A United Kingdom (UK) daily publication has reported that President Goodluck Jonathan nearly struck a deal with members of the Boko Haram sect for the release of the over 200 students abducted from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok, Borno State.
The Daily Mail reported that the president backed out of the deal after his counterparts warned him of the dangers of such move at the recent summit in Paris, France. According to them, the girls could be rescued by a combined local and foreign security forces effort.
The information ministry had earlier said that all options were being considered, after Boko Haram released a video of the abducted girls earlier this month and demanded the release of their imprisoned members in exchange for the girls.
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Leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, had agreed to bring the girls out from the forest to a safe location for the swap.
According to the Daily Mail, an intelligence source said, “They would have been dropped off in a village, one group at a time and left there while their kidnappers disappear. There was to be a signal to a mediator at another location to bring in the prisoners.”
The intermediary, according to the paper’s report, has unprecedented access to the militants; he was able to travel to the group’s forest camp to talk to Shekau as the only person that has free access to the sect’s leader. He was invited to help save the government further embarrassment occasioned by the abduction of the schoolgirls that led to the persistent worldwide #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
“His mission was secretive and dangerous. He is probably the only civilian with access to Shekau. There is trust between them and the fanatic who had only an aim – to get the schoolgirls out of the Boko Haram’s den and federal government to release the prisoners. He reported afterwards that the group of girls he saw were alive and well and being adequately fed and sheltered. They told him all they wanted was to go home,” the Mail reported.
It was reported that the move to swap the schoolgirls with Boko Haram prisoners was cancelled by the federal government at the last minute.