Until Boko Haram’s latest video that paraded some 50 Chibok schoolgirls, the Nigerian government, through its several channels, had given the impression that the sect had been decimated and that they were mainly scampering for safety.
The Federal Government through its spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had repeatedly boasted that Boko Haram machinery was effeminate, been invalidated by the superior firepower of the Nigerian military. The Minister of Information is known to constantly thrill pensive but largely docile and unbelieving audiences that the sect are solely now concern with targeting soft and feeble targets.
Though the federal government kept promising to rescue the Chibok schoolgirls, some had claimed that they were no longer in Sambisa Forest and may have been dispersed and married off across the West African sub-region. Even the CNN video that insisted that the girls were still in Sambisa Forest was taken with a measure of suspicion and even out rightly dismissed by pessimists.
Then, came the seemingly division in the ranks of the faith-based militants and the verbal altercations subsequently, frightening hate-based sermons preached by the leadership of the breakaway group.
Like leech, the federal government had latched on the differences to further lay claim to decimating the sect and the military even responded that soon a political decision would have to be made on whether to negotiate with the main sect, while they sustain its bombardment of Sambisa Forest in the quest to completely oust the terror group.
But last weekend, the main group supposedly still being led by Abubakar Shekau, responded with certain venom- the parade of some 50 Chibok schoolgirls, some of which were identified by their parents- to emphasis the fact they are the authentic group, and in charge of the command structure of Boko Haram.
Following the emergence of the video, Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, in his usual fashion played down on the seriousness of the matter by claiming that the federal government was “on top of the situation”.
Perhaps to douse obvious palpable tension in the land, the government attempted to calm fray nerves by declaring three persons whom the army claims have useful connection with Boko Haram and that the information they hope to get would be crucial in their quest to finally crushed the sect.
However, Friday Magazine learnt the decision to declare three persons wanted was merely diversionary and to buy time by creating the impression that it was working hard to cut-off and crush the sect.
Those the army have added in their growing list of wanted persons in connection with Boko Haram are Aisha Wakil, a lawyer, Ahmed Salkida, a journalist, and one Ahmed Umar Bolori, an activist.
Nigerian Army insisted that it declared the trio wanted because they failed to give the military detailed information on the operation of Boko Haram terrorists.
The Army claimed that the wanted persons have been evasive, wants everything from the government on their terms. It implies the trio are not patriotic and allegedly working against national interest.
Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, explained to defence correspondents on whatsapp group chat that government’s decision was sequel to careful consideration of the activities of the trio in connection with the matter.
“We have taken note of contributions and the efforts of others at different fora on the same subject matter. Please note that Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil failed to give us more details. They were evasive. They wanted everything on their terms.
“Now it’s going to be on our terms. We are determined. They must cooperate. We have cleared most the BHT hideouts, though few are remaining. Our target is the remaining camps that are not accessible during the rains. They must mention their BHT contacts and their locations.
“It’s strategic to engage the alleged BHT negotiators so as to weaken their propaganda base. We cannot continue to drag this war any further. The military approach should be devoid of rhetorical postulation. We want actionable information for planning and execution of our operations”, Col. Usman explained. However, in a swift reaction, one of the alleged wanted persons, Bolori, who was allegedly approached by Boko Haram in a failed recruitment attempt, believes the army is trying to distract attention from the latest Chibok video.
“In the video, one of the girls said the army had killed many of their fellows. So the army now wants to clear its name and that’s why they are trying to frame us and divert international attention from the problem,” he told IBTimes UK. Bolori alleged that the military offensive against the insurgents has resulted in the death of innocent civilians who are being held hostage by the group. “Bombs cannot differentiate between insurgents and innocent people. If the army and Boko Haram really want to fight, let them go and fight, but this cannot be at the expense of innocent people. This is what we have been calling for – we had several meetings with the army but at the end it didn’t work because they army showed very little interest,” Bolori said and added that he did not know the whereabouts of the Chibok girls and Boko Haram. “I tried to link Mama Boko Haram with the current army administration and the army should listen to us. All we have been asking for is peace. It is not just about the Chibok girls, but all of the people who have been abducted and the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in IDP camps, with no food, “he continued.
In a similar vein, Aisha Wakil in a chat with IBTimes UK, dismissed the army’s decision to declare her wanted stressing that they know where to find her if indeed they had wanted to get whatever information about the sect from her.
“How can they declare me wanted when they know me very well and they know my house? Wanted for what? If they think I have information on the Chibok girls, why did they not come and ask me? Now that they declared me wanted, did any information on the Chibok girls come out?” Wakil told IBTimes UK during a phone conversation from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
Wakil is known to locals in north-eastern Nigeria – the epicentre of Boko Haram’s insurgency – as “Mama Boko Haram” due to her connection with the group. She advocates for dialogue rather than the use of military force to defeat the insurgents and was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan as part of a team to trace the 300 Chibok girls after the abduction.
Wakil was also part of a Boko Haram Amnesty Committee, established in 2013. The year before, she and her husband had been nominated by a Boko Haram “representative” to negotiate a peace deal on behalf of the group.
“I have been in this, trying to bring peace between the government and Boko Haram, for the past seven years. I am known to the media, I am known to Nigeria, I have had meetings with them [the army] and told them what the boys [Boko Haram] are saying they want them to do so that this ends. They should know that I am a good asset to end this problem,” Wakil said.
“The boys told me that the girls are alive and I believe them, the boys don’t lie. These boys are our kids from the north-east. I know them, we all grew up there, I know many of them who started this,” she continued.
“But the army believes they can do things by themselves, by bombing people, but this is not the right way. All I want is peace in my country. They should meet us instead of declaring us wanted.”
Going by the statements of the duo, it is obvious the army has had some relation with them but were not satisfied with what they got and may have thought that making public its discussion with them and directly accusing them of withholding information would generate some sympathy for them (army) and boost the federal government’s loud-mouthed boast that it has decimated the sect and is on the verge of completely crushing them. Only time will tell.

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