DAPCHI SCHOOLGIRLS: Confusion over Boko Haram negotiator
As desperate search for the Dapchi schoolgirls, believed to have been captured by Boko Haram continued, yesterday, two sets of people with knowledge of how terrorists operate, differed on the claim by a self-acclaimed female negotiator, Aisha Wakil, that she had been contacted by the terror group on the girls.
An aid worker with an international mission working in the North-East, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard, said it was plausible that the terrorists had actually contacted Wakil given the fact that “she is respected by the group”.
A mediator, who is known to have been part of the negotiations for the release of some of the Chibok girls, however, dismissed Wakil’s claim as attention-seeking.
The aid worker, who declined to be quoted, said Wakil remained a credible source of contact with the group.
According to her, the self—acclaimed negotiator appeared to have earned Boko Haram’s confidence. She said, “I believe that they have made contact with her because those who took the girls are those who are desperately looking for credible persons to negotiate the release of the girls in exchange for cash, which they desperately need to continue to prosecute the war with government.
“Over the years, the guys must have run out of cash and they picked the girls so as to use them as bargaining chip with government for cash”.
The mediator, credited with being part of the negotiations for the release of the two sets of Chibok girls with the Federal Government, in her counter position, dismissed Wakil’s claim as ‘attention-seeking’ and aimed at getting government to recognise her as one who could help find the missing girls.
“I don’t think any Boko Haram element from the Abubakar Shekau faction or the Benawi faction ever called her about the abduction and the location of the victims. I would advise that government just ignores the woman,” the mediator said.
Meanwhile, the Presidency, yesterday, distanced itself from the claim by Wakil, saying only the military and other security agencies could respond to her statement.
Special Adviser on Media to the President, Femi Adesina, told one of our correspondents that the Presidency had no comment to make on Wakil’s claim.
“It is clear therefore that the Boko Haram insurgents are really launching a new and more ferocious phase of offensive against civilians and military with a view to diminishing the gains already made”. The aid worker disclosed further that the claim in certain quarters that there was a major disagreement between the two factions of the Boko Haram insurgents was misplaced as the foot soldiers loyal to Shekau and Benawhi were working together for their common interests.
“It is true that while Shekau is more interested in fighting government to install its form of government in Nigeria, the other faction is made up of people who want pecuniary gains and are ready to kidnap for ransom.
“This may explain why kidnapping of young schoolgirls has become rampant in recent years.
She lamented that the insurgents swooped on the Dapchi Science College and took the girls away in four trucks without any challenge from any security outfit.
“It is possible that the insurgents and the girls are still being holed up within Nigerian territory since they could not have crossed over to any country in those trucks within the few days,” the aid worker said.
Wakil, aka Mama Boko Haram, had, while saying she had been contacted by the Boko Haram faction holding the Dapchi girls, on Friday, said: “They were even the ones that called me, and said `Mama, we heard what you have said’ and told me that they were with the girls and they were going to release them’.
She had continued: “I begged of them and said please let this not be another 1,000-plus days of Chibok girls, and they laughed and said no. I asked them where I can come and stay with them (girls) for two days, but they did not say anything.
“I can assure Nigerians that so far they are with my son Habib and his friends; Habib is a nice guy, he is very nice boy. He will not harm them, he will not touch them, and he will not kill them.
“Our principal was crying” and Fatima doesn’t want to go to school anymore “He is going to listen to us, and so far he indicated interest that he loves peace. And I love them for that and believe what they said on this.
“They will definitely give us the girls. All I am begging Nigerians is to calm down, be prayerful, everything will be over in God grace” .
In a related development, insight into how aid workers and soldiers were slaughtered by rampaging Boko Haram terrorists in the Internally Displaced Persons Camp, IDP, in Rahn, Borno State, was given by the aid worker who spoke to Sunday Vanguard.
The official, who claimed to have been in Borno at the time of the attack, revealed that over 120 Boko Haram fighters overran the military post in the town and killed four soldiers and riot policemen on duty, before making away with their arms and ammunition.
“Sadly, despite clearly identifying themselves as aid workers, the terrorists still shot them dead in their respective apartments”, she said.
Also, yesterday, former President Goodluck Jonathan and erstwhile governor of Kaduna State, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, condemned the spate of killings in the country, particularly the attack that killed international aid workers in Rann.
Jonathan, in a post on his Facebook wall, called for international co-operation in the war against terrorism, noting that an attack on the aid workers is an attack on all nations of the world.
Sandals are strewn in the yard of the Government Girls Science and Technical College staff quarters in Dapchi, Nigeria, on February 22, 2018.
“I condemn the killings of members of staff of the United Nations (UN) and other humanitarian and aid workers in Rann by Boko Haram terrorists. My thoughts and prayers are with the UN and the families of the victims as well as those injured in the dastardly and cowardly attack”, he said.
In a statement signed by his spokesman, Mukhtar Sirajo, Makarfi also offered his condolences to the families of victims of another bomb explosion in Bumi Yadi and Madagali on Saturday stressing that until terrorists are chased out of the nation, the fight against insurgency cannot be said to have been won in the true sense of the word.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps NSCDC equally reportedly deployed hundreds of special forces across schools in the North-East to forestall more kidnappings.. Commandant General of the Corps, Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, disclosed this in a statement signed by his Media Assistant, DCC Soji Alabi.