Boko Haram Factions Ready for Talks, Says Ex-commander

• Another surrenders, confesses to participating in abduction of Chibok girls
By Paul Obi with agency report    
The two factions of Boko Haram may be ready for talks with the federal government, Abdulkadir Abubakar, a former commander of the group is claiming.
Abubakar, also known as Abu Muhammad, was the chief intelligence officer of the terror group and one of its top commanders, until his arrest in June by the military in Buni Yadi in Gujba Local Government Area of Yobe State.
Abubakar told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at his cell in Maiduguri that the Albarnawi and Mamman Nur factions of Boko Haram were willing to dialogue and co-operate with the government to defeat the most visible leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau.
According to him, Shekau, whose capture, dead or alive, the military high command has ordered, has been the major obstacle to peace, since the insurgency began in 2009.
“Shekau is not willing to surrender due to his high handedness. Unfortunately, the government and military authorities accorded priority to dealing with Shekau, who is bloodthirsty.
“Albarnawi has indicated interest in dialogue with the government to end the insurgency and provide a lasting solution to the crisis. Albarnawi discusses this with members of his circle. And I can assure the government that he would co-operate to achieve peace.
“The two factions are willing to co-operate with the Nigerian government to defeat Shekau,” he said.
Abubakar’s claim about the readiness of the factions to dialogue with the Nigerian authorities could not be verified, as he had been incarcerated since June.
But he insisted that the groups were predisposed to a peaceful resolution of the eight-year-old crisis.
Abubakar claimed to have undertaken various espionage missions and provided intelligence to the insurgents, which enabled them to
hit a long list of targets, among which were the abduction of 276 students from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, and the massacre of students at Federal Government College, Buni Yadi. Over 20 students were murdered at Buni Yadi.
He also claimed to have been involved in other attacks on schools in Maiduguri, Damaturu, Postikum, and Mamudo.
The detained Boko Haram commander expressed his willingness to give the military useful information to crush the insurgents and arrest Shekau.
“I am co-operating with the military and I am ready to provide information on the whereabouts of Shekau. Shekau has left his enclave in Sambisa and moved deep into Mandara mountain. I know the area where he is hiding and willing to provide a guide to the military.
“The intensified military offensive has weakened Shekau’s position and that of the other groups,” he added.
Abubakar also revealed deep divisions and power struggle among the insurgents, claiming that the Albarnawi and Mamman Nur factions were opposed to Shekau’s leadership style and his thirst for blood.
He also blamed Shekau for many attacks on civilians by the Boko Haram insurgents.
“During the early days of the insurgency, we fought for what we thought was a just cause, to establish a caliphate where human beings are valued, cherished and respected.
“After annexing vast territories, Shekau began to demonstrate his cruelty and atrocities against humanity.
“In view of the high-level atrocities committed by the group, some of the top commanders including myself, Albarnawi and Mamman Nur challenged Shekau, demanding an immediate end to the ugly saga.
“Thereafter, Albarnawi and Mamman Nur parted ways and formed their groups. Shekau is responsible for the suicide bombings and attacks on soft targets in the North-east.
“The Albarnawi and Mamman Nur groups never attacked schools, religious places of worship, markets, women and children. Our fight was strictly with security forces.
“Even the kidnapped oil workers would not be killed by the group,” he said.
According to him, both Mamman Nur and Albarnawi opposed the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, women and children.
“Shekau is fond of using the girls and other abducted women as sex toys, and suicide bombers. He kills on the pretext of punishing for lies, theft, and rebellion. Shekau kills without justification.
“Shekau arrogated to himself the powers to accuse, prosecute, convict and punish in total contradiction to Islamic teachings. Children and women also starved to death in Sambisa due to Shekau’s cruelty,” he said.
Meanwhile, another top Boko Haram commander who played a major role in the abduction of the Chibok girls and killings of youths in Madagali has surrendered and confessed to several acts of bloodletting of innocent people and destruction of property across the length and breadth of the North-east.
In an interview with PRNigeria at a military facility for the repentant and surrendered Boko Haram members in the North-east, the ex-terrorist leader said he regretted the atrocities he was forced to commit against humanity.
The commander, Auwal Ismaeela is currently cooperating with the Nigerian military with useful information on locations and hideouts of other top commanders of the deadly sect.
He expressed regret over his actions, saying they ran counter to Islamic injunctions.
Ismaeela encouraged other top commanders of the sect to give up and surrender to the military.
He said: “Myself and Abu Hafsat a Boko Haram commander led other squads to abduct the Chibok girls.
“We led the operations to invade Gwoza, Bama, Limankara mobile barrack, Bita, Bosso, Madagali, Chibok, Pulka, Firgi and Mubi.
“In Madagali, which was my hometown, myself, Adam Vitiri, Abu Adam and Habu Kudama, some high-ranking Boko Haram commanders led an operation in 2014 where we killed some students and youths at the Central Secondary School in Sabon Garin, Madagali.
“In one of the operations, I abducted my wife named Maryam who had two kids for me in Sambisa forest.
“It is unfortunate that I was brainwashed and misled not only on some abductions but in the killings of my own people who were innocent. I wholeheartedly regret my actions.
“During a battle in Konduga, where myself and other Boko Haram commanders led the operations, I lost my right leg and almost got burnt.
“Even at that, I did not stop fighting for the course. Sheikh Shekau ordered that I should be given a tricycle which I continued to use for various operations before I eventually surrendered,” he explained.
He gave several reasons for his decision to voluntarily surrender to the Nigerian troops after realising the misleading sermons, barbaric indoctrination of the sect leaders and atrocities being committed in some of the Boko Haram camps.
He said: “I willingly surrendered to the military because I was tired of the senseless killings and fighting. I realised that our people had resorted to stealing and all sorts of atrocities, contrary to the teachings and practice of Islam.
“Women were being raped, sometimes publicly. Children died from malnutrition and diseases as the living condition became harsher. As there was no food in the camp, people died every day because of hunger.
 “I will continue to cooperate with the security agencies in providing useful information on our mode of operation and to disclose top secret hideouts of our commanders,” he volunteered.
So far more than 100 Boko Haram members and their commanders have surrendered to the military in the recent past.

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