The self-proclaimed commander of a militant sect of extremists with loose ties to al-Qaida has declared a ceasefire against Nigeria on Monday, according to Reuters .
Sheikh Mohammed Abdulazeez, had previously said his group, Boko Haram, was willing to hold peace talks with the government, but is now claiming a ceasefire has been put into place with the approval of the group's leader. Boko Haram has attacked and killed hundreds of people since it began its attacks in 2009.
Here's the latest on the reported ceasefire and how Nigeria and analysts are interpreting the unsolicited peace overture.
Nigerian authorities welcome offer skeptically
In another Reuters report , Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, a spokesman for joint military and police forces (JTF) in Borno state, said that dialogue and a ceasefire would be welcomed in an effort to end the conflict. But he warned that "be that as it may, the JFT will remain in a staging position to continue maintaining law and order ... in its area of operational responsibility."
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has not been heard from regarding the offer by Abdulazeez. Though Abdulazeez was speaking from the group's headquarters in Maiduguri in the northeast, Reuters noted that there was speculation regarding whether he was speaking on behalf of the entire group or just one faction, representing a split in the militant group's organization.
An Associated Press report indicated that it was uncertain whether Abdulazeez has met with Borno state representatives, as he had claimed in brokering the cease-fire agreement, and that Borno state spokesman Isa Gusau did not confirm a meeting.
Even while declaring the temporary peace agreement, a village in Borno state was revealed to have been attacked by alleged Boko Haram militants, leaving eight people dead. A witness claimed to have seen headless bodies on Sunday in the village of Gajiganna.
France urges citizens to leave northern Nigeria
Despite the ceasefire offer, France has urged its citizens to leave northern Nigeria and the capital of Abuja due to its own intervention in Mali, according to another Reuters report.
France spearheaded a counter-offensive against al-Qaida-backed rebels in northern Mali two weeks ago.
France has 2,000 citizens living in Nigeria. Last month a French national was kidnapped by the group Ansaru near the northern border with Niger and claims it will continue to target French citizens in retaliation for the Mali intervention. Ansaru is believed to have ties with Boko Haram.
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.
- Politics & Government
- Unrest, Conflicts & War
- Boko Haram