Nigerian govt. reveals Buhari’s deal with Boko Haram over Chibok girls

Missing chibok girls
Photo: dailytimes.com.pk
Missing chibok girls Photo: dailytimes.com.pk

Concerned about the fate of the kidnapped Chibok girls, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a prisoner swap with the Boko Haram, barely two months after he was sworn in, an official has said.

The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said on Friday during a press conference that the prisoner swap was agreed to in July 2015, two months after Mr. Buhari was sworn-in on May 29, 2015.

“Precisely on 17th July, 2015, the DSS opened negotiations process with the group holding the Chibok girls,” the minister said.

“However, in return for the release of some of these girls, the group also made some demands. These included the release of some of their fighters arrested including some involved in major terrorist actions, resulting in several fatalities, and others who were experts in manufacture of locally assembled explosives.”

Mr. Mohammed added that, “This was difficult to accept, but appropriate security agencies had to again inform Mr. President of these demands, and its viewed implications.

“Again Mr. President gave his assent believing that the overall release of these girls remains paramount and sacrosanct.”

In his speech distributed to the media, Mr. Mohammed said the swap did not work because the terror group reneged on the agreement and made more demands.

Mr. Mohammed’s statement on Friday is the first detailed explanation by any government official on concrete steps being taken to free the over 200 girls kidnapped from the secondary school in Chibok in April 2014.

The Buhari administration has faced heavy criticisms for its handling of the kidnap as well as its handling of protests asking it to do more to free the girls.

On Friday, Mr. Mohammed reiterated the administration’s commitment to ensure the kidnapped girls are freed.

“The Government and its security agencies remain committed to ensuring that the Chibok girls are safely released in fulfillment of the Presidential mandate,” he said.

Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Read Mr. Mohammed’s full speech below:

Good afternoon, gentlemen of the press.

2. Members of the public may recall that when the present administration came on board, Mr. President pledged to Nigerians to ensure the security of lives and property of every Nigerian, provide employment for the nation’s teeming youths and fight corruption. Since that time, the security agencies have been saddled with the responsibility of dealing with the threat of terrorism which has ravaged most parts of the Northern region.

3. You will also recall that from the physical destruction of communities and strategic institutions, the terrorist elements also engaged in abduction of women and children in the affected parts. Most painful was the abduction of the School girls in Chibok at the twilight of the past administration in 2014. When Mr. President assumed leadership of this country, he immediately directed security agencies to urgently fashion out strategies to trace, locate and ensure the safe and successful release of the Chibok girls. This was the mandate given to security agencies.

4. Gentlemen, it was consequent upon this directive that the security agencies, comprising of the Nigerian Army, Air Force, Navy, Police and the DSS, commenced action in June 2015. To this effect also, the DSS established a special tactical unit to review the gamut of actions so far carried out to secure the release of the Chibok girls, establish why the action has recorded no success as it were and to present a roadmap for possible success.

5. In this process, the DSS and the other security agencies observed the following:

a. Many persons or groups posing as negotiators actually had no veritable intelligence nor the reach to facilitate the release of the Chibok girls;

b. The efforts were clouded by persons with very partisan interests and whose main objective was solely to score cheap political points. It was obvious their approach had no relevance to the release of the girls;

c. Some informants or persons volunteering to be negotiators or facilitators saw and treated the girls’ fate and indeed the situation as a conduit to enrich themselves, thus making the whole thing a pecuniary venture; and

d. As a result of the conflicting and partisan interests, issues were muddled up to the extent that reasonable and fruitful leads either failed or simply came too late for any useful action.

6. It was therefore found that in the midst of these strong competing interests and unnecessary rivalries, nothing was achieved before the 2015 handover date. It was based on these that the security agencies set out to work for the release of the girls.

7. First, there was the need to identify those with relevant intelligence on the groups holding the girls, as well as establish sources of contact in touch with the group. This exercise was found not to be an easy task. On those holding the Chibok girls, there was also a high level of mistrust, as they too found many approaches or groups claiming to be in touch with them as false or unreliable.

Bring Back our girls - time is running out8. In this new bid, many offers ranging from credible, not credible to outright off-mark information came to the Government. Some international bodies and countries also provided leads. It was out of this that relevant security agencies were able to strike a chord. By the third week of July 2015, a contact group was in touch with credible assets who had the reach, and who attested to the fact that some of the Chibok girls were alive. Mr. President was then briefed of these assets and intelligence and he gave his assent for further negotiations on the Chibok girls.

9. Precisely on 17th July, 2015, the DSS opened negotiations process with the group holding the Chibok girls. However, in return for the release of some of these girls, the group also made some demands. These included the release of some of their fighters arrested including some involved in major terrorist actions, resulting in several fatalities, and others who were experts in manufacture of locally assembled explosives. This was difficult to accept, but appropriate security agencies had to again inform Mr. President of these demands, and its viewed implications. Again Mr. President gave his assent believing that the overall release of these girls remains paramount and sacrosanct.

