by Rachel Ogbu
Following a double suicide bombing that killed at least 17 people at the Protestant Military Church, Armed Forces Command and Staff College in Jaji, Kaduna State, the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, allegedly distributed a letter requesting dialogue with the Federal Government.
According to reports, the letter sent through head of journalists in Borno State, Aba Kakami who often received and distributed statements from the sect.
Sheik Abu Mohammed Ibn Abdulazeez, a man known in security sources to be a moderate senior member of the sect signed the letter that could mark a change.
Abdulazeez first contacted journalists in Maiduguri earlier this month, setting conditions for peace talks in the teleconference and nominating former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari , as a mediator but Buhari declined the offer.
“We are by this letter of invitation to our respected elders proving to government that we are not joking with the government, but we are awaiting the response of those concerned,” Abdulazeez said in the letter after establishing he was speaking on behalf of Abubakar Shekau, the sect’s leader.
The letter then nominated Imam Gabchiya, an official of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State as its new mediator.
There was no immediate reaction from Federal Government officials, but President Goodluck Jonathan said on November 18 that no talks were going on with Boko Haram.
The handover of the letter came three days after the army offered a N290m reward for information to help capture 19 leading members of the sect.
Nearly 3,000 people are dead as a result of the conflict that began in 2009, Human Rights Watch reports.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Olasa’ad Ibrahim, said that due process will not be ignored in disciplining soldiers on duty when suicide bombers attacked the military church in Jaji on Sunday.
“We expect that the Board of Enquiry will reflect blame worthiness of the few and then we will treat it on its merit, but we cannot pre-empt what took place and how the bomb-laden vehicles got into the cantonment.
“We also respect due process and the rule of law and there are codes out there that we must insist on because those are the only ways we can render justice but the report itself is the only thing that can define precisely who is to blame and who is not to be blamed and who is to be rewarded for exemplary actions.
“Perhaps with the lesson now, we could not afford to take anything for granted. So, we will put it behind us quickly after the board of inquiry and then we will put some other mechanisms in place to prevent such incident in the future,” Ibrahim said.