By Kingsley Omonobi & Joseph Erunke, with agency reports
as commander surrenders
Maiduguri—Two factions of the Boko Haram insurgency group are ready for talks with the Federal Government, Abdulkadir Abubakar, a former commander of the group, has claimed.
Abubakar, also known as Abu Muhammad, was the chief intelligence officer of the Boko Haram 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 said at his cell in Maiduguri that Albarnawi and Mamman Nur factions of Boko Haram were willing to dialogue and cooperate with the government to defeat the most visible leader of the group, Abubakar Shekau.
Abubakar revealed deep divisions and power struggle among the insurgents, claiming the Albarnawi and Mamman Nur factions were opposed to Shekau’s leadership style and bloodthirstiness.
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 blood thirsty.
“Albarnawi has indicated interest to dialogue with the government to end 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 cooperate to achieve peace.
“The two factions are willing to cooperate with 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 are 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 275 students at 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 cooperating 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.
Tired of Shekau’s bloodthirstiness
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 suicide bombings and attack 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 school girls, women and children.
“Shekau is fond of using the girls and other abducted women as sex toys, and suicide bombers. He kills on the pretence 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.
Another commander surrenders
In an interview at a military facility for the repentant and surrendered Boko Haram members in the North-East, ex-terrorist leader, Auwal Ismaeela, 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 regretted his actions as according to him, they run counter to several Islamic injunctions.
Ismaeela encouraged other top commanders of the sect to give up and surrender to the military.
The Commander 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 home town, myself, Adam Vitiri, Abu Adam and Habu Kudama and 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 that 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 gave several reasons for his decision to voluntarily surrender to the Nigerian troops after realizing the misleading sermons, barbaric indoctrination of the sect leaders and atrocities being committed in some of the Boko Haram camps.
Tired of senseless killings
He said: “I willingly surrendered to the military because I was tired of the senseless killing and fight. I realized that our people have resorted to stealing and all sorts of atrocity contrary to the teaching and practice of Islam.
“Women were being raped, sometimes publicly. Children died from malnutrition and disease as the living condition became harsher. As there was no food in the camp, people died every day because of hunger.”