NewsRescue-The article below as well as the other international news sources in the article counter false presentations by the Nigerian government and the Vanguard newspaper desperately seeking to dissociate the Nigerian president from Dr. Stephen Davis after he named ex-Chief of army, General Azubuike Ihejirika and ex-Borno Governor, Ali Modu Sheriff as two top sponsors of the Boko Haram terror menace.
The Vanguard Monday in a piece written by a certain Soni Daniel, claimed Stephen Davis denied being an official negotiator, however the article rescued below strongly discredits the publication and its claim that Stephen interviewed with the Vanguard and said he was not hired.
Rescued from Channel4 News publication, June 2, 2014
Freeing Nigerian schoolgirls now ‘a very messy affair’
by Jonathan Miller
The man negotiating for the release of the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, tells Channel 4 News about his frustration over the chaos surrounding efforts to free them.
Stephen Davis, an Anglican clergyman from Western Australia, who has advised three successive Nigerian presidents and brokered a truce with militants in the Niger Delta a decade ago, said he is confident that negotiations with Boko Haram will succeed. He has fostered links with the group over the past eight years.
But Dr Davis has slammed the general handling of the hostage crisis, saying his team had “come within a whisker” of brokering a release three times within the past month, only to have each handover scuppered at the last moment. He, and others we have spoken to, allege that powerful figures with “vested interests” have sought to sabotage a deal.
The 220 missing girls are, Dr Davis believes, being held in three main camps, under different Boko Haram commanders, all of them outside Nigeria’s borders.
“Despite this,” he said, “every indication is positive. But as we get close to a handover, I am sure that there will be interference from some parties who do not want to see an end to the conflict in the north. That will be the most difficult time.”
There are long-standing allegations of senior figures in the military and intelligence services “skimming” money from generous defence budgets designed to fight the worsening insurgency. An adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan has also told Channel 4 News of deep-seated suspicions that Muslim politicians in Nigeria’s restive northern states do not want to see a Christian president from the south succeed in resolving the crisis.
Asked about this in Maiduguri, the governor of Borno State, Kashima Shetima, scoffed at the notion. “The president is surrounded by paranoid advisors,” he told us.
Others, on both sides, are said to simply want to make money. Still others are understood to have some degree of sympathy with the jihadi group’s demands for a “pure” Islamic state under a strict interpretation of Sharia law in northern Nigeria.
“It’s complicated and it all lurches from pillar to post and things don’t get any better for the girls,” said Dr Davis, a former Canon at Coventry Cathedral.
‘Too many players from both sides’
His identity as the President’s unpaid intermediary was revealed by a Nigerian newspaper late last week. This report was picked up by the Sunday Times in the UK and then by the Daily Mail among others.
The Australian cleric, who is a close friend and associate of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Wellby, said the deliberate leaking of his name was “unhelpful” in his efforts to negotiate with rebel commanders.
“The best way to do this is quiet and quick,” Dr Davis told Channel 4 News by telephone on Monday from an undisclosed location in Nigeria. “But this is now loud and long. There are too many players from the two sides. This noise and clutter slows down the process and muddies the water.”
“It has become a very messy affair,” he said.
Dr Davis has been quietly working behind the scenes as the president’s envoy, negotiating with Boko Haram for more than a month. He has undertaken numerous trips to volatile locations in northern Nigeria for face-to-face meetings with Boko Haram commanders. He has been working in conjunction with Aisha Wakil, a Muslim convert with known connections to Boko Haram, who is trusted by senior commanders.
Unlike the soft-spoken Anglican priest, other negotiators have sought the limelight. One, a former Nigerian journalist called Ahmad Salkida, obtained a third video from Boko Haram last week, showing some of the adbucted girls appealing for their release. They reportedly speak about their violent ordeal and one says they have been given insufficient food.
Mr Salkida, who is understood to have shown the video to President Jonathan, is also believed to have tried – unsuccessfully – to sell rights to the footage to international television stations for a substantial, but undisclosed, sum of money. News of this is said to have resulted in his falling out with the Boko Haram commanders with whom he was dealing.