FG Must Parley Now With Boko Haram-Shehu Sanni By TheNEWS

Shehu Sanni
By Femi Adi/Kaduna

Comrade Shehu Sani, Kaduna-based author and activist, tells FEMI ADI how the Boko Haram menace could be ended.

What is your understanding of Boko Haram’s lethal campaign?

Since the Boko Haram insurgency began, people in the country and outside have expressed different views. While some say Boko Haram is a western design to destroy Nigeria, others say the group emerged as a result of poverty and prolonged years of underdevelopment in the northern part of the country. And there are those who say Boko Haram is a product of the northern political establishment, which set it up to fight President Goodluck Jonathan, a southern Christian. Yet, others say Boko Haram started as a tool of the political establishment in the North-east that was later abandoned. Certain people prefer a spiritual explanation, describing the group as the manifestation of an evil spirit. A strand of the analyses holds up Boko Haram as a continuation of the bigotry, extremism and religious intolerance that is common in the North and link the group to al-Qaeda. There are those who believe that Boko Haram’s anger was sparked by the extra-judicial killing of its members in 2009. In the last three years, almost every Nigerian has become a commentator or expert on Boko Haram. But we need to separate the myth from reality. A typical northerner’s understanding of Boko Haram is different from that of a southerner. What many don’t know is that there are many Islamic sects in the northern part of the country. Boko Haram is not even a major sect. But for the fact that it has picked up arms to fight the state, it is better known nationally and internationally. We have the Quadriyya, Tijaniyya, Shi’a, Sunni, Ahmadiyya, Izala and many other sects. I believe that if the same treatment meted out to the Boko Haram leaders had been meted to them, they would have responded in a worse way. For now, it’s good for us to separate the reality from the myth. I have always believed those from the South don’t know the religious and political dynamics of the people of the North and that is why it is easy, if you live in Lagos or Port-Harcourt or in the Diaspora, after you have sipped a hot cup of coffee or orange juice, you conclude your analysis by suggesting that Boko Haram should be crushed by all means. For a Nigerian in Kano, Maiduguri or other northern states, which has witnessed Boko Haram’s terror, the view may be different. And this not because he’s in support of Boko Haram or sympathetic to the sect. It’s different in the sense that the Nigerian security forces have proved incapable of protecting the lives of Nigerians and have also proved incapable of fighting the sect. This confusion is not only limited to the ordinary people, but also to the people in the position of power. Boko Haram started as a non-violent Islamic group and has been campaigning for an Islamic state and proper implementation of Sharia, which they preach and propagate in their mosques and schools. There are hundreds of sects in the North that also engage in such, but the difference is that Boko Haram has picked up arms against the state.

Most people do not understand what the demands of the group are.

Going by their statements, we know that they have been asking for the release of their members from detention. They have also been raising issues about the percieved injustice meted to them in 2009 and nobody did anything about it. There is also the contentious issue of Islamisation of the country. As an insurgent group, it should be obvious to them that not all their demands are achievable no matter the number of people bombed. One thing that is very clear, an Islamised Nigeria cannot happen even if they bomb as many people as they want. But some of their demands can be brought to the table if there is genuine peace parley like the one to which I took former President Obasanjo last September and the one between the federal government and Dr. Datti Ahmed. You could see the emphasis on the release of their wives, children and members who have been in police cells and prisons for a long time. As for me, all I will need is a commitment from the government, with a guarantee from the group that if such demands are met, they will stop what they are doing. But right from the start, there was no effort by anyone to ensure that the demand for release of their members are met.

Is the bombing of innocent people the appropriate way of pressing home their demands?

No. But if a country is faced with these kind of terror attacks, there are measures you can adopt. The first option is the use of force to crush the group before it gets out of hand. If that was working, I would have been the first to support it. But I am living in the North and you are interviewing me here in the North. When I see our security men only protecting their houses, homes and children, when I see security forces sometimes running away after a bomb blast and hiding, I do not think that I can put my trust in them to end terror. If you’re in a city like Kano or Kaduna, you’ll see heavy presence of security men at police stations, commissioners’ homes, military barracks or in areas where top government functionaries are or reside. If these are the people being protected by security agencies, how can an ordinary man who is vulnerable to Boko Haram attack advocate that the use of force is the solution? As I said, if you don’t live within the firing zone, you could air views that do not reflect what is on ground. We can use force if it will end it. But the force used over years has not ended the insurgence. The strategy used by security agents is such that if a bomb goes off in a certain district, everybody living there is punished for it. Is that the kind of force that we should advocate? A guerilla insurgency of this kind comes with a very heavy price. To get at one Boko Haram member, you may end up bringing down more than twenty innocent lives. Killings and violence are not things we can easily swallow as a country.

