Nigeria is walking back its claim that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was killed in an airstrike last week. Shekau is now described as “wounded.”
He is also portrayed as less relevant than he used to be, as the government says Boko Haram has lost all of its Nigerian territory and collapsed into splinter groups.
The Associated Press reports Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announcing that his government is ready to negotiate with “bona fide leaders” of Boko Haram to secure the release of the schoolgirls kidnapped from the village of Chibok in 2014. The terrorist gang recently released a video showing some of the girls alive while claiming others died in captivity.
“If they do not want to talk to us directly, let them pick an internationally recognized non-governmental organization. We want those girls out and safe. The faster we can recover them and hand them over to their parents, the better for us,” said Buhari.
The Punch has Buhari speaking of Boko Haram in the past tense and warning the militants holding the Chibok girls that they will be “dealt with the same way the nation’s military dealt with members of the Boko Haram sect.”
Buhari spoke from a bilateral meeting in Nairobi with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development on Saturday. The Punch says Buhari “assured existing and prospective foreign investors that their investments in Nigeria will be fully secured and protected.”
“As a government, we know our responsibility, which is to secure the environment. It is clear to us that lenders won’t fund projects in insecure environments. We realise that we have to secure the country before we can efficiently manage it,” Buhari said.
The UK Guardian notes that Boko Haram’s patrons in the Islamic State don’t consider the group dead and buried, but they also no longer recognize Shekau as leader. Instead, ISIS has appointed Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the 22-year-old son of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf, as leader.