FG Ready To Negotiate With Boko Haram, Says Lai Mohammed

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has disclosed that the Federal Government is willing to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgents if it would guarantee the release of the Chibok girls who had been abducted for two years now.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed,
yesterday, reiterated government’s commitment to rescue the school girls
abducted by terrorists.
Mohammed’s statements came a week after the Boko Haram
released a video, where its leader, Abubakar Shekau threatened to attack more
cities and vowed not to release the Chibok girls until his group’s members in
detention are released.
Mohammed spoke on Saturday, October 01, 2016 on a live program on Channels
Television on Independence titled “Nigeria at 56: Recursive, Resilient,
Rising.”
He said no group, local or international, could claim to
have more stake or to be more committed to the rescue of the girls than the
federal government.
He added that the issue of the rescue of the girls was a
humanitarian one that everyone or group should be “passionate, but rational
about”.
The minister said contrary to the position of some critics,
government had robust counter-terrorism policy and had recorded significance
success in fighting Boko Haram in the North-East.
He noted that the fact that the Chibok girls were yet to be
rescued should not be a yardstick to write off the achievements of government
in decimating the Boko Haram.
Mohammed recalled that upon assumption of President
Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, many parts of the North-East were under the
control of the Boko Haram and were not safe and accessible.
He said the situation “is not the same today as no part of
the North-East region is under the control of the group.”
“The North-East is free now, students are returning to
schools, all the towns and communities, hitherto, under the control of the
terrorists have been liberated and those who fled their homes are gradually
returning,” he said.
The minister also recalled that when the Buhari
administration assumed power, it was 410 days after the Chibok girls were
abducted without any effort to rescue them by the previous government.
He noted that in all cases of abduction, especially by
terrorists, 24 hours was critical to ensuring prompt rescue. He added that the
government in power then did not utilise the intelligence.
The minister said the present administration had thrice
established links with the Boko Haram for the exchange of the abducted girls
with the arrested members of the terrorist group.
He explained that on each occasion, the efforts were
thwarted by either the link with the terrorist, fresh demands by Boko Haram or
division in the camp of the terrorist group.
Mohammed said government had not foreclosed negotiation with
the group on the release of the girls, but, it wanted to ensure that the link
were genuine and credible.
He said government appreciated the efforts of the “Bring
Back Our Girls” (BBOG) group, but noted “the administration is as concerned as
they are and ready to work with them in ensuring the release of the girls.”
Oby Ezekwesili, one of the leaders of the BBOG, reiterated
the position of the minister that 24 hours was critical in ensuring success or
failure in cases of abduction by terrorists and added that the past
administration failed in that regard.
Ezekwesili, however, said the BBOG group was disappointed
that more than 900 days after the girls’ abduction, there was no tangible
evidence or convincing plans by government on their release.
She said the group resumed its agitation with vigor to
canvass citizens engagement in the release of the girls and ensure that
government did not stay away from the parents of the girls.

She underscored the need for government to carry along the
group in its rescue efforts and be consistent in its messages and briefings.
The former minister pledged the support of the group to the government in
ensuring a safe rescue of the abducted girls. 

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