Chibok Girls And Growing Calls  For Negotiation | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Chibok Girls And Growing Calls  For Negotiation

boko haram
Posted: Apr 17, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Temidayo Akinsuyi, Lagos

Following the broadcast of the proof of life video showing 15 of the abducted Chibok girls by US cable news network, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture said said the Federal Government is currently in talks with Boko Haram sect in its bid to secure the release of the Chibok school girls.

According to Mohammed who spoke to CNN, the details of the conversation will not be disclosed in order not to endanger the negotiations adding that the new video showed that there had been “little transformation in their (Chibok girls) physical appearance”.
“There are ongoing talks. We cannot ignore leads but of course many of these investigations cannot be disclosed openly because it could also endanger the negotiations,” CNN quoted him as saying.
“Let them bring all the girls and then, we will be prepared to negotiate, I will allow them to come back to Nigeria or to be absolved in the community,” he had said during a visit to France in September.
“We have to be very careful, the concern we have for the Chibok girls, one only imagine if they got a daughter there between 14 and 18 and for more than one and a half years, a lot of the parents who have died would rather see the graves of their daughters rather than the condition they imagine they are in.
“This has drawn a lot of sympathy though out the world, that is why this government is getting very hard in negotiating and getting the balance of those who are alive. They wanted us to release one of their leaders who is a strategic person in developing and making Improvised IEDs that is causing a lot of havoc in the country by blowing people in Churches, Mosque, market places, motor parks and other places. But it is very important that if we are going to talk to anybody, we have to know how much he is worth.”
The minister’s position was also shared by the  senator representing Kaduna Central and former negotiator on the release of 219 Chibok girls abducted by the Boko Haram, Shehu Sani, who says the Islamic group had no option but to agree to the negotiation on the release of the schoolgirls

Sani, who also spoke with CNN, said the terrorists had lost the ground to the military since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office and advised the insurgents to embrace dialogue.
According to him, impostors among some of the negotiators had been a challenge inhibiting a breakthrough and suggested that the source that facilitated the release of the video should be engaged by the government in the negotiation with the sect.
He said, “Negotiation will make it possible for these girls to be brought back home alive. What has always been the problem in the last few years has been the very fact there are scam negotiators, who most times make claims and don’t deliver. And I think this is what we must be very careful of at this time. The very fact that we can get such a credible video from some sources and those sources are elements that need to be utilised to be able to achieve the goal of getting these girls out.
“When President Muhammadu Buhari took over, a section of our country was taken over by the insurgence group. They hosted their flags and even unleashed their version of theocratic Islamic group. But now, with funding for the military and support by the government, the morale is high, the military had been able to push them back and most of the cities in the North-East are safe. Buhari has not been able to achieve 100 per cent success but he has made serious progress. I believe he can still achieve more. With the very fact that now, they know clearly they cannot win militarily and the only option is to go for other ways. There is no other way other than for them to agree to negotiate on the release of these

In her reaction, a public affairs analyst and former spokesperson for the Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), Barrister Nkechi Chukwueke,  said the issue of the  Chibok  girls might have been a forgotten issue if the federal government had listened to the voices of concerned Nigerians who had called for negotiation with the abductors shortly after the girls were taken hostage.

Speaking in  a chat with Independent, the chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said now that the video has surfaced showing that the girls is alive, the  federal government must do all it can to ensure the prompt release of the girls.

“It is unfortunate that as Nigerians, we are not proactive. I remembered a month after the abduction of the Chibok girls, the Boko Haram insurgents made an offer that they should be paid certain amount and the girls will be released. There was argument among Nigerians then on whether the federal government under former president Goodluck Jonathan should accept or reject the offer”.

“Many Nigerians said the government should not accept the offer claiming that if the FG should compromise and yield to the demand, the insurgents will keep asking for more ransom”.
“But I said no. I said whatever the government has to do to facilitate the rescue of the girls must be done.   I said the girls must be rescued first. Then, the government can use the facilitators of the negotiation or other means to arrest the insurgents. But the advice was ignored”.

“Why should the girls be the ones to pay for the sins of the elite or the government?  Why should we continue to make the girls and their families suffer?”

“Now, two years after, it is the same story.  Now , they are talking about negotiating for the release of the girls. If they had done what I and other well-meaning Nigerians advised then, by now, this issue would have been a thing of the past” she said.

Lending his voice, another lawyer, Dele Akorede said the only option available for the federal government now is to negotiate the release of the girls, if the insurgents are willing.

“ The federal government should drop its ego and hard stance. I am glad the minister said the president is willing to negotiate. That to me, is the only way forward. The use of threats or force has completely failed” he said.