What do you have to say about the recent attacks on the media?

The simultaneous attacks on ThisDay in Abuja and Kaduna are a condemnable and repressive act. It is an affront to freedom of speech. It is also one act that is most detrimental to whatever cause the group has been fighting because no group fights the media and succeeds. However, I will also make it very clear that the group has a policy of issuing warnings. And if it issued warnings, it behoves on the government to protect such institutions. But it didn’t happen. There were more than twenty of such threats to the media before the attacks. They had said if the media remains subjective, they would hit them. I expect a responsible government to have taken it seriously and provided protection for the media houses before the unfortunate attacks. But the people they are protecting are the members of their families. The government can protect police stations, government agencies, but not media houses. And I believe that it is the government that has the responsibility to maintain law and order, keep peace and protect people from terror attacks. It is annoying that the only thing you hear after any bomb attack is condemnation. The Senate, House of Representatives and Presidency will condemn it, but nothing will be done until another person is attacked. Condemnation is good, but I believe in a proactive engagement with the group in the interest of peace. When you have a dysfunctional government, we are not secure as a people. One thing that the Boko Haram has been able to expose is the inability of government to provide security for its citizens. It has also exposed the long years of weakness, corruption and neglect of the Nigerian state. What matters most to those in government is political power and acquisition of wealth.

What solution would you suggest, given the potency of Boko Haram’s threat to the progress of the North and corporate existence of the country?

Three things. The first is to reach out to Dr. Datti Ahmed for talks since members of the group trust him as one who could mediate between the sect and federal government. Religious and political leaders should also reach out to him for rounds of talks in order to get a lasting ceasefire. The second thing we should do is to look for the leaders of different Islamic sects in the North to come together and directly reach out to Boko Haram as a group. All should come together and offer guarantees and reach out directly to Boko Haram. The third option is the use of force. But, as I said, it comes with a lot of consequences. Most of the meetings over the insecurity in the North are held far away from the action spot. I want to make my mark and contribute to finding a solution to the problem of Boko Haram.

Why did talks between the government and Dr. Datti break down?

Two reasons. The first one was that the talks were meant to be confidential and the outcome made to public later, but government betrayed the agreement for secrecy. Secondly, the talks were supposed to be productive in terms of ensuring that both sides hold on to the commitments. But right from the beginning, some elements within the Jonathan administration made sure that every detail of the discussion was leaked to the public. Also, there seems to be a sense of unwillingness on side of government to give in to the demands of the sect for release of its members and guarantee their security. If I was in government, I would divide Boko Haram detainees into three. The first would be the high profile targets,who are their leaders in prisons. The second would be the foot soldiers and the third category would be their wives and children and innocent people arrested on the streets in the name of Boko Haram. As a responsible government you can, as a kind gesture, release the lowest category and see what the group will do. But when nothing is done, it becomes a serious problem. All that is done now is to wait for a bomb and condemn the act. This is quite unfortunate and retrogressive.


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Why did Boko Haram not Capitalize on the pro govt procession held in Abuja today? They will not bceause the money paid to the protesters can never be enough to generate the kind of passionate crowd the anti corruption protest will generate. The govt is also not real and honest about fighting corruption.

shehu you lack what to say.

Shehu Ỹ̷̬̩̊Ơ̴̴͡u̶̲̥̅̊ lack what to say.may be you are seeking for a national appointment. I wonder why people like you should be allowed to come up to talk rubbish. Do you think everybody in Nigeria has a low sense of reasoning like you? Why must FG dialogue with boko-haram? On what ground?you talked abt fG having a secret talk with the leaders of each terrorist group, are they God to be consulted for peace?Boko haram be defeat only by God and no man will share the glory.

When I hear that xtians are

When I hear that xtians are fools n stupid people I don't realy get untill a room like this where they like to flaunt their folly

God purnish Shehu Sani

God should purnish Shehu Sani and his fellow cultprit Islam will never govern over us again.

