Friday, 23 September 2016

Chibok girls: Nigeria's Buhari calls for UN mediation

Nigeria's president has called for the UN to
mediate with militant Islamist group Boko
Haram to secure the release of schoolgirls it is
holding captive.

Muhammadu Buhari said he was prepared to
swap militants who are in custody for the girls.
The more than 200 girls were seized during a
raid on a school in the north-eastern town of
Chibok in 2014.
Previous efforts by neighbouring Chad to broker
a deal with Boko Haram to secure the girls'
release failed.
BBC Africa Live: For more on this and other
stories
Nigeria's divided militants
'She is my daughter'
Speaking on the sidelines of the annual UN
General Assembly meeting in New York, Mr
Buhari said that splits within the ranks of Boko
Haram, which is affiliated to the Islamic State
(IS) group, made it difficult to hold talks with
them.
"Government had reached out, ready to
negotiate, but it became difficult to identify
credible leaders. We will welcome intermediaries
such as UN outfits, to step in," Mr Buhari said.
The UN has not yet commented on his request.
In August, IS said that Boko Haram leader
Abubakar Shekau had been replaced by the
younger Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
Mr Shekau denied this, insisting he was still the
leader.
The abduction of the schoolgirls led to the
#BringBackOurGirls campaign, that was
supported by US First Lady Michelle Obama and
Pakistani Nobel Peace laureate Malala
Yousafzai.
So far only one schoolgirl, Amina Ali Nkeki, has
been found.
An army-backed vigilante group stumbled across
her in May in the huge Sambisa Forest, close to
the border with Cameroon, as she was looking
for wood to make a fire.
She was with a baby, and a suspected militant
who identified himself as her husband.
Boko Haram had previously said that some of
the girls had been enslaved or "married off" to
fighters.
Foreign governments, including those from the
US and China, had promised to help Nigeria
search for the girls when they were abducted
while preparing for the school exams in Chibok in
April 2014.
Boko Haram has been fighting since 2009 to
create an Islamic state, but it has lost most of
the territory under its control in the last 19
months following an offensive by a multi-national
force.
Boko Haram at a glance:
Founded in 2002, initially focused on
opposing Western-style education
Launched military operations in 2009
Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern
Nigeria, hundreds abducted
Joined so-called Islamic State, calls itself
IS's "West African province"
Seized large area in north-east, where it
declared caliphate
Regional force has retaken most territory
Movement leadership split