Indications emerged yesterday that Boko Haram is willing to release the over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls in exchange for 70 of its members in detention.
The sect is also asking the federal government to give amnesty to its members.
A lawyer close to the terrorist group, Hajiya Aisha Wakil, told AlJazeera English that the sect said only when these conditions are met would it release the abducted girls.
The school girls were lured by the insurgents, who disguised as soldiers, pretending to protect them from an impending attack only to force them into waiting trucks and disappear with them since April 14, 2014.
Out of the hundreds of girls lured into the insurgents’ vehicles, some managed to escape as they were being driven away while others later escaped from their captives’ den. The total number of escapees has been put at 57.
In spite of the international attention the girls’ abduction attracted, they still remain in the sect’s custody.
Hajia Wakil, who is also known as Mama Boko Haram, because of her closeness to members of the sect, said: “And they want to be given amnesty, rehabilitated, and allowed to come back home and move freely. I told them not to hold the girls as ransom and to give me the sick ones – and that was where we ended up. The girls are a growing burden to them, and if the demands are not met…”
Speaking on her relationship with the sect, she said: “I don’t agree with what they are doing, but I speak to them because I am their mother. Sometimes they call me Um el Salam [Arabic for mother of peace]. These are Nigeria’s lost boys. My hope is that the government listens to them and lets them have dialogue.
“I’m still with them after all these years because I didn’t betray them. I didn’t betray the government. I didn’t betray the military – I’m just in the middle grasping for peace”.
Asked how the schoolgirls were being treated, Hajiya Wakil said: “I know that Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’ awatiwal-Jihad (original Boko Haram fighters led by Mohammed Yusuf) don’t touch women or elderly ones”.
But she added that Boko Haram had evolved over the years and the girls were abducted by members, who deviated from the sect founder’s original teachings.
“I have spoken to them about the girls and the situation to plead for their release. When this first happened, they told me the girls were well but some sick. They need medication. They are giving them antibiotics but they cannot buy food to feed them. They are attacking villages for supplies”.
Hajia Wakil, who was a member of the Sheik Ahmed Lemu-led Presidential Committee on Conflict Resolution, said she knew many members of the sect, especially those born in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
“I know all the boys from here. I held them when they were born”.