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Published on 26 July, 2013

Leaders disagree as civilians join the fight

Nigeria (MNN) — Cracks are showing in the Boko Haram's theoretical armor as top leaders disagree.

"Shekau speaks his own opinion," Boko Haram deputy leader Muhammad Marwana told Voice of America earlier this week. He's referring to fellow leader Abubakara Imam Shekau's denial of ceasefire agreements with the government.

According to VOA, Marwana also urged Nigerians to reject any of Shekau's statements, especially as they relate to attacks.

"Behind the scenes, Boko Haram is not necessarily a united force where everyone is on the same page," says Todd Nettleton, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs USA. "There are those who say, 'Yes, let's make a deal with the government; let's sign a cease-fire agreement.'

"There are those who say, 'No, we'll fight to the death. We're not going to sign anything; we're not going to give any ground.'"

At the same time, Nigerian civilians are joining the fight against Boko Haram. Vigilantes began taking to the streets in early June, according to the BBC's Will Ross.

Last week, the UN announced Nigeria's plan to withdraw some of its soldiers from a peacekeeping force in Mali. Some 1,200 fighters are supposedly being withdrawn to help fight Boko Haram insurgents in the northern regions.

"It is hard to say what is going to make a difference," notes Nettleton. He says Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan seems to be appealing to both sides of the divided Boko Haram.

One of Jonathan's committees is trying to arrange peace talks with the Boko Haram.

"At the same time, he's declared a state of emergency in the northeastern part of the country. He's sent in additional military troops there to fight Boko Haram, sort of on the frontlines," says Nettleton.

"He seems to be kind of trying both approaches and seeing which one is going to produce the best results."

Nettleton says he isn't sure how to interpret the troop withdrawal from Mali in light of these approaches.

"Is that a sign that he's seeing the military approach as being more productive? We don't know," he states. "He desperately wants to establish some type of structure where there can be peace, where the attacks can stop, and where Boko Haram can participate politically, rather than participating by committing violent acts.

"We'll see if he's able to accomplish that and really make that happen."

Keep praying for Nigeria. Ask the Lord to give President Goodluck Jonathan wisdom in dealing with the Boko Haram.

Over 2,000 people have died since Boko Haram began its campaign of terror four years ago. The Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, recently gave scholarships to 50 children orphaned by Boko Haram attacks.

Present on several fronts in Nigeria, Voice of the Martyrs is also helping children of families who have been attacked by the Boko Haram.

"We sponsor several dozen children to attend a Christian school," Nettleton says. "It's actually a boarding school where they can be educated and trained and prepared to serve the Lord as adults in Nigeria."

Boko Haram–which in the Hausa language means "Western education is sin"–is responsible for several school attacks in northern Nigeria.

"Teachers that teach Western education, we are supposed to kill them in the presence of their students," said Shekau earlier this month in a video message to reporters.

To protect children from this dangerous threat, VOM sends sponsored children to a school in southern Nigeria "where it is a bit safer, where there is a little more structure, and where Christians are more accepted," says Nettleton.

Click here to support Boko Haram orphans through VOM.

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