Abuja – President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the preparedness of the Federal Government to discuss the release of Chibok girls with the Boko Haram insurgents, who abducted them in 2014.
A statement issued in Abuja on Sunday by Malam Garba Shehu, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said that Buhari made the reaffirmation in an interview with journalists in Nairobi, Kenya.
The president spoke to the newsmen at the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI).
He said that the Nigerian government had since expressed its readiness to dialogue with bonafide leaders of the terror group, who knew the whereabouts of the girls.
‘‘I have made a couple of comments on the Chibok girls and it seems to me that much of it has been politicised.
“What we said is that the government which I preside over is prepared to talk to bonafide leaders of Boko Haram.
“If they do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognised Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO).
“They should convince the organisation that they are holding the girls, and that they want Nigeria to release a number of Boko Haram leaders in detention, who they are supposed to know.
“If they do it through the ‘modified leadership’ of Boko Haram and they talk with an internationally recognised NGO, then Nigeria will be prepared to discuss for their release,’’ he said.
The president warned that the Federal Government would not waste time and resources with “doubtful sources’’ claiming to 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.’’
He maintained that the terror group, which pledged allegiance to ISIS, had been largely decimated by the gallant Nigerian military with the support of immediate neighbours of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin.
“Some of the information about the division in Boko Haram is already in the press and I have read in the papers about the conflict in their leadership.
“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.
“We learnt that in an air strike by the Nigeria Air Force he was wounded.
“Indeed, their top hierarchy and lower cadre have a problem and we know this because when we came into power, they were holding 14 out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria.
“But now they are not holding any territory and they have split to small groups attacking soft targets,’’ he said.
On the militancy in the Niger Delta, Buhari expressed the government’s readiness for dialogue to resolve all contending issues in the area.
“We do not believe that they (militants) have announced ceasefire. We are trying to understand them more. Who are their leaders and which areas do they operate and other relevant issues,’’ he said. (NAN)