The Boko Haram sect is offering to free the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from their hostels at the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State last year in exchange for the release of militant leaders held by the government.
According to an activist, who pleaded anonymity with AP because he was not authorised to talk to reporters on the sensitive issue, it was revealed that Boko Haram’s current offer is limited to the schoolgirls abducted on April 14, 2014.
“The new initiative reopens an offer made last year to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan to release the 219 students in exchange for 16 Boko Haram detainees,” the activist said.
He said the five-week-old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari “offers a clean slate” to bring the militants back to negotiations that had become poisoned by the different security agencies and their advice to Jonathan.
It will be recalled that the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Saturday stated that the Buhari-led government “will not be aversed” to talks with Boko Haram.
Meanwhile, the Chief Imam of Apo Legislator’s Quarter’s Jumat Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Khalid, has cancelled the special i’tikaaf prayer normally observed by Muslims during the last 10 days of Ramadan in that mosque.
I’tikaaf is a special prayer offered my Muslims during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
During that period, a Muslim is required to retire to the mosque and remain in seclusion solely with the intention of offering prayers and supplication to Allah.
Khalid announced the cancellation of the prayer in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said the move had become necessary following increased insecurity in the country.
He added, “Everyone can testify to the fact that insecurity is becoming higher; bombings have become the order of the day in the North, especially in the north-eastern part of the country.
“We need to join hands with the government to do whatever we can possibly do in our capability to tackle it headlong.
“However, it is a very difficult task to tackle because of the faceless nature of the Boko Haram members that have been terrorising Nigeria.”
Khalid then urged other Imams not to allow the special prayer in their mosques so as not to jeopardise the security of potential participants.
He said that allowing people to gather in the mosque for the special prayer was not safe, calling for attitudinal change by Nigerians in order to move the country forward.
He urged the Federal Government to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths to avoid restiveness, stressing that providing employment for the youths will take them off the streets.
The chief imam said security was a collective responsibility, hence it should not be left in the hands of the government alone.
He advised security agencies to intensify their intelligence gathering to enable them to overcome insurgency in the country.
He said, “Security agents should be able to know the flashpoint, in the areas affected by insurgents and how to overpower them.
“Knowing the flashpoints will go a long way in making security agency’s task easier and more effective.”