Finally, Boko Haram Agrees to Free 219 Chibok Girls in Exchange for 18 Key Members Imprisoned
For the past few months, Nigerians have been inundated with reports that the Nigerian Government and the Boko Haram sect have reached agreement to swap the 219 Chibok girls kidnapped in April with some members of the Boko Haram sect imprisoned by the govt, but none of it has come to pass.
While there are evidences that there were actually negotiations from the two parties, the agreements have failed due largely to the lack of trust between them.
The closest the government has gone to releasing the Chibok girls was sometimes in May when President Jonathan reportedly Canceled last minute deal to free the girls.
Latest development however suggest that Boko Haram has agreed to release the abducted 219 Chibok girls if the Federal Government will simultaneously set free its 18 key commanders.
The decision of the sect was said to have been reached after much persuasions from intermediaries between them and the govt.
The Nation reports that the two parties have asked their representatives to go back to their leaders on the new swap deal proposal.
Prior to the latest agreement at the talks in Abuja, which was witnessed by some officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC), Boko Haram had insisted on a piecemeal release of the girls, with priority given to 30 married Christians among them.
The Federal Government also offered to release six of the 18 sect leaders in detention.
The two sides maintained a parallel stand until they met again in Abuja at a session facilitated by the President, Civil Rights Congress (CRC), Comrade Shehu Sani.
The sect said if the government attempted to secure the girls by force, it might lead to fatalities.
At the meeting, Boko Haram also maintained that it had the capacity to “engage the Federal Government for 45 years”.
It said the outcome of the talks would determine the end of the insurgency.
Some of those at the talks gave insights into the new dimension to the moves to free the Chibok girls, who were abducted from their hostel on April 15.
It was gathered that the session was attended by ICRC officials.
One of those who attended said: “The sect shifted its position and agreed to release all the girls instead of 30 Christian married girls it had promised. But Boko Haram said it does not trust the government going by previous experience.
“If the government had respected previous talks, the Chibok girls were initially meant to be off the hook during the Eid-el Fitr festival. Again about two weeks ago, a delegation was already in Maiduguri until the swap deal was bungled.
“Some security agents only advised on the release of six out of the 18 leaders of the sect. They rated the rest 12 as dangerous.
“When the insurgents found out, they backtracked and demanded the release of the 18 leaders. The development paved the way for the latest talks in Abuja which involved the ICRC.”
“By the new arrangement, ICRC will pick up the girls and simultaneously hand over the detained 18 leaders to Boko Haram.
“The government also said it would not free the detained leaders of Boko Haram until all the girls were released.
Asked what was eventually agreed upon, another source at the session said: “We generally agreed that all the parties should go back to their leaders on the agreement reached. The government said no to piecemeal release of the girls and Boko Haram claimed that it will not have any business with the government until all the 18 leaders of the sect are freed.
“After the Eid-el-Kabir festival, the two parties will meet again on the terms to finalise the agreement or part ways.
“Before the meeting rose, Boko Haram representatives warned against the use of force to liberate the girls. It also made it clear that it had the “capacity to take on the Federal Government for the next 45 years.”
Responding to a question on whether the sect will end the insurgency or not, another source said: “The delegation from Boko Haram said the outcome of the latest round of talks will determine whether they should ceasefire or not.”
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