President Muhammadu Buhari approved the payment of €3 million (N1,279,050,000) to the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram in exchange for the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, the Wall Street Journal reports.
According to news accounts, 276 girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state.by the terrorists in April 2014 under suspicious circumstances indicating the involvement of the Borno State Governor Ibrahim Shettima.
Days after their abduction, 57 of the girls escaped from the terrorists. One of them, Amina, wondered out of Sambia Forest with a child two years after. 103 were swapped for €3 million and five deadly Boko Haram commanders by the Muhammadu Buhari government.
The first set of 21 Chibok girls were freed in October 2016 after the payment of €1 million and another 82 girls were released in May, 2017 after a second payment of €2 million to Boko Haram. According to the detailed report, the 2nd batch of of ransom payment included a prisoner exchange for five deadly Boko Haram commander.
Ahmad Salkida, a journalist known to have links with the sect, and Zannah Mustapha, a lawyer, were said to be key mediators involved in both deals.
After months of talks involving Salkida and Mustapha, a breakthrough was finally reached when in late 2016, both parties agreed on a plan concerning the girls’ freedom.
WSJ said: “The plan called for two exchanges. In the first one, Boko Haram would free 20 Chibok hostages in exchange for one million euros.
“If both sides were satisfied with the outcome, the rest of the girls who wanted to come home would be swapped in a second exchange in return for two million euros and five imprisoned Boko Haram commanders.”
“As Mustapha worked through the details and tried to maintain the confidence of both sides, the Nigerian government began the delicate process of finding prisoners Shekau would deem acceptable.
“Salkida was the man picked for the task. He began to crisscross Nigeria combing jails and interviewing inmates, looking for militants who fit the profile.”
The report added that while the deal began coming together, there were fears that President Muhammadu Buhari might not approve of it.
“The president was eager for a victory. He also loathed the idea of paying Boko Haram. No one knew if he would sign off,” it said.
“In the end, he approved the deal, with a condition: He insisted that any money that reached Boko Haram would be a step toward a comprehensive peace agreement.
“Since the insurgents collected their three million euros, some Nigerian officials say an army that had struggled to feed itself seems replenished.”