Former President Olusegun Obasanjo met with people close to Boko Haram in an attempt to broker the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, a source close to the talks told AFP. The meeting took place last weekend at Obasanjo's farm in Ogun State.
Present at the meeting were relatives of some senior Boko Haram fighters as well as intermediaries and the former president, the source said. "The meeting was focused on how to free the girls through negotiation," said the source who requested anonymity, referring to the girls seized on April 14 from the remote northeastern town of Chibok, Borno state. Obasanjo had previously sought to negotiate with the insurgents in September 2011 after Boko Haram bombed the United Nations headquarters in Abuja.
He later flew to the Islamists' base in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, to meet relatives of former Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed in police custody in 2009. The 2011 talks did not help stem the violence and some at the time doubted if Obasanjo was dealing with people who were legitimately capable of negotiating a ceasefire.