West & Central Africa

Nigerian Government tried twice to swap Chibok Girls with Boko Haram Militants

Nigeria’s Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, in a press conference Friday said the Nigerian government had tried twice to swap the Chibok Girls with Boko Haram militants but the negotiations failed.

Lai Mohammed
Lai Mohammed Information Minister

The Minister explained that President Buhari was ready to swap the girls even with “some of their fighters arrested including some involved in major terrorist actions, resulting in several fatalities, and others who were experts in manufacture of locally assembled explosives.”

He added: “Mr. President gave his assent believing that the overall release of these girls remains paramount and sacrosanct.” But the first attempt, in July 2015, baulked when Boko Haram made additional demands, which the Minister did not specify. At the second attempt in November 2015, “it was becoming glaring that the division amongst the group was more profound. This affected the swap process.”

The division in the group became even more evident when Abu Musab al-Barnawi – the son of Mohammed Yusuf founder of Boko Haram – was installed by so-called Islamic State.

The Information Minister says despite the set back, “renewed efforts have commenced using our trusted assets and facilitators,” to continue with the efforts to negotiate with the terrorist group.