Chibok girls: PDP faults prisoner swap deal

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (C) sitting among the 82 rescued Chibok girls during a reception ceremony at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, on May 7, 2017. PHOTO: TWITTER/BASHIR AHMAD

A faction of Nigeria’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi Sunday criticised the prisoner swap deal that led to the release of another 82 Chibok girls on Saturday.

The Nigerian government said in a statement that it exchanged Boko Haram suspects being held for the girls but did not reveal their identities nor the number of the suspects freed. AFP, however, reported that three senior members of the terror group, all of whom were Chad nationals were released.

Though it described the release of the 82 girls “as a welcome development,” the PDP under whose government about 276 Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok students were kidnapped from their hostel on April 14, 2014, said it was concerned about the “unusual price” paid to “secure the release of the girls.”

“We recognise the concern of President Buhari to ensure the earliest release of the Chibok girls for domestic and international consideration,” said Dayo Adeyeye, PDP’s National Working Committee’s spokesman. “But we disagree that negotiating with the terrorists is the right approach to achieving the objective.”

Adeyeye said “the suspected terrorists by this release have escaped justice,” adding that “all the effort made by security agencies to bring them to book has come to nothing.”

He noted that “the negotiations are in clear violation and indeed a direct assault on the generally accepted international principle never to negotiate with terrorists.”

President Buhari has not hidden his willingness to “bend over backwards” to secure the release of the girls. On the third anniversary of their kidnap, he said his government had engaged local and international intermediaries in reaching out to members of Boko Haram for the safe release of the Chibok girls.

“Like I have repeatedly said, the Federal Government is willing to bend over backwards to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls,” he said at the time.

“We have reached out to their captors through local and international intermediaries, and we are ever ready to do everything within our means to ensure the safe release of all the girls.”

About 276 female students were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School on April 14, 2014. Fifty-seven of the girls escaped while being taken away while three others were found or rescued by the military.

Twenty-one of them were freed on October 13, 2016, after the Swiss government and the International Committee of the Red Cross brokered a deal between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.



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