Nigeria Committee Urges Dialogue with Violent Islamic Sect

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 8:38 pm (UTC-5)
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A government-appointed committee says Nigeria should negotiate with the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, blamed for numerous deadly attacks, including one at the U.N. headquarters in Abuja last month.

The panel's head said the federal government should consider dialogue and negotiation with Boko Haram, on the condition that the group first renounce violence.

He said this dialogue should be followed by a rehabilitation program.

Boko Haram wants a strict form of Islamic law applied more widely across Africa's most populous nation. The group has been blamed for many bombings and shootings aimed at authority figures in northeastern Nigeria and has also claimed responsibility for several high-profile bombings in Abuja.

The government report, presented Monday to Vice-President Namadi Sambo, places some of the blame for the rise in violence on the government. It says government failures to alleviate poverty and unemployment in northern Nigeria, as well as irregularities among security forces, have contributed to dissatisfaction in the region.

The report also recommends greater intelligence sharing with international agencies, increasing spending in northern Nigeria to repair damaged religious buildings, and creating a forum for the president and state and local leaders to discuss security issues.

Vice-President Sambo vowed to implement the report's suggestions as a matter of urgency.