In a rare news conference in Maiduguri, addressed by four members of Boko Haram, led by Sheikh Abdulaziz Ibn Adam, the group said its ceasefire announced last month was still in force.
Unlike previous occasions when the group spoke by teleconferencing with reporters in the capital of Borno State, which, together with neighbouring Yobe State, is the epicentre of Boko Haram’s activities, the group’s members, who were photographed wearing hoods and socks, speaking physically with reporters.
They are in a room with grey tiles and a small rug at the centre. They are seated on black leather seats, wearing black hand gloves and turbans on their necks.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) posted a photograph of the Boko Haram members at the news conference. In the photograph are four men, whose faces are hidden behind red and black hoods. Three of them are dressed in white long sleeves shirts. One wears a pair of blue jeans.
Ibn Adam, who claimed that the leader of the group, Sheik Abubakar Shekau, authorised the January 28 ceasefire declaration, insisted that it must be obeyed by all members.
He said his group was ready to dialogue with the government to end the bloody campaign, which is believed to have claimed thousands of lives since 2009.
He said the group had come to realise that it could not achieve its aim through violence.
“You will recall that we announced a ceasefire last month as a precondition for talks with government.
“But, sadly, after a few days of respite, violence began again in the country,” he said.
Ibn Adam said the group was not responsible for the renewed violence in some parts of Borno.
“Those currently engaged in this violence are not our people because our people are obedient to their leaders.
“Since the leadership has asked them to cease fire, they won’t continue with violence,” he said.
The committee on Reconciliation, Healing and Security set up by the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) has expressed hope about the end of the insurgency.
The chairman of the team, Air Vice Marshal Muktar Mohammed, said the committee had very fruitful discussions on the way out of the crisis, during its meetings with stakeholders.
“We met with all the stakeholders, like religious leaders, security, journalists, traditional rulers, youth, labour etc and our discussions were very fruitful. We expect light at the end of the tunnel”, Mukhtar said.
The group met with Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Babagoni Machina.