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Recently freed schoolgirls from the Nigerian town of Dapchi attend a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Abuja, Nigeria, March 23, 2018 (AP photo by Azeez Akunleyan).

The Many Questions Around Nigeria’s Mooted Offer of Amnesty to Boko Haram

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

On March 23, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared that his government “is ever ready to accept the unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group who shows strong commitment in that regard.” Two days later, his information minister, Lai Mohammed, revealed that “unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now.”

The immediate context for Buhari’s offer and Mohammed’s revelation was Boko Haram’s recent kidnapping of 111 schoolgirls in Dapchi, in northeastern Nigeria. The girls were kidnapped in February; the extremist group released most of the girls on March 22—one, a Christian, is still being held, and five reportedly died during their ordeal. The reasons for the release remain a subject of speculation. Was a ransom paid? Mohammed said the cease-fire talks themselves were part of the context for the release: “We were able to leverage on the wider talks when the Dapchi girls were abducted.” His statement, however, raises more questions than it answers. ...

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