A UN report submitted to its security council, though no specific amount was quoted, revealed that the government paid ransom for the release of the girls
• No money was paid, says Lai Mohammed
Chinelo Obogo and Paul Aidoghie, Abuja
Contrary to claims, the Federal Government paid ransom for the release of the schoolgirls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Dapchi, Yobe State on February 19, 2018, the United Nations Security Council has revealed.
In March 2018 after the girls were released, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed had told State House correspondents that no money was paid for the release of the schoolgirls nor was there a prisoner swap, while refuting leaked media reports that government paid the terrorists five million euros for the release.
He had told reporters that the girls who were freed were released unconditionally and the government did not pay any ransom to the terrorists neither was there any prison swap.
“No money changed hands.” He said the only condition given by the terrorists was that they would return the girls to where they picked them.
But in a recent UN report submitted to its security council, though no specific amount was quoted, it was revealed that the government paid ransom for the release of the girls, noting that such payout was partly responsible for the sustenance of Boko Haram and other terrorist organisations in Africa. However, the Federal Government insisted that it did not pay any ransom to secure the freedom of the girls.
Alhaji Mohammed, in a statement by his media aide challenged anyone with any evidence of payment to publish it.
‘’It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge. There must be a conclusive evidence to support such claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” he said.
The UN report which was sourced from its official website/ undocs.org/S/2018/705, is titled, “22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team”, related to Resolution 23689 (2017) regarding “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL – (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities.”
Part of the report signed by Edmund Fitton-Brown, Coordinator, Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team and Kairat Umarov, Chair, Security Council Committee stated: “Boko Haram (QDe.138) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have had impact in their areas of control, including the Lake Chad basin. The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.
“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment. Extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping is parts of ways Boko haram is funded. The number of doctrinally based non-governmental organisations sending funds to local terrorist groups was growing and member states were concerned that radicalisation was increasing the threat level in the Sahel.
“The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.”
Nigerians were incredulous when it was confirmed that Boko Haram kidnapped 110 schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old and one boy from Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi, Yobe State into a waiting truck and driven off.
The incident was similar to the abduction of over 200 school girls from Chibok, Maiduguri in 2014 during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
In the case of Dapchi, there were media reports that the Nigerian Army had withdrawn its troops a week earlier from Dapchi, an action many said offered Boko Haram the opening to attack the town and abduct the girls. The Army responded by saying it withdrew the troops because the town appeared safe and secure.
Residents of Dapchi said the terrorists dressed in military camouflage came in two four-wheel drive vehicles painted in military color.Theyreportedlyfired shotsintotheairtocreatean atmostphere of confusion, which made the students run out. Thereafter, they beckoned on the fleeing students to come, pretending to be helpers, the same ploy the terrorists used in the abduction of Chibok girls.
In March, 2018, 105 of them were freed by the terrorists who dropped them off in Dapchi without any restraints or confrontation by soldiers. Five of the abducted girls were said to have died in captivity while one of them, Leah Sharibu is still being held because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.