President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that the Federal Government was now formally into negotiations with the Boko Haram sect with a view to primarily securing the release of the over 200 school girls abducted by from Chibok, Borno state over a year ago.
Fielding questions from the Nigerian community in France, Tuesday, where the he is expected to return, Wednesday, from a three-day state visit, President Buhari disclosed that the government has commenced negotiations with the Boko Haram insurgents.
Responding to questions by the Nigerian community who had converged under the umbrella body of the Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), President Buhari said his administration was spurred by the captivity of the girls at the hands of their abductors and assured that his administration was ‘working tirelessly to get them released.’
“The issue of Chibok girls has occupied our minds and because of the international attention it drew and the sympathy throughout the country and the world, the government is negotiating with some of the Boko Haram leadership,” he said.
“It is a very sensitive development in the sense that; first, we have to establish; are they genuine leaders of the Boko Haram? That is number one. Number two, what are their terms? The first impression we had was not very encouraging,” he further stated
The President said one of the conditions given by the group was to release one of its members who had been strategic in developing Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs), a demand that the government would not accept.
“They wanted us to release one of their leaders who is a strategic person in developing and making IEDs that is causing a lot of havoc in the country by blowing people in churches, mosques, 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.
“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 absorbed in the community. We have to be very careful, the concern we have for the Chibok girls, one can 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.”
President Buhari assured the Nigerian community that his administration was doing everything possible to improve on the state of the economy through provision of infrastructure in critical sectors.
It would be recalled that Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, had in July this year disclosed the willingness of government to engage the sect if they were ready.