President Jonathan Lists Terms for Talks with Boko Haram

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President Goodluck Jonathan
By Ibrahim Shuaibu and Christopher Isiguzo, with agency reports
President Goodluck Jonathan has challenged Boko Haram sect to identify themselves and state clearly their demands before government could engage them in a dialogue.
While acknowledging that military confrontation alone would not end their insurgency, he said there was no doubt that Boko Haram had links with other jihadist groups outside the country.

Jonathan spoke with Reuters news agency Thursday as:
•Police announced in Kano that 200 suspects, including some 160 Chadians, had been arrested in connection with last Friday’s blasts which killed at least 185 people; and
•Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, asked Northern leaders to rein in members of the Boko Haram sect.
Jonathan said in the interview: “If they clearly identify themselves now and say this is the reason why we are resisting, this is the reason why we are confronting government or this is the reason why we destroyed some innocent people and their properties... then there will be a basis for dialogue.
“We will dialogue, let us know your problems and we will solve your problems but if they don't identify themselves, who will you dialogue with?”
Military confrontation alone would not eliminate terror attacks, he said, adding that an "enabling environment for young people to find jobs" was also needed.
"If anybody invited Osama bin Laden (to talks), he wouldn't have appeared ... Boko Haram, if you invite them, they will not come. They operate without a face, they operate without a clear identity, so it is difficult to interface with such a group.
"That is the greatest difference between Boko Haram ... and the Niger Delta issue," he said.
Security experts have said there is growing evidence that the group, or some members within it, have received training and support from other jihadist groups such as al Qaeda's North African wing.
Jonathan refused to be drawn into specific details on this.
"There is a lot of evidence; there are linkages... no doubt about that. Meetings are being held in North Africa; the movement of people in these places has been monitored and noticed. The level of involvement and probably in terms of funding and equipment, I do not know," he said.
Security forces have come under fire for failing to protect civilians in the North and other places.
"They are trying," Jonathan said. "Terrorism is new in Nigeria, and since it is new, the security services have to change their methods. You cannot change methods overnight. But we will do more."
Jonathan said there might be some Northern politicians using Boko Haram militants for intimidation. He reiterated that there were sympathisers within the group at all levels of government.
"I will not rule out that maybe some politicians get close to some members of Boko Haram, but I will not say that Boko Haram is a political group trying to undo Goodluck Jonathan," he said. "I cannot say it's because a Southerner and a Christian is president that the Boko Haram saga comes up."
A police source said Thursday that 200 people, mostly Chadian "mercenaries", were in custody after the Kano massacre.
There was an explosion at a Kano bus terminal which caused no casualties.
"Many arrests have been made since the attacks," the police source said on condition of anonymity, referring to the Friday assaults. "We have arrested around 200 attackers and 80 per cent of them are Chadians. They came in as mercenaries."
There was no evidence linking Thursday's blast to Boko Haram.
"We just heard an explosion, nobody can confirm the cause. No loss of life or injuries was recorded. The area is being evacuated," a police spokesman in the city, Magaji Majia, told AFP.
A witness, however, claimed two people were injured.
Locals said the area, known as New Road, holds a bus terminal for people travelling to the South-east.
The police source who reported the Boko Haram arrests, also said that suspected members of the sect had reached out to the police for potential dialogue, with the emir of Kano as mediator.
"They said they want the emir to mediate in the dialogue they proposed," the source said.
In Enugu, Anyaoku Thursday canvassed the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference to discuss burning issues in the country and asked Northern leaders to put Boko Haram in check.
Anyaoku urged leaders in every capacity in the Northern part of the country “to recognise the agony and anger of relatives of victims of the bombings” by Boko Haram in all parts of the country. 
He recommended that leaders of Northern Nigeria should convene a meeting with the Federal Government to address the challenge posed by Boko Haram to the security and well-being of Nigeria.

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