Nigeria government denies paying ransom to free Chibok girls

FILE PHOTO: FPresident Muhammadu Buhari meets with released Chibok girls
FILE PHOTO: FPresident Muhammadu Buhari meets with released Chibok girls

The presidency has denied that the government paid ransom to free the 21 Chibok girls released by Boko Haram last month.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Mr. Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the government has “no such money under any allocation to pay out this outrageous sum of money as ransom.”

The presidency’s reaction comes a few hours after the Nigerian military issued a similar rebuttal to media reports that $21 million ransom was paid.

The 21 girls were among the over 200 kidnapped by the Boko Haram in April 2014. The others are still being held by the terrorists whose insurgency has caused the death of over 20,000 people and displacement of millions of others since 2009.

Mr. Shehu also used to statement to highlight the administration’s successes against Boko Haram.

“As at the time he came into power, Boko Haram occupied 80 per cent of Borno State, 40 per cent of Yobe, and a significant segment of Adamawa,” he said.

Read Mr. Shehu’s full statement below:

Over the past few days, some newspaper reports ascribing the recent terrorist attacks in Borno State to the government’s negotiation of the release of 21 Chibok girls, with a particular report alleging the exchange of USD 21 million for the girls are false and should be disregarded by members of the public. This loose talk is journalism at its most irresponsible and its most dismaying.

As a responsible government that is run on the basis of the constitution and budgets duly appropriated by the National Assembly, we have no such money under any allocation to pay out this outrageous sum of money as ransom.

Beyond the call of journalism, the newspaper making this charge has a national duty to point how and where this money was paid, and to supply leads as to where the “powerful weapons” were bought by the terrorists.

From the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the media, local and international groups, have persistently pressured the government to do everything possible to facilitate the release of the Chibok girls. During the election campaigns, President Buhari himself expressed commitment to this and also to bringing an end to terrorism in our country. We then wonder why anyone is turning the defeat of terror and return of the missing persons against the government.

As at the time he came into power, Boko Haram occupied 80 percent of Borno State, 40 percent of Yobe, and a significant segment of Adamawa. Today, the group does not control any territory. The government also has successfully enabled the release of 23 Chibok girls, while negotiations for the release of more, possibly all the rest, are in progress.

The successes recorded by the government in the fight against terrorism have been a result of collaboration between our country’s various security agencies, particularly the Department of State Services, the Police, the Civil Defence, Air Force, the Navy and the Army. Representatives from these arms of our security agencies were also involved in the process of the release of the 21 Chibok girls. It is, therefore, unfair and reckless of any medium to quote unnamed, allegedly disgruntled sources within the military, who now claim that the girls’ release has reinvigorated Boko Haram.

Boko Haram operated freely before the Buhari administration came into power, before they had the Chibok girls and after the girls were abducted from their school. Therefore, whatever the group relies on for strength cannot suddenly be ascribed to the conditions of the negotiations brokered by the local interlocutor, the Swiss government and help from them the International Red Cross, ICRC.

May I humbly, once again appeal to the Nigerian media to continue their unflinching support to the military and other security agencies as they fight to free our country from terrorism. Terrorism and insurgencies remain the biggest threat to Nigeria’s security, economy and national development. The war against terrorism is a matter of life and death, not a marketing tool for selling more newspapers or increasing traffic to websites.

The President has utmost confidence in the nation’s media and urges them to do more to assist and augment the nation’s internal security.


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  • vagabonds in power

    These girls are not the politically arranged Chibiok girls———–for the army is yet to give us one reason why the so–called fake chibok girls were released by Boko haram Fulani fighters———It is unthinkable for boko haram to free the Chibok girls and then kill 20 Nigerian soldiers just days later—————–Again is this not the same army that told the world they were not involved in the release of the girls-?–Tell us the local government areas in Borno state—where the fake girls were released———-The name of the village and those who received them on behalf of the dying government of Bingo Buhari–

  • Mayo

    Garba Shehu should stop telling blatant lies and it is shocking that Premium Times did not rebut him in this article. How can Garba Shehu claim Borko Haram was occupying 80% of Borno State and yet we had elections in all the local goverments of Borno state?

    • Hamza

      Remember there was a special arrangement by INEC with the people in maiduguri and other safer areas. No election in Gwoza and other boko haram “caliphates”. Go and visit your archives

      • James Ojapa

        What special arrangement? Blatant lies

      • sab

        Hamza, I can now see that Shehu Garba’s e-employees are many. Since the conduct of the 2015 elections, has any community ever come out to say election was not held in their area? The results declared in Borno and Yobe were same as registered voters and as well equal to the number of PVC delivered to those areas. Please, maybe Shehu and his propaganda agents are trying to tell us that the results declared in those states came from the moon. Otherwise, how can Boko Haram hold 80% of Borno and yet election was said to have been held in all Borno State and results declared showed it came from all Borno. Please enough of this propaganda thing, let’s face the business of governance, after all, the elections have come and gone.

      • Mayo

        Please, stop telling blatant lies. Your statement is as bad as that of Garba Shehu. Special arrangement indeed..

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  • Iskacountryman

    no ransom was paid…shekau takes instructions from aso rock…

  • George

    Nothing Bingo Buhari will not vomit.

    Tinubu are you happy now with this present day calamity you brought upon Nigerian masses.

    • Olatubosun

      Why are you talking trash

    • Julius

      As usual, you are a moron.I’ll leave it at that.

    • front man

      Trash

  • share Idea

    When I wrote some days ago that the more this administration tries to extricate themselves from BH action, the more they implicate themselves. With all the information in this news article, is it not obvious that this administration is the political wing of BH. Nigeria we hail thee

  • Olatubosun

    Our president is a Messiah that God sent to us..
    Thank you my president

  • Olatubosun

    God bless my president

  • Dan More

    It’s plainly inconceivable that such a deadly terrorist group would release these girls for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in return, neither ransom nor exchange of Boko Haram Commanders. The Government’s position is simply unconvincing. The Chibok girls are Boko Haram’s most prized possessions. No right thinking person would believe that they could be released for free. The Government is better off coming up with a more believable story otherwise Nigerians would continue to believe their instincts. The Bako Haram remain active in their war against the government and the people. Nothing has changed except perhaps the geographical spread and frequency of the attacks. In the midst of all that, not that they were vanquished, for them to release these girls for NOTHING IN EXHANGE is IMPOSSIBLE!

    • Julius

      Maybe other entities took care of it for the FGN. Thats how most government does that for deniability sake.

  • front man

    Haters of this present administration will definitely come out to criticize any good job done by pmb and his cabinets

  • front man

    God bless Nigeria