Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Former Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo may be seeking to initiate peace talks between the federal government and the Islamic sect Boko Haram, which has claimed responsibility for the spate of bombings in the country in recent times, the private Nation newspaper reported Friday.
The paper said Obasanjo met with the family of the slain leader of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, Thursday in the northern city of Maiduguri, the base of the violent sect.
It is believed that the meeting, which lasted for one-and-a-half hours behind closed doors, was largely exploratory and aimed at initiating formal talks between the government and the sect.
The paper quoted an unnamed source as saying Obasanjo told Yusuf's family members: "This is a personal initiative. I urge you to forgive and forget the past. I plead with you to give me the chance to mediate between the family and the government."
The brother-in-law of the slain Boko Haram leader, Babakura Fuggu,, reportedly said: "Since 2009, this is the first time any high-profile figure has commiserated with the family. We are happy with this visit.''
The Nation quoted a top government source as saying: "The government is ready for talks with Boko Haram, like it did in the Niger Delta. The ex-President has decided to avail the government of his experience in peace-keeping operations. He believes dialogue could save the nation from bomb explosions. You should expect more follow-up talks with the Boko Haram sect. After all, after returning from the battle front, we go back to the peace table."
Among the sect's grievances is the summary execution of Yusuf, who was captured alive by soldiers and handed over to the police, who executed him.
-0- PANA SEG 16Sept2011