The Barnawi faction of Boko Haram has contacted human rights activist, Mrs Aisha Wakil, admitting it has in its custody the Dapchi schoolgirls who were abducted last week.
The sect also hinted that the girls might be released.
Wakil, popularly called Mama Boko Haram on account of her closeness to many of the sect members, said yesterday that the Abu Musab Al-Barnawi faction called her on Thursday to confirm that it is keeping the girls.
She told NAN that the abductors told her that the girls were safe, healthy and in good condition.
She did not say how many of the girls are with the terrorists, although the Federal Government put the number of the missing girls at 110.
The sect had called her following an earlier interview she granted PRNigeria in which she pleaded with the abductors to release the girls to enable them to be reunited with their families.
She said in that interview that she was ready to sacrifice her life to rescue the girls.
Wakil said: “They were even the ones that called me, and said Mama we heard what you had said and told me that they were with the girls and they were going to release them.
“I begged of them and said please let this not be another 1,000-plus days of Chibok girls, and they laughed and said no.
“I asked them where I can come and stay with them (girls) for two days, but they did not say anything.
“I can assure Nigerians that so far they are with my son, Habib (Abu Musab Al-Barnawi), and his friends.
“Habib is a nice guy; he is a very nice boy. He will not harm them; he will not touch them; and he will not kill them.
“He is going to listen to us, and so far, he indicated interest that he loves peace. And I love them for that and believe what they said on this.
“They will definitely give us the girls. All I am begging Nigerians is to calm down, be prayerful, everything will be over.”
The activist had, at various times, participated and played key roles in negotiations between the military authorities and Boko Haram insurgents’ commanders, which facilitated the release of numerous abductees from terrorists’ captivity.
She was a member of the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges Committee in the northern region set up during the President Goodluck Jonathan era.
Al-Barnawi is the first son of the late founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf.
Yusuf died in police custody following a 2009 military crackdown on the sect in Maiduguri.
The militant group, Islamic State (ISIS), in August 2016 appointed Al-Barnawi as the head of Boko Haram, a decision which was vehemently rejected by Abubakar Shekau.