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Sunday, 21 May 2017

FG denies paying 2m euros as ransom for Chibok girls

FG denies paying 2m euros as ransom for Chibok girls

Information Minister Lai Mohammed yesterday denied suggestions that a ransom of two million euro was paid by the federal government to Boko Haram for the release of the 82 girls.

In a response to a BBC report that the sect got the money as part of the deal to release the girls, Mohammed said: “apart from the five Boko Haram commanders, the exchange of which we have already made public, no other concession was made.

“Any other thing to the contrary is absolutely false.

“I emphatically deny on behalf of the Federal Government that any sum of ransom was paid in exchange of the 82 Chibok girls.”

A thanksgiving service will be held for the girls today in Abuja.

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It will be recalled during the talks that led to the release of 82 Chibok girls on Saturday, two options came up for the Federal Government

They are:
Swapping the 82 girls with detained Boko Haram members
Paying ransom.

The government chose swapping because, a source said, it did not want a repeat of ransom payment as the case was during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Besides, it took negotiators some months to agree on swapping because the two sides were consulting.

A source, spoke of how the negotiation took many months because each side was going back and forth to consult on the terms for the release of the 82 girls.

“As a matter of fact, the insurgents wanted ransom and the government had to weigh its implications,” the source said, pleading not to be named, adding:

“At the end of the day, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari opted for swapping instead of payment of ransom to avoid a mistake of the past. The government also felt ransom could further lead to the acquisition of more equipment and ammunition by Boko Haram.

“Above all, the government was guided by the fact that swapping is in line with international best practices. Many countries, including the United States, have undergone some situations like this before.

“So, we saw swapping as cost-effective since Boko Haram has been largely degraded.”

In response to a question, the source said: “Both parties agreed to manage the release of the girls in a no winner, no vanquished manner. We don’t want to jeopardise the chances of freedom for others.”

Amnesty International (AI) yesterday asked the Federal Government to ensure the privacy of the released girls.

AI gave the advice in a statement by its Nigeria Director, Osai Ojigho.

The statement said: “It is vital now that they receive adequate physical and psychosocial counselling and support so that they can fully reintegrate in their communities.”

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