Nigeria’s Buhari renews talks offer to Boko Haram

Any negotiations would be the first publicly known talks between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency to create a state in the country’s northeast has killed 15,000 people.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari attends a meeting during the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) conference in August 28, 2016 Nairobi.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday renewed his offer for talks with Boko Haram to secure the release of 218 Chibok girls captured by the militant group in 2014.

Last year, Buhari had said that his government was ready to negotiate with the group but the militant outfit did not respond to the proposal.

"The government which I preside over is prepared to talk to bona fide leaders of Boko Haram," Nigerian president told reporters at a conference on African development in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

Any negotiations would be the first publicly known talks between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency to create a state in the country’s northeast has killed 15,000 people.

"We want those girls out and safe. The faster we can recover them and hand them over to their parents, the better for us," he said.

Nigeria's failure to find the kidnapped children prompted an outcry at home and abroad. Critics of Buhari's predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, said his government was too slow to act.

Around 270 girls were taken from their school in the village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria in April 2014. Dozens escaped in the initial melee, but more than 200 are still missing.


A parent of one of the abducted Chibok school girls cries after the police prevented the parents access to see President Muhammadu Buhari during a rally in Abuja, Nigeria August 25, 2016. 

Top Boko Haram leader ‘wounded’

President Buhari also confirmed that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was "wounded." His comments came days after the Nigerian military claimed, earlier this week, that the group’s leader was injured in an attack.

Nigeria's armed forces said on Tuesday that Shekau had been wounded in an air strike on Boko Haram's forest stronghold, but released no further statement or evidence confirming his condition.


A man purporting to be Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau speaks in this still frame taken from social media video courtesy of SITE Intel Group, released on August 10, 2016, in an unknown location. 

"We learnt that in an air strike by the Nigeria Air Force he was wounded," Buhari said.

"Indeed their top hierarchy and lower cadre have a problem," he added.

Nigerian president said that Shekau had been "edged out" of the group, adding credence to claims that DAESH-appointed Abu Musab al Barnawi was now in charge of the insurgency.

Signs of a power struggle in the top echelons of the militant group appeared earlier this month when Shekau released a video denying he had been ousted.

Barnawi is believed to be the 22-year-old son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf and was announced as the group's leader in August by DAESH terror organisation.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies