September 29, 2011
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima said yesterday, that a top commander of the deadly sect, Boko Haram has been arrested alongside five other members. With the arrest, a relieved Governor Shettima who confirmed it to the Associated Press said, “I believe the worst is over”.
Governor Shettima told The Associated Press in an interview at his heavily guarded office that officials believe a negotiated peace can be reached with the sect now. He, however, warned that members of the group who still continue sectarian campaign of assassination and bombings will be hunted down by the increasing military and police presence in Borno state.
“I believe the worst is over,” Shettima said, adding that five others were also arrested and are being detained. The governor did not however disclose the name of the arrested commander and his foot soldiers.
The heavy presence of the military on the streets of Maiduguri, according to Governor Shettima has reduced violence in the city, adding that intelligence gathering by military and the police led to the arrest of the man responsible for planning and orchestrating attacks around the city.
“Five others also were arrested and are being held by military and the police”, he said.
Boko Haram maintains a loose command-and-control structure, allowing different groups to operate autonomously of each other, Shettima said, noting that “they operate in some sort of cells, some sort of units that interlinked, but generally they take directive from one commander.”
The Federal Government Committee on Boko Haram which submitted its report last Monday had recommended among others a dialogue between the government and the sect while the Sultan of Sokoto would represent the group at the talks. The committee claimed to have reached out to the sect and that its members were ready for talks with government.
The sect in its reaction the following day, however, distanced itself from the report saying its members were not ready for dialogue. Spokesman for the sect, Abu Qaqa in a telephone interview with newsmen said the group did not have any input in the report and denied that it was ready for peace talks with government. He vowed that the group will continue its attacks until its demands were met.
He added that the group was not satisfied with membership of the committee noting that those who advised the government to involve the Sultan of Sokoto did so without consulting the sect.
The demands of the sect according to him included “severe punishment for those who killed their leader, Mohammed Yusuf and other members of the sect in the July 2009 revolt.”
He said the group had also demanded that its places of worship which were destroyed in Maiduguri and other states in the country by security agents must be rebuilt as well as the release of all its members who were being detained while adequate compensation must be made for the loss of their property.