10. Meanwhile, following the above development, Government and the security agencies had sufficient leverage to work out the modalities of the swap. These included creating the safe haven, or necessary place of swap and working out the logistic details. Based on this, the DSS availed other critical sister agencies of this new situation. Immediately, the Nigerian Army and the Air Force sent some specialists to commence a detailed arrangement for the swap. This was during the last week of July 2015 and 1st week of August 2015. The officers representing the various agencies worked out the logistic details, such as the number of persons to be swapped i.e. number of girls and detainees to be exchanged, the vehicles and aircraft, as well as safeguards, i.e. safety of the persons, including the location of the swap.

11. When it was finally agreed by all parties, Mr. President was again informed that the preparations were concluded, and the first step for the swap would commence on 1st August, 2015. Mr. President robustly gave his approval.

12. On 4th August, 2015, the persons who were to be part of the swap arrangements and all others involved in the operation were transported to Maiduguri, Borno State. This team, with the lead facilitator, continued the contact with the group holding the Chibok girls. The Service was able to further prove to the group its sincerity, as it established communication contact between it and its detained members. All things were in place for the swap which was mutually agreed. Expectations were high. Unfortunately, after more than two (2) weeks of negotiation and bargains, the group, just at the dying moments, issued new set of demands, never bargained for or discussed by the group before the movement to Maiduguri. All this while, the security agencies waited patiently. This development stalled what would have been the first release process of the Chibok girls.

13. It may be important to note that in spite of this setback, the government and the security agencies have not relented in the bid to ensure that the Chibok girls are released safely. By the month of November, precisely 13th November, 2015, another fresh negotiation process with the group was initiated. This time, there was the need to discuss a fresh component in other to avoid issues that had stalled the former arrangement. There were however some problems that many may not discern, but should be expected in this kind of situation. Some critical persons within the group who played such vital role in August, 2015 were discovered to be dead during combat action or as a result of the emerging rift amongst members of the group then. These two factors delayed the process. In spite of these, negotiation continued on new modalities.

14. By 30th November, 2015 it was becoming glaring that the division amongst the group was more profound. This affected the swap process. By 10th December, 2015, another negotiation process was in place, but this failed to achieve results because of the varying demands by the group.

15. Gentlemen of the press, the security agencies since the beginning of 2016 have not only remained committed but have also taken the lead to resolve the Chibok girls’ issue. In spite of the current division amongst members of the terrorist group, which has seriously affected efforts to release the girls, renewed efforts have commenced using our trusted assets and facilitators. However, this job requires diligence and ability to deal with a group that can easily change its demands without notice.

16. Officers and men have sacrificed their time and energy, and some have already paid the supreme price since the abduction of the Chibok girls, fighting for the safe release of the girls. Many friendly countries and organizations have equally been very forthcoming in providing their human and technological resources to assist in the process. They are still doing so. We cannot as a nation ignore these sacrifices.

17. The Government and its security agencies remain committed to ensuring that the Chibok girls are safely released in fulfillment of the Presidential mandate. Let me emphasise that Government appreciates the resilience of Nigerians in the fight against insurgency and terrorism, and will continue to call on fellow Nigerians to hold that much is ahead and therefore support Mr. President’s resolve on this matter. I cannot end this without appealing to the parents and relatives of the Chibok girls. We are with you; we feel your pains and shall not relent until we succeed in bringing home our girls and every other citizen abducted by the group. It is important to appeal to all those who have shown concern in resolving this matter to continue to trust the efforts of Government to deal with the situation.

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • evidence

    Una never talk true…

    • Tommy

      So where r d girls now?

      This people to dey talk with nothing to show for it

      • evidence

        What girls?! ‎
        Even America that smoked out bin Laden can’t locate the so called Chibok girls. 
        The truth is yet to be told…‎

        • share Idea

          My gee don’t mind the gullible. This administration have been criticising last administration for negotiating with wrong people but no have effrontory to claim that they have released so many detained BH members without letting the public know.

          I told people that the level of fraud and corruption going on in this administration is mind-boggling, the problem is that they are not letting the public know. This administration planned to released the people they participated in abducting but have been having problem effecting the drama without exposing their track.

          Remember the reported found person that was abducted and when more questions were asked, they stopped that line of story. Nigeria qe hail thee

  • Nonameman

    Lai Muhammed has lied again because………

    “The president (Buhari) told us directly at the meeting that he had no
    credible intelligence on the missing Chibok girls. He said he is somebody who
    does not lie. And he will not start by lying. And he said it (abduction of the Chibok girls)
    happened during the last administration. I find it very worrisome. I remember one of the
    parents asked what he (Buhari) meant by saying it happened in the last administration.

    Does it mean the girls will not be rescued? I would like the president to know that there is
    no vacuum in government. That it happened during the last administration is not
    an excuse. It is duty of the Nigerian government to ensure that the Chibok
    girls are rescued.”

