Nigerian journalist, Ahmad Salkida, who previously worked for Daily Trust and Premium Times and reported extensively on Boko Haram, fled Nigeria to Dubai 2 years ago after being accused of being a Boko Haram sympathizer. He said he fled after ‘his life and that of his family became endangered’ after security agencies began to mistake his in-depth reporting on the terrorist group as evidence of his closeness to them. He went underground for several weeks before finally fleeing Nigeria. Salkida was perhaps the only Nigerian journalist/civilian to have access to Boko Haram, and he said at the time that he’d turned down Boko Haram’s many requests for him to publish exclusive interviews and materials for them.
Anyway according to new reports, the Nigerian government flew him back home a few weeks ago to negotiate with Boko Haram on their behalf, since he’s the only civilian who has allegedly seen Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and come out alive. He reportedly came back home after the Nigerian government assured him that he will not be arrested. (See his tweets).
One hundred non-combatant, low-level sympathisers were to be freed and the two groups brought together in a convoy of buses accompanied by a hand-picked go-between, respected Nigerian journalist Ahmad Salkida.
The plan had been agreed in tortuous negotiations in response to worldwide outrage over a night-time raid on a school in the town of Chibok on April 14 when the girls were abducted from their dormitories.
Mr Salkida was born in Borno State, where Boko Haram originated. He has known its leaders all his life and has unprecedented access.
He has been arrested on several occasions accused of being a Boko Haram sympathiser, and he fled with his family to Dubai two years ago.
But two weeks ago, he was summoned out of exile by President Jonathan’s aides. He initially feared he might face arrest, but was then given a letter of indemnity signed by the President when he flew to Nigeria.
Sources said Mr Salkida was able to travel by taxi to the group’s forest camp to talk to Shekau two weeks ago. ‘His mission was secretive and dangerous,’ they said.
He is probably the only civilian with access to Shekau. There is trust between them and Salkida had only one aim – to get the schoolgirls out.
He reported afterwards that the group of girls he saw were alive and well, and being adequately fed and sheltered. They told him all they wanted was to go home.
Salkida’s mission was complicated by the chaos surrounding government’s pronouncements about negotiations with the terrorist group.
Shekau has released two shocking videos showing the girls dressed in hijabs and reciting verses from the Koran.