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Nigeria: Could the Sultan of Sokoto open the door to talks with Boko Haram?

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The Boko Haram movement, which conducts assassinations and bombings primarily in northeastern Nigeria, draws on some northerners’ feelings of political and religious disenfranchisement. These feelings target not only national and state politicians, but also Muslim leaders: Boko Haram has killed rival Muslim clerics, including relatives of the Shehu of Borno, northeastern Nigeria’s preeminent traditional Muslim authority. Yet some Nigerians believe that the Sultan of Sokoto, the traditional Muslim leader with perhaps the greatest influence in the North (and nationwide), can resolve the crisis.

The Sultan has recently spoken out on issues connected to Boko Haram, decrying the use of force by security forces and calling for dialogue with the movement. These gestures may have caught Boko Haram’s attention:

One of the leaders of the Islamic sect…expressed the group’s readiness to enter into peace talks with the Federal Government on condition that people of impeccable character such as the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saád Abubakar, would accept to broker the peace talks. By this pronouncement, the leaders of the sect have made a call.

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