Citing the need to spare women and children further calamities engendered by its activities, the Boko Haram group on Monday declared a ceasefire.
But the ceasefire came with some conditions: Freedom for the arrested members of the group and the rebuilding of the destroyed mosque of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
Declaring the ceasefire Monday through a tele-conference at the Borno State Radio and Television (BRTV), spokesman of Boko Haram, and second-in-command of the group, Sheikh Abdul Aziz said: “This ceasefire being announced today, is a goodwill message from the Jamaatul Ahlus Sunnah Lid Dawatil wal Jihad (Boko Haram), following a series of meetings with government officials and leaders of thought in Borno State.
“I am announcing this ceasefire with the consent and approval of the leader of Boko Haram sect, Sheikh Abubakar Shekau. We therefore, call on all our members to stop all acts of violence immediately and await further directives. We have adopted this measure as a result of the hardship women and children are subjected to.”
He added that members of the Boko Haram should relate the ceasefire message to those “who are not aware or informed of today’s (Monday) development.”
Aziz explained: “The Boko Haram ceasefire is nationwide and commences immediately.”
He, however, denied the group’s involvement in the recent attacks and killings in Borno and other parts of the North, attributing the violence to the activities of armed robbers and other criminals that allegedly operate under the guise of Boko Haram.
While speaking on the violence that took over Maiduguri recently, Aziz distanced the group from such acts, pointing out that such attacks were politically-motivated by those seeking power in the Borno Emirate Council, government or otherwise, but not in line with the ideology of the group who are fighting for the cause of Allah.
He also said that the burning of old and newly constructed primary schools witnessed across the state was not masterminded by the group, insisting that the burning of such places was carried out by aggrieved politicians who were denied contracts from the state government.
He also urged the Joint Task Force (JTF) and other security agents to respond positively to the ceasefire.
He said: “Talks with government officials on how to surrender our arms and weapons has also commenced,” urging members of the sect to cooperate fully, by surrendering their arms and weapons to security agents.
Confirming the ceasefire, Borno State Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Isa Umar Gusau said that the Boko Haram insurgency was a national security issue, which involved the Presidency, National Security Adviser and JTF.
Gusau also said: “The ceasefire announced today was also as a result of Governor Kashim Shettima’s efforts at exploring all means to end the insurgency.”
Members of the group had on November 1 last year said they were ready to ceasefire and listed some conditions. The conditions included the arrest and prosecution of a former governor of Borno State, and also that the dialogue must take place in Saudi Arabia.
They had also demanded that all their members, who were arrested and under the custody of security agencies be released immediately, just as their wives and children who were displaced following the crises should be rehabilitated into the society to allow room for dialogue with the Federal Government.
Nigerian mediators who were to represent the group in the dialogue with the Federal Government had included Alhaji Shettima Ali Monguno, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Ambassador Gaji Galtimari and Barrister Aisha Wakil and her husband.