Both religious and political forces are driving the insurgency by the extremist Islamist sect, Boko Haram, that has killed hundreds of people in Nigeria, says Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, in an interview with Reuters in Pretoria, South Africa.

He accused “power-hungry politicians from the North of using indoctrinated young militants, drawn from the ranks of the poor unemployed and educated in Islamic schools” as foot soldiers in a battle over who should control the country.

Soyinka spoke to Reuters after delivering a lecture at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

“Those who unleashed Boko Haram on the nation are politicians. These are the ones behind Boko Haram. Unfortunately, one has to point to what section they come from, and that is the North. This minority is very focused, very powerful, very rich. They used to be in government; they’ve accumulated billions; they are the ones who unleashed this monster on the nation. They have articulated their conviction that it is their turn to rule Nigeria,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has refuted reports that the Boko Haram sect had sent a letter to some influential people in Sokoto State, including himself, seeking their intervention for the release of some of the members of the sect being detained by the authorities in the state.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Imam Imam, Tambuwal said neither himself, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar, nor the Acting Governor of Sokoto State received the purported letter or know the identities of those that claimed to have sent it.

“We are yet to receive any letter from the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’ati wal Jihad, aka Boko Haram and we are not aware of the alleged arrest and detention of any of their members. Importantly, we are yet to ascertain which of their members are behind bars and which security agency arrested them.”

The Speaker, however, challenged the Boko Haram leadership to reveal their identity and the identity of any of their members arrested in Sokoto State in order for them to intervene and resolve the matter amicably without resorting to bloodshed and destruction of property.

He said that along with the Sultan, the acting governor he was ever ready to intervene in the matter in the spirit of dialogue as canvassed by President Goodluck Jonathan, and called on the sect to reveal their identities for the process of dialogue to commence.

Tambuwal charged the Boko Haram sect to shun acts of violence in expressing their grievances, and advised them to capitalize on the initiative of the President to enter into dialogue with it, and restore the country to path of peace and security.