GIST OF THE DAY:Nigeria agrees to truce with Boko Haram Islamists

Nigeria has agreed to a ceasefire with Islamist
group Boko Haram after talks with the Islamist
group's deputy leader, Mohammed Marwan, the
government said.
The agreement has the support of Boko Haram
leader Abubakar Shekau, said Minister of
Special Duties Kabiru Turaki, chairman of a
presidential committee set up to negotiate with
the group.
A pledge in January by a self-proclaimed Boko
Haram spokesman, Abu Mohammed Ibn
Abdulaziz, that the group agreed to lay down
its arms didn't halt the violence.
"There were mediations in the beginning, but at
the end of the day we spoke face to face," Mr
Turaki said.
The ceasefire, which came into effect this week,
is "a result of a painstaking series of
discussions and meetings we've had with them."
Talks about signing a public agreement are still
under way, he said.
Boko Haram, whose name means "Western
education is a sin" in the Hausa language, has
killed thousands of people in gun and bomb
attacks since 2009 in the mainly Muslim north
and Abuja in its campaign to establish an
Islamic state in Africa's largest oil producer.
Nigeria's more than 160 million people are
roughly split between Christians, predominant
in the south, and Muslims, mostly in the north.
"Such an announcement of cessation of violence
needs to come from the leader of Boko Haram
himself," Clement Nwankwo, executive director of
the Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy
Centre, said, referring to Shekau. "I think that
would be much more credible than a statement
by a government official."
The military of Africa's largest oil producer
began an air and ground offensive against Boko
Haram on May 16, two days after President
Goodluck Jonathan imposed emergency rule in
the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and
Adamawa to step up the fight against Islamist
militants. The insurgents were taking over parts
of Borno state, according to Mr Jonathan.
Mr Turaki said the agreement came after the
government began freeing suspects linked to
the group as a "good faith" gesture. The release
of Boko Haram's detainees has been one of the
group's main demands.
The ceasefire came into effect two days after 20
students and a teacher were killed in an attack
on a secondary school in the northeastern state
of Yobe. Eli Lazarus, a spokesman for the joint
military and police taskforce in Yobe, said the
attack was probably carried out by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, said in
April that the group wouldn't accept a
government amnesty.
A spokesman for the group who gave his name
as Abu Zinnira said on June 18 that the
militants would continue attacking young
people who co-operate with the security
agencies in the fight against the group.

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