The activist said Boko Haram's current offer is limited to the girls from the school in northeastern Nigeria whose mass abduction in April ignited worldwide outrage and a campaign to "Bring Back Our Girls" that stretched to the White House.
The new initiative reopens an offer made last year to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan to release the students in exchange for 16 Boko Haram detainees, the activist said.
The man, who was involved in negotiations with Boko Haram last year and is close to current negotiators, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters on this sensitive issue.
Fred Eno, an apolitical Nigerian who has been negotiating with Boko Haram for more than a year, told the AP that "another window of opportunity opened" in the last few days, though he could not discuss details. He said the recent slew of Boko Haram bloodletting — some people killed in the past nine days — is consistent with past ratcheting up of violence as the militants seek a stronger negotiating position.
A screen shot of a video released by Boko Haram shows kidnapped Nigerian school girls. Eno said the 5-week-old administration of President Muhammadu Buhari offers "a clean slate" to bring the militants back to negotiations that had become poisoned by the different security agencies and their advice to Jonathan.
Two months of talks last year led government representatives and Eno to travel in September to a northeastern town where the prisoner exchange was to take place, only to be stymied by the Department for State Service intelligence agency, the activist said.
At the last minute, the agency said it was holding only four of the militants sought by Boko Haram, the activist said. It is not known how many Boko Haram suspects are detained by Nigeria's intelligence agency, whose chief Buhari fired last week. The activist said the agency continues to hold suspects illegally because it does not have enough evidence for a conviction, and any court would free them.
Nigerian law requires charges be brought after 48 hours. Thousands of suspects have died in custody, and some detainees wanted by Boko Haram may be among them. Amnesty International alleges that 8, detainees have died in military custody — some have been shot, some have died from untreated injuries due to torture, and some have died from starvation and other harsh treatment. In May, about women, girls and children being held captive by Boko Haram were rescued by Nigeria's military, but none were from Chibok.
It is believed that the militants view the Chibok girls as a last-resort bargaining chip. In that infamous abduction, mostly Christian girls preparing to write science exams were seized from the school by Islamic militants in the early hours of April 15, Dozens escaped on their own in the first few days, but remain missing.
Boko Haram has not shown them since a May video in which its leader, Abubakar Shekau warned: Reuters In the video, nearly of the girls, who have been identified by their parents, were shown wearing Islamic hijab and reciting the Quran.
One of them said they had converted to Islam. International indignation at Nigeria's failure to rescue the girls was joined by U. In a radio address in May , she said she and President Barack Obama are "outraged and heartbroken" over the abduction.
Jonathan's government initially denied there had been any mass abduction and delays of a rescue that might have brought the girls home became a hallmark of his other failures. He steadfastly refused to meet with the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners, charging they were politicizing the issue. On Wednesday, President Buhari welcomed those campaigners at the presidential villa in Abuja and pleaded "We only ask for your patience. At least three were reported to have died — one from dysentery, one from malaria and one from a snake bite.
Last year, Shekau said the girls were an "old story," and that he had married them off to his fighters. Lawan Zanna, whose daughter is among the captives, said this week that 14 Chibok parents have died since the mass kidnapping, many from stress-related illnesses blamed on the ordeal.
An image taken from video released late Friday evening, Oct. Abubakar Shekau, centre, is the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group. Shekau had threatened in to kidnap women and girls if Nigeria's military did not release detained Boko Haram wives and children.
The government freed them in May of that year as a goodwill gesture ahead of failed peace talks. Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds more — girls, boys, women and young men. Some have become sex slaves, while others are used as fighters, according to former captives. Nigerian opinion on negotiating with the extremists is mixed. Some say the group's crimes are too heinous to be forgiven: The 6-year-old Islamic uprising has killed more than 13, people and forced about 1.
She called it a "very complex" issue, balancing the lives of more than girls against the dangers of freeing extremists. The militants last year seized a large swath of northeast Nigeria and declared an Islamic caliphate. Nigeria and its neighbors deployed a multinational army that forced them out of towns and villages this year, but the bloodshed has risen at a fierce rate since Buhari's May 29 inauguration amid pledges to crush the insurgency.