Nigeria

Is dialogue with terrorists necessary?

Dialogue is always better than using weapons, says Nigerian Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja
Lucie Sarr 

Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, in this file photo. 

Two Kenyan universities, Tangaza University and Umma University, Catholic and Muslim respectively, organized a Christian-Muslim Engagement Forum for social transformation in Africa.

During the Forum on April 11-12, Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja said dialogue with terrorists could be an alternative possibility, given the failure of numerous other efforts used to combat the scourge of terrorism affecting so many African countries.

According to the Cardinal Onaiyekan, dialogue with terrorists is necessary for the resolution of conflicts in Africa, even if this means negotiating with murderers.

“I believe that, no matter what an individual’s extreme position may be, there are people who can speak to him and instigate a discussion. This is always better than using weapons,” he said during the conference on social transformations in Africa, which brought together religious leaders from Africa, Europe and Asia.

Cardinal Onaiyekan also believes that Muslim leaders have a central role to play in Nigeria in bringing members of the terrorist group Boko Haram to the negotiation table.

As these leaders have the Muslim faith in common with Boko Haram, he said that they are best suited to engage in discussion with Boko Haram, even though this group’s interpretation of Islam is an extremist one.

Cardinal Onaiyekan has expressed this opinion before, in May 2017 after the liberation of 87 of the 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, in the northeast of Nigeria, in 2014.

“Throughout these years, I regularly and emphatically pleaded with the government to get involved in order for these girls to be freed,” said Cardinal Onaiyekan.

“However, the government always responded by saying that they would not negotiate with terrorists and exchange prisoners for the abducted girls. But this is exactly what happened in the end.”

Opinion is somewhat more guarded when it comes to the opportunity to engage in dialogue with terrorists.

“We cannot negotiate with terrorists as long as they continue to resort to violence to achieve their aims,” said Richard Tutah, the Kenyan consultant for Internal Security and expert in the struggle against terrorism, who participated in the Nairobi conference.

According to Tutah, “the only time when we can negotiate with them in terms of combatting terrorism, is when they become abductors.”

Source :  la-croix

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