Last Friday, it was announced that Nigerian officials and leaders of Boko Haram had reached a cease-fire deal in Chad that could potentially lead to the release of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped in April. But various sources have become increasingly doubtful of Boko Haram's representative—a Saudi Arabian man named Danladi Ahmadu.
Up until this point, there has been no mention of Danladi Ahmadu and no affiliation with the Boko Haram insurgency. In two recordings of Ahmadu's statements, he refers to the insurgency as Boko Haram, a term generally only used by outsiders. Charlotte Alfred at Huffington Post reports that multiple sources have attempted to verify Ahmadu's identity, to no avail:
"I have failed to find anyone who has ever heard of him," BBC's Nigeria correspondent wrote.
"We've tried verifying the authenticity of the person from sources traditionally close to Boko Haram militants and we are getting negative feedback," the editors of Nigerian news site Sahara Reporters told The WorldPost by email.
Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist who is considered close to Boko Haram's leaders, said he does not believe Ahmadu is part of the group's leadership or that he speaks for the group. "I challenge Danladi Ahmadu to an open debate if he has d [sic] interest of Nigeria at heart. Who is he?" Salkida wrote on Twitter.
Nigeria's spokesperson Mike Omeri insists that they are negotiating with the right dude.
"These talks did not just happen one sunny morning ... They approached the president of Chad, and if he wasn't confident [of Ahmadu's identity] he wouldn't have connected him with the president of Nigeria," Omeri said. "The fact that this contact comes from Nigeria's neighbor gives us confidence."
For the most part, Nigeria and Chad have enjoyed an amicable trade relations, although those relations underwent a period of tension when oil was discovered in Lake Chad (the body of water between the two countries). In more recent times, the Lake has become a hotbed for Boko Haram and the two countries along with other countries that border the lake including Cameroon have joined together to fight the insurgents and secure the Lake Chad Basin.
Despite Friday's ceasefire, Boko Haram has continued attacking Nigerian civilians, but Omeri maintains that negotiations are still on.
Asked whether Nigeria would consider releasing captured Boko Haram militants in exchange for the girls, Omeri said "every asset" will be directed towards the girls' release. "Everything possible is being done until the day they are freed," he said.
Over at Medium, you can read about the heartbreaking ordeal of a few of the kidnapped girls who managed to escape. One girl states, when asked what can be done to bring back her peers:
"Their lives have already been spoiled," she tells me solemnly. "When they come back… Nothing, nothing can help them. They'll never be the same."
Image via Getty.