By Kayode Sesan
A new deal is being brokered by some confidants of the Presidency with members of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorist sect, the Nation newspaper is reporting.
With the new deal, hopes of freedom for the 219 Chibok girls may have been rekindled.
Some key commanders of Boko Haram in detention are also eager to be part of the initiative according to reports.
The new understanding came amid security reports that about 500 insurgents in a neighboring country are interested in renouncing terrorism – in line with the reconciliatory agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But the President is being cautious in rushing at the new offer from some leaders of the sect to avoid what a source described as the “costly mistakes of the past administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari has asked security agents to “screen or certify” those spearheading the new negotiation to ensure that the government is dealing with the right Boko Haram leaders.
t was learnt that the President’s reconciliatory agenda made some confidants of the sect to initiate a fresh negotiation between the Presidency and some Boko Haram leaders.
It was gathered that at the preliminary level, a “cautious understanding” has been struck by both parties.
Some mileage gained so far include the following:
- likely release of some Chibok girls to underscore the readiness of Boko Haram for negotiation;
- involvement of some Boko Haram leaders, on whom the United States Government placed ransom, in the peace deal; and
- commitment of the Buhari administration to the negotiation.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President’s appeal for peace in the Northeast is yielding dividends because a fresh facilitation of talks between the Presidency and Boko Haram has started.
“This latest negotiation, which is at the preliminary stage, is being promoted by some mutual confidants of the Presidency and Boko Haram.
“The new deal may lead to the release of some Chibok girls to set the tone for a comprehensive negotiation by both sides.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The President is extremely cautious on this offer of negotiation.
“ Buhari has ordered security agencies to screen or certify those Boko Haram commanders interested in facilitating this latest negotiation to ensure that they are bonafide leaders of the sect.
“The position of the President is that why he is not averse to a peace deal, the Federal Government must avoid the costly mistakes of the past which led to a waste of time and huge resources.
“The President wants the release of the Chibok girls and quick restoration of peace to the Northeast; he is ready to negotiate with the right people for sustainable results.”
But there are strong indications that the leader of the sect, Imam Abubakar Shekau, is yet to be involved in the new deal.
“I think we are still at the preliminary stage. At the right time, there is a way the negotiation offer will be forwarded to their leader.
“But the fact that some Boko Haram commanders, whom US placed ransom upon, might be part of the negotiation shows that the crisis can be resolved, if all hands are on deck, “ another source added.
The defunct Joint Task Force(JTF) in the Northeast on November 23, 2012 placed ransom on 19 leaders of Boko Haram.
The list had comprised five members of the Shurra Committee (the highest making body of the sect) and 14 Boko Haram commanders.