Nigerians what have you

Nigerians what have you contributed to bring peace in this country that you are here condemning someone's opinion? When the Government of Yaradua parley with Naija Delta people did it work or not? t least it did to an extent. Why don't we give it a try and see if it work by granting some of their wishes like building there mosque and houses that were destroyed. The issue of Islamising the country will never be possible. infact not even in the dream. We should give dialogue a chance since the security personnel are busy protecting the rich only.







It is good to read the brief

It is good to read the brief interview about him.
Kratom Capsule

Shehu Sunni has spoken the

Shehu Sunni has spoken the truth, either we like it or not, but the sect should pls consider the innocent one that are directly affected moreover the unity of this country is a stake. God bless the peace loving people.

Sanni's misplaced tactics

You don't negotiate with terrorists.negotiating with a terrorist is a quick fix and palliative measure which would be counter productive at the slightest provocation.The Presidency should stop being timid and coward.Go after their sponsors,their identity(sponsors)is in the public domain but if in doubt ask the former N.S.A.

Shehu Sani, a good thinker

Shehu Sani you' re right ,if to say Nigeria would have people like you any sort of terror activities would be resolved,continue your research on national dispute resolution may almighty Allah grant you success throughout your future indevous amin.

Shehu Sani, a good thinker

Shehu Sani you' re right ,if to say Nigeria would have people like you any sort of terror activities would be resolved,continue your research on national dispute resolution may almighty Allah grant you success throughout your future indevous amin.

When people say that Boko

When people say that Boko Haram is collaborators and sponsors among the Muslims in the North there would be a refusal from the North. Sheu Sanni and Datti are parts of Boko Haram and they should be investigated by the security agents. How could you suggest that Government should dialogue with Boko Haram? Then maybe we should also call Armed Robbers, Rapist Thieves who steal National wealth and all their likes should be invited for a dialogues as well.
This Islamic Terrorist called Boko Haram would continue till Jonathan has the will to use full wrath of the law against them. But Jonathan is too scared to take right steps. Imagine, he removed Azasi a known Babangida loyalist and replaced him with another Babangida boys. Jonathan is one of the stumbling blocks for peace because he would not use the power conferred on him by the Nigerian State to make decisive action to end Boko Haram.

Who&whre d evil is?

Evil ppls r does found suspect of suicid bomb balst in KD, JOS, TRB. & found distribtin of guns/amination within d country. E.g a human cought by NAF in NUMAN LG with guns/bullets inside garin kwaki. Nd u nid 2 ask urself which groud does dis ppls blong to.

The arrogant and unfaithful Nigerian Christians

@musa, ur stupid, fool, barbaric, bagavond, flibbertiggebet who lacks common gumption to ponder over issues. I am sure ur a xtristian bcos u ur father is a xrtian. When did ur god Jesus (son of man) ever abuse someone? U claime 2 follow him! Ur lying. Ur 100% away from Jesus. Ur rotten soul will be tormented in the hell. All ur decendants are Boko haram!

Parley Parley

May be you should start advising the FG to start parleying with the armed robbers, assasins, and what have you of this country.

You are right, sheu

Eh! the level of ignorance in Nigeria is unimaginable. And I believe,Gov't has to do a lot to educate and re-orientate the public.Many Nigerians lack critical thinking.You can't appreciate an intelligent idea if you are below average.Intellectuals are always realistic and not emotional.Sheu Sani is an intellectual and we can find solution to this crisis relying on his analysis.May be some people are not aware,even wars that have claimed millions of people are resolved with a roundtable discussion.I have learnt a lesson from this site, both christians and muslims are intolerant of each other. we have to change,it won't take us anywhere.

U re indeed a foolish son of

U re indeed a foolish son of a stupid fada i schooled in university of ilorin too most of the cultist in ilorin re known christain today i practice medicine in edo state the rapist kidnappers robbers cultist in edo state re known christains so stop disgracing ur self showin ur ignorance to the world


God will punish you and your generation.
You are alos a boko haram because boko haram is not just as it implies but they are jihadist in the name of islam fighting for the instilling of islam all over Nigeria by force.
God will punish all of you who feel islam is the true religion in all your blindness and deafness.
God will punish you and he has started initiating it by punishing you through impoverishment that you are promoting yourself.
Nonsense evil people called muslims

U dis fool dat say hw many

U dis fool dat say hw many xristian hv der kill nd calin 4 dialog.den hw many muslims r in d prson nd hw many r been killd

This Shehu man is a fool! He

This Shehu man is a fool! He wants the Federal Govt of Nigeria to dialogue with a group of demented terrorists who have been killing Christains, bombing churches and maiming innocent people?

