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Nigerian Mediator Says Leak Means End of Boko Haram Role

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March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Datti Ahmad, head of a Nigerian Islamic organization, terminated his role as a mediator between Boko Haram Islamist insurgents and the government after details of confidential meetings were leaked.

Nigerian newspapers printed “a lot of the details” from a meeting with a government official, Ahmad, president of the Supreme Council for Shariah in Nigeria, said in a statement handed to reporters yesterday in the northern city of Kaduna. “In view of this unfortunate and unhelpful development, we have no option but to withdraw from these early discussions.”

Authorities in Africa’s top oil producer blame Boko Haram, which draws inspiration from Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, for a surge of violence in the north and Abuja, the capital, in which hundreds have died since 2009. The group, whose name means “Western education is a sin,” wants to impose Shariah, or Islamic law, for the 160 million people of Africa’s most populous nation. The group claimed responsibility for multiple blasts and attacks in the city of Kano on Jan. 20 that killed at least 256 people, according to the Civil Rights Congress.

Ahmad said the leak embarrassed mediators and “created strong doubts” about the government’s sincerity because “the discussion is supposed to be very confidential to achieve any success.”

Ahmad’s group came to prominence when it led a campaign against polio immunization from 2004 in the country’s mainly Muslim north, alleging that the vaccines contained sterilization agents and vaccination was part of a Western plot to reduce the Muslim population

Nigeria is roughly split between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south. Boko Haram poses a more serious threat to the country than the 1967-1970 Biafra civil war, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Jan. 8.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gbenga Akingbule in Maiduguri at gakingbule@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net

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