President Muhammadu Buhari says an ongoing crisis within the Boko Haram leadership, which has led to factions and breakaway groups, brought a number of unforeseen challenges to the process of negotiating with the terrorists for Chibok schoolgirls’ release.

Buhari, in a statement yesterday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, said: extended his good wishes to the people of Chibok as they held prayers and thanksgiving services to mark the sixth anniversary of the kidnapping of their daughters by the insurgents.

The president said the current COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions on movement, made it impossible for any government delegation to be with them during the event.

He said: “The armed forces of the country who are on general operations in the entire region continue in their hope that they would encounter these girls, as they did thousands of other hostages, rescue and bring them back home.

“The nation’s security and intelligence community, in whom a lot of hope, is reposed in rescuing the abducted girls is making a lot of efforts using backroom channels to get them back to their families.

These are processes, formal and informal that involves different groups with links to the terrorists, and are very tedious and uneasy as is seen in different parts of the world.

“The issue of the Chibok girls is not a forgotten issue. We cannot go to sleep over this matter. We are optimistic that ongoing efforts will yield something positive.”

He added: “In the past few years, our armed forces have recorded huge successes in the battle against Boko Haram, but they have also been careful to ensure that as few civilian lives as possible were lost in the process. We would rather ensure the young women still in captivity were freed alive.”