A fascinating interview with Stephen Davis, one of the government-supported negotiators for the Chibok girls, is here. H/t to Jonathan. Some claims Davis makes:
- Former Borno state Governor Sheriff is a main Boko Haram sponsor. Davis is mystified as to why Sheriff has not yet been arrested. Sheriff recently switched to the PDP in the hope of getting state protection, Davis claims. Arresting Sheriff along with the other main sponsors will–at least temporarily–take Boko Haram out of action.
- There are Boko Haram leaders who want both a peace deal and to hand over the Chibok girls. They can’t do this because their sponsors will kill commanders who enter into peace negotiations.
- Davis says they got an agreement where about 20 Chibok girls would be released. Boko Haram released the girls to a village, notified the negotiators an hour later of the location, giving them time to flee, but by the time the negotiators arrived the Boko Haram sponsors had ordered for the girls to be re-kidnapped. The negotiators were able to get 4 girls released, but after this happened more girls were kidnapped to compensate for the loss of girls, and in the process 60 or 70 people in the village were be killed. So the negotiators stopped negotiating.
- In one case girls were released, but 24 hours earlier the police had offered a large reward for the girls. Some individuals within Boko Haram re-kidnapped the girls from where they were dropped off, hoping to reap this reward. Boko Haram commanders told Davis these people were “taken care of.”
- Some things Davis said didn’t make sense. He said the Nigerian military doesn’t know when Boko Haram is heading to a village until the rebels are too close for the military to take preventative action. He thinks the international community should share aerial data with the military to allow for air strikes as Boko Haram approaches village. He says because the area is so arid, and the Boko Haram convoys are so large–often 40 to 60 vehicles–this should not be difficult. But framing this as an information problem seems to go against what Amnesty and others have documented, where villagers report to the military that Boko Haram asks for directions to a village but the military does nothing.
- More generally, Davis describes the emergence of Boko Haram and Niger Delta rebel groups as a result of politicians heavily arming civilians to win votes, and then abandoning the gangs they created immediately after elections.
- Overall, Davis makes a compelling case for the importance of arresting the Boko Haram sponsors.