The Federal Government is willing to restart talks with the Boko Haram sect, the Interior minister said yesterday, hinting at fresh efforts to use mediated dialogue to end the sect's campaign of violence that claimed hundreds over the past two years.
Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmad who served as go-between between the government and the sect pulled out of the talks last month, citing government's insincerity after media leakages.
But Interior Minister Abba Moro told the BBC Hausa radio yesterday that the Federal Government would prefer for the talks to resume.
"I think first of foremost, accepting to go back at all to continue with the dialogue is a sign of sincerity. That is enough. And it is important that the sect should agree that the government is sincere and ready to talk through the intermediary," Moro said.
"But if you want dialogue you need to do it without conditions," he added.
Moro was speaking in response to remarks on Tuesday by American official Jonnie Carson that there was need for Nigeria to re-enter dialogue with the sect.
The minister said it was because of government's willingness for dialogue that President Jonathan spoke in support of mediated talks months ago.
Few days after Datti's withdrawal, Boko Haram said the collapse of the talks were a vindication of its long-held belief that the Federal Government was never willing to dialogue. It then said it would never resume negotiations with the government.
When asked yesterday when the government would re-engage the sect, Moro said, "As soon as the sect comes back. The Federal Government is ready to continue with the dialogue."
SSS: Poverty, unemployment must be tackled
The State Security Service yesterday said it has given advice to the Federal Government on addressing unemployment and poverty as parts of efforts to contain the Boko Haram insurgency.
It has been variously suggested that there is a connection between poverty and rise of Boko Haram, and a United States government official on Tuesday called on Nigeria to target poverty reduction as part of efforts to contain the sect.
At a briefing by the Joint Security Information Managers Committee in Abuja, spokesman for the SSS Marilyn Ogar said: "We are strong advocates against poor governance, unemployment and poverty. We identified these problems and advised the government. In Borno, the government is importing seedlings to distribute to unemployed youth to go into farming."
Ogar has said the security agencies were winning the fight against Boko Haram. "We are not overwhelmed by the sect because there is huge success in the fight against the sect. There is relative peace now," she said.
Spokesman for the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, said at the briefing that security forces are steps ahead of the sect by foiling their plans and arrest of top followers.
"We are ahead of the terrorists," he said.
"So there is no doubt that the security agencies are doing their best as there are many of such incidents which we have not been reported," he said.
"But they have been foiled because of the active and proactive intervention of the security agencies. That is why they have not been able to carry out their terrorist activities in different parts of the country."
On blocking of major roads in Abuja, Anas said the development was a direct reaction to information at the disposal of security agencies on the activities of terrorist groups.
The director said security agencies were aware of the inconveniences caused by the blocking and would take the necessary measures to improve the traffic situation as the situation improves.
"From time to time, security is beefed up in the FCT because credible threats are received by the agencies," he said.
"We are not unmindful of the traffic situation and the fact that it could cause some inconveniences. You know that security threats have hard and soft targets. As soon as the security situation improves, you will see improvement in these areas."
Anas said the JTF had recovered an unregistered Isuzu pick up van, a pump action gun, an AK 47 riffle, a double-barrel gun, a box loaded with assorted ammunition, 19 empty magazine of AK 47 riffles and a bullet proof jacket.
Other items recovered are a helmet and a DVD player from three Boko Haram suspects who were killed on April 9 in Borno.
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