Nigeria mulls intermediary to free Chibok girls
LAGOS — Nigeria would let Boko Haram choose a non-profit organization as an intermediary in any talks on the release of about 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeastern village of Chibok in 2014, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday.
Buhari first said last year that his government was ready to negotiate with Islamist militants Boko Haram over the girls, but the group has not commented on the proposal.
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.
Any negotiations would be the first publicly known talks between the government and Boko Haram, whose seven-year insurgency to create an Islamic state in the northeast has killed 15,000 people.
“The government which I preside over is prepared to talk to bona fide leaders of Boko Haram,” Buhari told reporters at a conference on African development in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, in comments later issued in an official statement.
“If they do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognized non-governmental organization (NGO),” he said.
Buhari said Boko Haram could begin negotiations on a prisoner swap if they could provide evidence to the NGO that they had the girls.
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. — Reuters