Nigeria's leader 'prepared' for talks with Boko Haram

President Muhammadu Buhari indicates Nigeria is willing to talk to rebels over kidnapped Chibok girls

Nigeria's leader 'prepared' for talks with Boko Haram

World Bulletin / News Desk

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said Sunday he is ready to secure the release of over 200 abducted schoolgirls by all means possible, including cutting a deal with their Boko Haram captors through neutral negotiators.

“The government which I preside over is prepared to talk to bona fide leaders of Boko Haram,” a statement from his office quoted Buhari as saying.

Although it is not the first time the Nigerian government has offered to talk to the militant group, it is the first time specific details on acceptable go-betweens have been released.

The offer also comes amid a widely reported split within Boko Haram over the group’s leadership.

In April 2014 hundreds of young female students in Chibok, Borno State, were taken captive by Boko Haram, prompting an international outcry.

Buhari added: “If [Boko Haram] do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognized non-governmental organization (NGO), convince them that they are holding the girls and that they want Nigeria to release a number of Boko Haram leaders in detention, which they are supposed to know.

“If they do it through the ‘modified leadership’ of Boko Haram and they talk with an internationally recognized NGO then Nigeria will be prepared to discuss … their release,” Buhari said.

However, the Nigerian leader stated he would not commit resources to “doubtful sources” claiming to have links with the militants or know the whereabouts of the girls.

“We want those girls out and safe. The faster we can recover them and hand them over to their parents, the better for us,” the presidential statement added.

Buhari also acknowledged divisions within the group, claiming the infighting, along with sustained military attacks on their bases, had seen hordes of militants surrendering to the government while territories earlier held by Boko Haram have been liberated.

“The person known in Nigeria as their leader, we understand was edged out and the Nigerian members of Boko Haram started turning themselves to the Nigerian military,” Buhari said.

Buhari also touched on resurgent violence in the oil-rich delta region where other militants’ sabotage of pipelines has cut production and revenue by more than half.

Apparently reacting to statements by the Niger Delta Avengers, the militant group blamed for the bombings, that it would agree to a dialogue the president said the government is also open to discussions.

“We do not believe that they [the militants] have announced a ceasefire. We are trying to understand them more. Who are their leaders and which areas do they operate and other relevant issues,” Buhari added.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Ağustos 2016, 14:18