Posted by News Express | 8 May 2014 | 4,436 times
Boko Haram insurgents who on April 14 abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State in Nigeria’s North-East, are seeking a prisoner swap for jailed comrades, a former mediator with the group has sensationally revealed.
Shehu Sani, who brokered face-to-face peace talks with Boko Haram in 2011, told the British newspaper The Telegraph that he believes that the video in which Boko Haram threatened to sell the girls as “slaves” was proof that they planned to use them as bargaining chips rather than kill them.
The video was released on Monday and featured Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, gloatingly claiming that he would sell the captives “in the market” to anyone wishing to take them as wives.
But while the broadcast appalled the captives’ families and sparked worldwide outrage, Sani told The Telegraph that he sees it as a veiled attempt to reach out for a trade with the Nigerian government.
“If you look at the fact that these girls have already been in captivity for some three weeks, then it is possible to detect a conciliatory tone in this statement from Shekau – he is not saying he is going to kill the girls,” the paper quoted him as saying.
“From my knowledge of the group, to have him saying that he will sell them is proof that this issue can be resolved. The group is most likely to want to attach some kind of conditions to the girls being released, such as the freeing of some of their own prisoners,” Sani, added.
Sani, who is a popular rights activist based in the North-West state of Kaduna, had in 2011 brokered peace talks with Boko Haram in the city of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria, where Bthe group first started up around a decade ago.
The talks, attended by the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, involved face-to-face dialogue with senior militants in the city. The militants insisted that the parties met in the ruins of their former mosque, which had been demolished in an operation by the Nigerian military.
However, the talks failed to win the backing of the Nigerian government, which favoured a “military” solution to the crisis, according to Sani.
•Photo shows Boko Haram leader Ibrahim Shekau.
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