A new twist to the Boko Haram saga emerged yesterday night as an unidentified caller claiming to be the spokesman of the sect, Abul Qaqa, who was said to be in the custody of a security agency, insisted that he was not the one arrested, but rather a junior officer sent to prepare the ground for dialogue with government.
According to the sect's spokesman, who spoke with newsmen in a teleconference in Maiduguri, Abu Dardaa, another official of the sect, went to arrange a meeting with the federal government in Kaduna but that government 'cheated' and captured him.
He said: "We want to react on what security agents said in respect of the arrest of one of our own. The person that was arrested was Abu Dardaa, and not Abu Qaqa. I am Abul Qaqa, the spokesman of the Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnati Lidda'awati Wal Jihad. Abul Dardaa is the head of the Lagina (Department) of public enlightenment and not the spokesman.
"The arrest of Abu Dardaa is an outright deception and betrayal by the Nigerian government and security agents. They proclaimed dialogue and are doing the opposite.
His arrest has proven to us that they were waiting for us to avail ourselves so that they can arrest us.
"We purposely sent Abul Dardaa to Kaduna to discuss with some key government functionaries on the issue of dialogue. Indeed, he had started talking to them but, unknown to him, they directed some security agents to trail him and arrest him. This was exactly what happened."
"We initially thought that the much talked-about dialogue was true and we actually resolved that after the initial meeting with Dardaa, we would send five representatives to stand for us. Part of what we told him to discuss with the government representatives was the unconditional release of our members as pre-condition for any further discussion. I want to reiterate that we want all our members to be released for peace to return and for dialogue to hold."
However, reliable sources informed LEADERSHIP that the voice in the interview with the sect's purported spokesperson was not Abul Qaqa's.