In a recent interview with Daily Trust, on Sunday, August 16, Wakkil, who has been peacemaking between the Jama’atu Ahlil Sunnah (Boko Haram) and the federal government for over five years spoke on a number of issues.
Barrister Aisha Kalil Wakkil, a human rights activist with the National Human Rights Commission, who claims to be a very close confidant of Boko Haram foot soldiers, has said she knew some of the insurgents right from when they were circumcised.
According to her, the insurgents were very wonderful children and most of them lived in her house as it was open to all the children in that area.
She said: “That was how I got to know most of them. Then they were not Boko Haram and Jama’atu ah-lil Sunnah members. It is surprising how these children turned out to be what they are now. I keep on saying there is certainly no smoke without fire.
Something must have triggered those innocent-looking children to grow up behaving the way they are behaving now. You needed to see them growing up. Sometimes when I start talking about them, I shed tears. Those children prayed, and still pray a lot. I have a mosque in the house and they would always go in and pray.”
Wakkil narrated how she started noticing changes in them. How they would go out in the morning and return in the evening and during the fasting period, they would not return until around 11 or 12 midnight. They also started attending Muhammad Yusuf’s lectures to listen to his preaching.
“I didn’t observe anything strange about the teaching. Soon, the children began to be conscious of themselves. It was then that the rumour started that they were planning a war. When I heard of it, I went straight to Muhammad Yusuf because I had been very close to him.
When I realized that Muhammad Yusuf was frequently being arrested, detained and released, I went to Baba Fugu and asked him why his son-in-law was always being detained? But I learnt he was always preaching things government didn’t like and insulting them,” she said.
The lawyer explained that after about a year or two, the rumours started again that they were planning to fight, saying: “Those boys in my house suddenly disappeared for about a month; I did not set my eyes on them.
I was tensed up and started asking people where they were, but nobody could tell me. Eventually when they returned, one of them told me he had something to tell me. He said, ‘Mama we went for training. Mama, I swear, our guns have already arrived in Maiduguri and that included AK47s. I then asked him where they trained and he respectfully replied, “Mama, I will not tell you this one.”
Wakkil had called Yusuf, who confirmed that they were planning to start a war and there was nothing that could be done to stop them, adding that the war would engulf everybody.
That was how the insurgents began causing havoc. The boys in her house left and in a short while became commanders in the Boko Haram group.
She stated that she had visited the insurgents several times at different locations in the bush and she used to take food and drugs to them, which were their major requirements.
Asked if she had ever told the insurgents to accept an amnesty, she replied: “Yes, I have been doing that right from day one. In the beginning, they were telling me that, ‘Mama, we don’t like this thing that is happening to us.
We are sure something is wrong somewhere. If government can call us and ask us, we shall tell them everything. Let government dialogue with us and tell us how to stop all these things and we will stop.
“But as time went on, they started talking negative of government. They were saying government was no more doing this and that.
One of them told me, ‘Mama, the ocean we are swimming in is very deep. This thing has graduated from the Jama’atul Ahlil Sunnah into something else. The big men in Nigeria know what I am saying. Such people will not allow peace to emerge because they have their interests.’”
On whether the insurgents would accept an amnesty, she said: “Let me ask you this question; are they not human beings? If they are human beings like you and I, why won’t they accept the offer of amnesty? This administration is willing to dialogue with them.
I am sure the president would like to ask them what happened and I am sure the children will be willing to say it. I was with them recently and they were asking me if the society will be willing to forgive them.
I said why not if they will drop their arms and become good boys. If Nigeria and Nigerians can accommodate the OPC in the West, MASSOB in the East and the Niger Delta militants, why won’t they accommodate them?”
When asked if Shekau was really dead, she replied: “I am sorry, I won’t answer that question. I do not want to discuss that issue.”
Differentiating between the leadership of Yusuf and Shekau, she said Yusuf was cool-headed, adding: “But you should also know that they are not responsible for all the killings. Some of the killings are politically motivated while others may be for economic reasons. When finally there is peace and the boys come into the open, Nigerians will hear from them. They will tell the world who and who were sending them to do what.”