Boko Haram want their leaders released in exchange for Chibok girls

A screengrab taken on May 12, 2014, from
The Chibok Girls were abducted on April 15, 2014

Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram,has offered to free more than 200 Chibok girls kidnapped from school on April 15, 2014 in exchange for the release of its militant leaders held by the govern­ment.

The abduction of the girls from their dormitories at the Chibok school caused outrage around the world with activists blaming the Nigerian government for not doing enough to deal with the militants.

The campaign “Bring Back Our Girls” started trending with people voicing their disgust at the activities of Boko Haram while pushing the government to make efforts to save the girls.

The group made the offer as president Buhari met with the campaigners of the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign.

Revealing this yesterday, a human rights activist, who has been a negotiator for Boko Haram, Fred Eno, told the Associated Press (AP) that Boko Haram’s current offer is limited to the girls from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, whose mass abduction in April 2014 ignited worldwide outrage and a campaign that stretched to other countries.

Negotiator Fred Eno, who was involved in last year’s talks, revealed “another window of opportunity” had opened within the past few days, but he could not disclose details.

Mr Eno said the recent killings of around 350 people over the past nine days by Boko Haram fits with the pattern of increased violence as the Islamists look for a stronger negotiating position.

He said that as President Buhari pursues a necessary military solution, he hopes he also understands the need for negotiation.

Eno said the latest opportu­nity comes through respected Islamic scholars and Muslim elders who were ignored by Jonathan’s people, but now have taken dangerous and courageous steps to engage the insurgents.

He said the recent upsurge in Boko Haram bloodletting, with some 350 people killed in the past nine days, is consis­tent with past ratcheting up of violence, as the militants seek a stronger negotiating posi­tion.

The five-week-old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari offers “a clean slate” to bring the militants back to negotiations which had become poisoned by the different security agencies and their advice to the former president, Mr Eno said.

Boko Haram militants kid­napped the girls as they were preparing to write science ex­ams in the early hours of April 15, 2014. Dozens of the girls escaped from captivity in the first few days, but 219 remain missing.