Let him go and tell his Northern elders to dialogue with the infidel group!


May God forgive you

It surprise me when well learned people like you openly say such.
The blood of the innocent slained in worship places, homes and place of work will call for judgement, whosoever have grudges against the Govt should face the Govt, the cowards hurt innocent people on the street just to press home their demands? Its a beastly act, what form of negotiations or pally do you propose for such animals, who in Gods name commit such erroneous act against humanity. If truly they are suicide bombers like they claim and they have issues with the Govt why not drive your charriot of bomb into Aso rock, or target the senators and Governors. You knw where they live, worst case scenario you will be gunned down attempting to do so which is not a big deal because your plan is to die anyway.
Redirect your steps and pray God forgive you and if you still insist on your bloodthirsty mission target the right people

pls, when saying things in

pls, when saying things in public makasure u hav tangible fact. if U dont know what hapens in Kano? hw many no of Muslim were kill? hw many no of non hav hav been cought trying 2 bomb a church? pls my frnd dont talk any hw in public. look for fact. hav a nice day

Boko Haram shall be rooted out by God

My beloved president,wake up and act.It is time,If you don't know how.Ask the elders.Obasanjo is still alive.Where are the past presidents that wanted to be re-elected?Are you only interested in being president or you have interest of this country at hand. Lets all join hands and root out Boko Haram.The problem of this country is not PDP.Lets de-emphasise party merging and merge our ideas to root out the evil- Boko Haram.Lets merge our ideas to root out corruption.
By the grace of God the prayer of the saints and
the cry of the matyred will be heard and answered.


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Lets be objective & rational pls.

Kai ka fara da kyau bt u leta spoiled ur dance wit a monkey jump.it is an evident fact dt d sponsors of "bh" sect r some northern political leaders (may b yet 2b kmwn). Shehu sanni i believe is just givin a suggestion dt could work,its nw left 4 d govt 2 eida try dt or nt,sinz dia method has not worked yet.it is foolishness 2me dt some r here tru dis medium xchangin words 4 nothin. Nothin provocative u say can change anythin,it wuld hv been beta u prayed dt God should do something-doh i bliv,its sign of end tyms. Amongs dos killed by bombings or guns r christians (both igbos & many oda tribes includin d hausas) & muslims (both hausas n many oda tribes). D essence of all dis by dos wishin 2 divide us is being achieved wit d kind of provocation & antagonism displayed by u guys.lets continue 2 pray,nobody is above d creator even if dey think dey r above nigeria. D day of judgement is coming 4 dem & its soon.

Can you give examples of successful negotiation with jihadists

People who suggest negotiating with islamic Jihadists are doing so either out of ignorance or are part of the Jihadist's agenda. There are too many jihadists' activities in the world. killing is their religious obligation; to kill infidels and inherit virgins in Heaven. This is indoctrination from when these guys were kids. Many Northern muslims think like that even if they are not saying it, else how can a person that threw bomb into a market disappear inside the market when security forces were pursuing him; he was covered! Assume for a moment if Governors, locals, opinion leaders, Government agencies, etc. are quietly in support of Jihad? All Muslims are potential terorists. I schooled in University of Ilorin with very fewer muslims and yet in my 4 year stay, Muslims caused major troubles several times without being provoked, then you would see Muslim friends, room-mates, class-mates known for some years to be gentle and tolerant with weapons shouting Allah-u-akba round campus!

Between the Myth and Reality

The hopeless spiral of Boko Haram insurgency is a critical approval to the hitherto calls for the National, Sovereign conference, or whatever name you like. It is a wake up call to the likes of Shehu Sani whose name rings a bell in the comity of civil society and who toke critical part in the throes of democratic struggle. The civil society organs should again come together to save our beloved nation from disintegrating and from an endangered precipice.

Between the Myth and Reality

The hopeless spiral of Boko Haram insurgency is a critical approval to the hitherto calls for National, Sovereign conference, or whatever name you like. It is a wake-up call to the likes of Shehu Sani whose name rings a bell in the comity of civil society and who toke part in the throes of democratic struggle.The civil society organs should again come together to save our beloved nation from disintegration and from an endangered precipice.