ABUJA - An offer by the militant group Boko Haram for dialogue with the government is sparking optimism among the Muslim community in Nigeria to end years of violence in their country.
We welcome the fresh attempt by the sect to dialogue with the government, Dr. Abdurrahman Ahmad, a leading Muslim scholar, told OnIslam.net.
This is in the interest of peace.
The militant group Boko Haram has said earlier this week that it was ready to engage in dialogue with the government to end violence in Nigeria.
The group's leader Mohammed Marwan told the Hausa Service of the Voice of America that the release of French hostages signaled the group's readiness to dialogue.
One should heave a sigh of relief if the sect indeed is ready to dialogue with the government of Nigeria in a bid to bring lasting peace to the country especially the violent-prone Northern region.
The Nigerian government has not yet commented on offer.
However, media reporters were being circulated that the government is preparing an amnesty package for the sect to help regain calm to the country.
Violence brings no good and our brothers and sisters in the North are most interested in anything and everything that will end the constant and real threat to their lives and properties.
Boko Haram, a Hausa term meaning "Western education is sinful", is loosely modeled on Afghanistan's Taliban.
The militant group says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
It has been blamed for a campaign of shootings and bombings against security forces and authorities in the north since 2009.
But recently, the sect has carried out attacks against Christians.
Muslim leaders have voiced hope that dialogue will lead to establish peace in the major African country.
While the sect's violent activities run afoul of Islamic principles, we commend its latest intention to dialogue with the government because that will bring the much-sought peace, pro. Ishaq Akintola of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) told OnIslam.net.
Akintola, who teaches Islamic studies at the Lagos State University, said the sect's acceptance of dialogue is long overdue because only dialogue and peaceful conducts are consistent with Islamic tenets.
The initial resort to violence in pursuit of its objectives was un-Islamic.
Almuhminaat,an umbrella group of Muslim women across Nigeria, also praised the dialogue offer.
We are glad at this news and we pray Allah to let it work as planned, the group's president Mutiah Jumoh-Olagunju told OnIslam.net.
Also, we urge all the parties involved to shun all activities and comment capable of truncating this latest peace initiative.
Despite the optimism, worries are growing high about the success of the dialogue between the militant group and the government.
The worry now is if this latest hostility would not force Boko Haram to cancel its earlier acceptance of dialogue, Kamor Disu of the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) told OnIslam.net.
At least 185 people were reportedly killed by security forces and hundreds of houses were razed in the village of Baga in Borno state earlier this month.
The killings have sparked outrage nationwide, forcing the government to launch an investigation into the massacre in which women and minors were said to be the worst hit.
Nigerian troops have denied torching off the new hostility, contrary to claims by residents, who blame the troops for launching a pre-emptive attack on the sect.
With everybody condemning the way the Nigerian troops have behaved in Baga, one is tempted to say that the government needs to re-examine its sincerity and commitment to dialogue, Disu said.
I found it painful that this is coming at a time everybody is heaving a sigh of relief, particularly after the sect appeared to have bought into the many plea for suspension of hostility.
Dr. Badrudeen Salako, a university lecturer, agrees.
If this is coming a few days after the sect accepted dialogue with the government and with no conflicting statement from its acclaimed leader, then it is time we start asking the government to state its intention.
The behavior of the Joint Task Force (JTF) is most condemnable, said the academic, who lectures at the country's prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG).
Dr Joe Okei Odumakin, a leading democracy activist, urged the government to investigate the latest hostility in Baga and make its findings public.I urge the sect not to go back on its pledge to dialogue with the government, if only in the interest of the helpless citizens who are often caught in the fray.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net