    …………Aisha Yesufu

    (Leader Bring Back Our Girls)

    [January 14, 2016]

  • jola koleosho

    LAI MUHAMED IS TELLING NIGERIANS THAT PRESIDENT BUHARI HAD CLEAR KNOWLEDGE
    OF THE WHEREABOUTS OF CHIBOK GIRLS AND THAT BUHARI APPROVED A SWAP DEAL
    SINCE JUNE 2015, WHICH MEANS PRESIDENT BUHARI WAS JUST TELLING LIES HE DIDN’t
    KNOW CHIBOK GIRLS’ WHEREABOUTS – DIRECTLY OR THROUGH ANY AGENT OR ASSET.
    BUT IF NOT, PRESIDENT BUHARI COULD NOT HAVE MOVED PRISONERS OUT FOR SWAP.

  • thusspokez

    Has Buhari not yet realised that Lai has become a liability to his administration as he [Lai Mohammed] has lost all credibility with most Nigerians?

    No one believes Lai Mohammed anymore even when he might be telling the truth, because he is now seen by most people as Buhari’s own ‘Joseph Goebbels’ or ‘Minister of Propaganda’. If the government wanted people to believe the story, it makes one wonder why the SSS or spokesperson for the president had not been given the task of delivering this story instead of the Minister of Propaganda.

    I should take the story with a pinch of salt because of the source, namely, Lai Mohammed; and I look forward to boko haram’s own version of the story.

    • utolason

      Speak for yourself and be mature enough not to make silly sweeping generalisation base simply on your infantile view. I believe every version in the paragraph in Laid Mohammed press briefing.

    • vagabonds in power

      No amount of propaganda and lies from the Sultan of Sokoto the Defacto President of Nigeria–from the Fulani Emirate— will ever exonerate the culpability of the Fulanis in the Boko haram war——-A war that has led to the murder of over 100,000 Native Nigerians—Yet Buhari has already freed more than 3,000 of them–while he goes about lying about how Jonathan stole 400 trillion from the oil wells owned by the Fulanis—Sadly–these Islamic Jihadist from Mali and Sudan are the same killers the Fulanis—Yorubas — Ibos and their Itsekiri and Urhobo surrogates in APC –urge Bingo Buhari never to negotiate with Ijaw Militants in the Niger Delta——-The truth of the matter is that Buhari has already ordered the release of Kabiru Sokoto–the Fulani Boko Haram fighter who killed more than 200 Ibos in a Catholic Church on Christmas day while Mumu MEND led by Okah that supported Buhari during the elections—–against—–Jonathan their Ijaw brother–remains in the custody of Buhari-ati–Kanu the IPOB—-leader remains——–who is now in the gulag-of the Fulanis and Yorubas—Separation is the only way out–for the Ijaw Nation————-

    • Otunba

      My friend, do not waste your precious time listening to this crooked lies, it is dead on arrival! They feel because Buhari is being battered from refusing to give audience to #BBOG, their alies in deceit, then, Lie Mohammed must manufacture something that explains away their long term deceit about the whole episode.

  • vagabonds in power

    No amount of propaganda and lies from the Sultan of Sokoto the De-facto President of Nigeria–from the Fulani Emirate— will ever exonerate the culpability of the Fulanis in the Boko haram war——-A war that has led to the murder of over 100,000 Native Nigerians—Yet Buhari has already freed more than 3,000 of them–while he goes about lying about how Jonathan stole 400 trillion from the oil wells owned by the Fulanis–and Yorubas arti their Ibo errand boys in APC———Sadly–these Islamic Jihadist from Mali and Sudan are the same killers the Fulanis—Yorubas -ati Ibos and their Itsekiri and Urhobo surrogates in APC –urge Bingo Buhari never to negotiate with Ijaw Militants in the Niger Delta——-The truth of the matter is that Buhari has already ordered the release of Kabiru Sokoto–the Fulani Boko Haram fighter who killed more than 200 Ibos in a Catholic Church on Christmas day while Mumu MEND led by Okah that supported Buhari during the elections—–against—–Jonathan their Ijaw brother–remains in the custody of Buhari-ati–Kanu the IPOB—-leader remains——–who is now in the gulag-of the Fulanis and Yorubas—Separation is the only way out–for the Ijaw Nation———————————–

  • Omo O’oodua

    LAI MUHAMED WILL MAKE A GOOD TEAM WITH BABA SUWE IN YORUBA FILM

    THAN WASTE HIS NATURAL TALENTS AS A MINISTER FOR MISINFORMATION.

    • excel

      Can you listen to yourself? Stop using your anus to reason.

  • excel

    Great job HMIC, the safety and release of the chibok girl’s is no doubt paramount to this government. The protester should be patient with the government as negotiations with a terror group like boko haram is not a child play. And they shouldn’t expect the government to release valuable intelligence to them as it is not right and will always set back the progress and effort to secure the release of this girl.

  • NinjaK

    Lai The Certified Liar!