Yesterday, I blogged about a highly respected Islamic cleric and his efforts to facilitate dialogue between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram with the goal of a ceasefire. The cleric, Sheikh Da-hiru Usman Bauchi, had gone public about the effort, ostensibly at the request of Boko Haram. Today, Boko Haram issued a press statement in Maiduguri, on behalf of the Imam Abu Muhammad Abubakar Bin Shekau, utterly rejecting any dialogue with the federal government. The statement said that Boko Haram would “dismantle” the federal government and establish sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country. It also claimed responsibility for the June 6 murder of the retired deputy inspector general of police, Sale Abubakar Ningi.
Previous efforts to facilitate a dialogue between Boko Haram and the government have consistently failed. As I said yesterday, Sheikh Da-hiru Usman Bauchi’s report of his efforts to facilitate a dialogue and the initial positive response is credible. But it looks like hardliners (whoever they are) carried the day and scuttled the sheikh’s efforts. The fragmented nature of Boko Haram makes agreement on dialogue difficult. And, given Boko Haram’s successes, it is not clear that there is much support for it. The murder of the retired deputy inspector general of police and two of his entourage will underscore with government officials – on duty or retired – their vulnerability to Boko Haram.