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Negotiate With Boko Haram — Ambassador Bolori Urges Buhari

Ahmed Bolori, one of the Nigerians declared wanted by the Nigerian Army, has urged the Nigerian government to engage members of the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram, in a dialogue. Mr. Bolori added that it made sense for the government to explore other means having relied solely on the military option the past seven years with little result, particularly regarding the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the insurgent group from Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

Ahmed Bolori
Ahmed Bolori
In an exclusive interview with SaharaReporters, Mr. Bolori advised the government to desist from communicating with the group through the media. Instead, he prescribed one- on-one communication between the government and the leadership of Boko Haram.

Mr. Bolori, who runs a foundation that caters for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria’s beleaguered northeast zone, said he is an ambassador for peace. “The military intervention has been going on for over seven years. Boko Haram and the Nigerian Army have been fighting since 2009. The country is going through economic challenges. Despite the fact that people are dying of hunger, the government is still using resources to buy weapons, to pay extra military allowance. Considering all these, I think it would be wise for the same government to try other alternative means, like dialogue, for peaceful resolution.”

Mr. Bolori reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement during last week’s visit to Kenya to the effect that the Federal Government was ready to dialogue with bona fide leaders of Boko Haram who can disclose the whereabouts of the Chibok girls. Mr. Buhari had also urged the group to choose an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to negotiate a prisoner swap for the girls, if the group did not trust the government.

Mr. Bolori said he hoped the president’s position was not a mere political statement, adding that he was averse to violent means of resolving a dispute. Stating that he did not sympathize with the terror group, Mr. Bolori added that he was sympathetic to the victims of the various Boko Harm attacks.

He suggested that the nature of his work led the Nigerian Army to recently declare him a wanted person. He disclosed that was the person who introduced Mrs. Aisha Wakil, also declared wanted by the Nigerian Army, to the Army in the hope that the military would leverage on her relationship with some Boko Haram members to broker peace. He added that, instead of taking his advice, the Nigerian Army went ahead to declare him wanted. Asked if he trusted the intentions of Mrs. Wakil, he stated that she must have genuine intentions having represented the insurgent group in a negotiation with the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. He said that Mrs. Wakil had informed him that she was in touch with some members of the sect, adding that, with her social status, she would not tell false tales.

“One thing that reaffirms my confidence in her was the fact that she was part of President Jonathan’s committee on negotiation. If she does not know anything, the President as at that time wouldn’t have let her be a member of the committee. This is enough indication that this woman is in touch with the Boko Haram group. Another thing is that she said she is in touch with them. And I consider her caliber, her status, including the fact that she is a lawyer, and she is working with the government.”

Mr. Bolori dismissed a statement by the Nigerian Army that he and his two other colleagues were not cooperating with the Army. He said those in government sometimes make such claims in order to protect themselves or to counter propaganda. He added that he had not heard about the Army’s statement, adding that he just heard about the military’s claims via the media. He denied the statement, blaming it on propaganda.

He said he was surprised, shocked and taken aback at first hearing he had been declared wanted, insisting that the Army acted in a wrong manner in making the declaration.

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