Jonathan yesterday reiterated Nigeria’s position, saying: “Analysis of the information we have does not give us the conclusive position that they have all been killed but we suspect that some probably might have died of health-related causes or direct killing.
“We have been working hard with friendly nations, especially the United Kingdom to see that they are rescued. We suspect that they are in a rocky area, a very difficult area that cannot be easily accessed but we are working hard to get to them,” he said.
Meanwhile, hope that another set of hostages, kidnapped by Boko Haram in Cameroun last month, might still be alive was rekindled yesterday following a report by the Associated Press (AP) of a video showing one of the hostages in which he claimed to have spoken with a family member.
The French citizen, who was abducted with his family last month in Cameroun, spoke in a recording made by Boko Haram and was obtained by AFP.
The recording was distributed to reporters by purported intermediaries of the terrorist group.
A source close to the family confirmed to AFP that the voice on the recording was that of Tanguy Moulin-Fournier, who was kidnapped with his wife, four children and brother while vacationing in northern Cameroun.
“It is indeed Tanguy Moulin-Fournier,” the man said on the condition of anonymity.
The audio recording obtained by AFP was said to have been taken from a video.
In it, the man identified himself as Moulin-Fournier and read a statement in French and English, pleading with “our ambassador in Nigeria” to work to free them.
“I was arrested 25 days ago, with my wife, my four kids, the last one being four years old, and my brother who came from Europe, by an armed commando of Jamaatu Ahlisunnah Lidda’awatiwal Jihad,” he said in English after his French statement.
“We have been detained for 25 days in a desert place. Living conditions are very hard,” he added in the recording.
Moulin-Fournier also repeated previous Boko Haram demands for the release of prisoners in Cameroun and Nigeria.
Moulin-Fournier, in another statement seemed to be addressed to Cameroun President Paul Biya, asking him to free Boko Haram prisoners.
“They will liberate us if you liberate their men who have been arrested in Cameroun…,” he said.
“They don’t want to enter into conflict with Cameroun. However, if you arrest their (members) again in Cameroun, they will multiply the kidnapping and suicide operations in Cameroun, more than in Nigeria.,” the hostage added.
Also Monday, a French Muslim politician of Algerian decent, Rachid Nekkaz, volunteered to visit Nigeria next month to meet with the Boko Haram and Ansaru leadership to facilitate the release of the French hostages.
The Federal Government and Defence Headquarters however said they were not aware of the visit, with the Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, adding: “Such a visit should be in his private capacity.”
Nakkaz, a candidate in 2007 for the French presidential election and spokeman for the non-profit organisation ‘Hands off my Consitution’, had in a statement Monday co-signed by the organisation’s president, Jean-Bruno Roumegoux, disclosed that they will be in Kano on April 1-7 “to meet with the heads of Ansaru and Boko Haram organisations.”
He said their major aim of the visit was to address the French hostage situation and to ensure that the two terrorist groups recognised the wider implication of their actions even to Muslim communities.
Reacting to the proposed visit, Obada stated that while there was no official confirmation of the visit, if there was, it is a private one that Nekkaz would be conducting in his personal capacity.
She emphasised that the visit must be premised on peace and mediation, warning that Nekkaz might be stopped if it is ascertained that he could worsen the security situation in the country.
The Director of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters, Col. Mohammed Yerima, also said he was unaware of Nekkaz’s proposed visit.