Friday with representatives of the Federal Government, the Chadian government and the Boko Haram sect in attendance. The CDS has ordered officers on the field to comply with the terms of the agreement.
There had been rumours of talks between the group and the Federal Government, especially over the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok, a community in Borno State. "I wish to inform this audience that a ceasefire agreement has been concluded," Badeh said in a statement.
Chief of Defense Staff Alex Badeh issued an order Friday, telling all service chiefs “to comply with the ceasefire agreement between Nigeria and Boko Haram in all theaters of operations.” The text went out after Danladi Ahmadu, who calls himself the secretary-general of Boko Haram, told VOA that a cease-fire agreement had been reached.
Earlier, Ahmadu and a close advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan, Ambassador Hassan Tukur, told VOA that the sides were holding talks in Saudi Arabia, aided by Chadian President Idriss Deby and high-level officials from Cameroon.Those talks also focused on the release more than 200 girls abducted by Boko Haram six months ago. There was no immediate word on the fate of the girls.
Ahmadu, who said he is at a location on the Nigerian-Chadian border, said the girls are “in good condition and unharmed.”
On April 14, dozens of Boko Haram fighters stormed a secondary school in the remote northeastern village of Chibok, kidnapping around 270 girls. Fifty-seven managed to escape.Boko Haram leader “Abubakar Shekau” later threatened to sell the remainder as slave brides, vowing they would not be released until militant prisoners were freed from jail. Ahmadu would not elaborate on the conditions under which the girls would be freed.
The Saudi government is not involved in the negotiations.
Nigerian President Jonathan has been criticized at home and abroad for his slow response to the kidnapping and for the inability of Nigerian troops to quell the violence by the militants, seen as the biggest security threat to Africa’s top economy and leading energy producer.
Boko Haram has said it is fighting to establish an Islamic state in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria.The group has launched scores of attacks in the past five years, targeting markets, bus stations, government facilities, churches and even mosques. Militants recently took over some towns in the northeast for what the group’s leader said would be an Islamic caliphate.The Nigerian military says the man who appeared in Boko Haram videos as Abubakar Shekau was actually an impostor, and that the real Shekau was killed several years ago.It says the impostor was killed last month during a battle in the town of Konduga.
A new video of the man appeared a few days later but the military has stood by its assertion that the Boko Haram leader is dead.
The arrowhead of the negotiation is believed to be Danladi Ahmadu, the self-acclaimed Secretary-General of Boko Haram.Though it is not known whether Ahmadu and Abubakar Shekau belong to the same faction as Shekau. The Boko Haram leader had often stated that his organization would not enter into talks with the government.
In his Independence Day speech on October 1, President Jonathan had urged the group to embrace dialogue.