Conflict & Justice

'Come out and talk,' Nigerian leader tells Boko Haram


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan (R) listens to relatives of Christmas bomb blast's victims as he visits the damaged St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near the capital Abuja on December 31, 2011. Jonathan said today the 'cancerous' Boko Haram Islamist sect blamed for hundreds of deaths wanted to destroy the country but would be foiled. Nigeria on December 26 probed a wave of Christmas Day bomb attacks that killed at least 40 and was blamed on Islamists, including one blast that ripped through a crowd of worshippers exiting mass.


Wole Emmanuel

The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, has urged the Islamist group Boko Haram to identify itself – and state its demands – with the aim of dialogue, Reuters reported.

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Jonathan said Boko Haram had links with extremist groups outside Nigeria, and that if the militants did not identify itself, talks would be impossible:

"If they clearly identify themselves now and say this is the reason why we are resisting, this is the reason why we are confronting government or this is the reason why we destroy some innocent people and their properties ... then there will be a basis for dialogue."

Jonathan, who has been criticized for his handling of the crisis in the north, acknowledged that military confrontation alone was not enough to stop terror attacks.

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden,” has claimed responsibility for a spate of attacks in the north, mostly targeting police.

Jonathan’s appeal to Boko Haram comes as the man claiming to be the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, issued new threats in a message posted on You Tube, the News24 online news site reported.

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The message, which has not been formally authenticated, said last week's gun and bomb attacks in Kano, which killed 185 people, were in retaliation for the capture and torture of Boko Haram members.

Meanwhile Nigerian police say they have arrested 200 people in connection with the Kano attacks, Agence France Presse reported.

An anonymous police official said 80 percent of those apprehended were “Chadian mercenaries."

AFP also reported that a fresh blast hit a bus terminal in Kano, but there were no casualties.