As the Nigerian government extended to neighbouring countries the search for the 110 schoolgirls abducted last week in Dapchi, Yobe State, a human rights activist, Aisha Wakil, claimed a Boko Haram faction had contacted her to confirm it has the girls.
Aisha Wakil, who is also known as Mama Boko Haram, was a member of the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges Committee in the northern region, set up during the President Goodluck Jonathan era.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, the activist said the Barnawi faction of Boko Haram contacted her on Thursday.
She added that the abductors confirmed to her that the girls were safe, healthy and in good condition.
In an interview with PRNigeria earlier this week, Ms. Wakil had called on the abductors to release the girls to enable them to be reunited with their families.
Ms. Wakil, who is said to have communication links with Boko Haram and is respected by some leaders of the sect, declared that she was ready to sacrifice her life to rescue the girls.
Ms. Wakil said: “They are even the ones that called me, and said Mama we heard what you have said and told me that they are with the girls and they are going to release them.
“I begged of them and said please let this not be another 1,000-plus days of Chibok girls, and they laughed and said no.
“I asked them where I can come and stay with them (girls) for two days, but they did not say anything.
“I can assure Nigerians that so far they are with my son Habib and his friends; Habib is a nice guy, he is very nice boy. He will not harm them, he will not touch them, and he will not kill them.
“They will definitely give us the girls. All I am begging Nigerians is to calm down, be prayerful, everything will be over in God grace”.
NAN reports that the activist had at various times participated and played key roles in negotiations between the military authorities and Boko Haram insurgents’ commanders, which facilitated the release of numerous abductees from terrorists’ captivity.
In a statement today, the federal government announced it has stepped up the search for the 110 girls to the neighbouring countries.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said top military and security officials on Thursday travelled to the North-east to add more urgency to the search, which has now been extended beyond the North-east theatre.
The officials include the nation’s top military officer and Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Army Staff; Tukur Buratai and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura.
They joined the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, who had earlier relocated to the North-east, as well as the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, who has also visited the theatre.
The federal government had earlier released the names and other details of the 110 girls who have yet to be accounted for, following the attack on the GGSTC, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018.
The panel set up by the federal government to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the girls was inaugurated on Thursday by the NSA.