By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor,
ABUJA— Two days after the Federal Government declared two men and a woman wanted in connection with their alleged links with the Boko Haram terrorist group, indications emerged that the three persons could play crucial roles in freeing the remaining Chibok schoolgirls.
A source, who is familiar with the Boko Haram leadership, told Vanguard last night that it was counter-productive for the Nigerian Army to declare Ahmad Salkida, Aisha Wakil and Ahmad Bolori wanted many years after they had been working with the Federal Government to secure freedom for the Chibok girls.
The source, who had been part of previous botched Federal Government bids to secure the release of the Chibok girls and end terrorism in the North-East, described the three persons, now being declared wanted, as “people who are well known by the authorities” as having access to some associates of slain Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf.
Although the source described Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil as “new people in the negotiating process” to free the Chibok girls, Ahmad Salkida was seen as someone very close to the late Mohammed, who is also well respected by his followers.
“None of the service chiefs and heads of security agencies under former President Goodluck Jonathan, except a former Director General of the DSS, can deny knowledge of Salkida and the two other persons now being declared wanted.
“The truth of the matter is that while Office of the National Security Adviser, the service chiefs and the intelligence community met severally and held private discussions with Salkida on how to reach the leadership of Boko Haram, with a view to ending the violence and freeing the girls, the DSS distanced itself from such dialogue and advised Jonathan to ignore them.
“It was the DSS that came with a report that the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, who recently issued a fresh threat to bomb Abuja, had been killed and advised the Presidency to ignore any dialogue with the agents of Shekau.
“It was the disagreement between the DSS and the service chiefs that caused serious confusion for President Jonathan and made him to declare that he gets conflicting security reports from his security chiefs over the Boko Haram issue.
“The same conflict of interest among the President’s inner security caucus led Nigeria to join hands with the Chadian President who announced the appointment of a new ‘Boko Haram leader’ during a meeting attended by Jonathan and Idris Derby in Ndjamena in 2014.
“You will recall that after a top aide of President Jonathan, who is now being prosecuted for huge sums of money wasted in “reaching a ceasefire with Boko Haram leaders” in Chad, the Shekau faction disowned the so-called ceasefire and threatened to cause more attacks, pointing out that Nigerian had been scammed in the name of Boko Haram.”
Asked if the Chibok girls were still alive, the official said there was no doubt that most of the girls were alive and could still be rescued if the Federal Government adopted an open mind in dialoguing with the right people.
He pointed out that the previous government fell into the hands of merchants, who had no idea of where the girls were but merely used their names to receive billions of dollars from the Presidency.
He said that the government should revisit the last negotiation in which the Boko Haram leadership tabled the release of 16 of its top commanders and sympathisers from Nigerian prisons as a condition for the release of the Chibok girls and start from there.
Under the arrangement, the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, was to play the role of a facilitator in the exchange of the Boko Haram commanders for the missing girls and neither the government nor the terrorists were to be involved in the exchange.
The source regretted that the whole issue of the Chibok girls and ending terrorism had been mismanaged by people who saw it as an opportunity to make quick wealth at the expense of the nation and the families of the girls.
“We have to realise that this thing has been mismanaged long ago by people who promoted personal gains above national interest.
It is true that the federal government has decimated Boko Haram to the point that it can no longer hold territories in the country but the point remains that the menace still lingers as long as the girls are still with them and their notoriety gets deeper by the day,” the source said.
“The best the government can do in the circumstance is to get to talk frankly with those declared wanted and be frank enough on how to rescue the girls, who have been trapped for over two years, with some of them dead and others in terrible conditions,” he said.