news

Chibok parents beg Buhari to pay more ransom for other girls

By  | 

•FG paid B’Haram €2m ransom for 82 girls –BBC •It’s not true –Govt

Eniola Akinkuotu,  ARUKAINO UMUKORO, BAYO AKINLOYE and OLALEYE ALUKO

Chibok parents on Saturday night called on President Muhammadu Buhari to pay additional ransom so that other girls still being held by Boko Haram could be released.

They made the appeal following a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation that the Federal Government had to cough up at least €2m to get the 82 girls released. The parents who spoke with SUNDAY PUNCH said money should not be a problem with the government in rescuing the remaining girls.

According to them, no amount of money will be too much to give Boko Haram in exchange for the girls.

One of the Chibok girls’ parent, whose two daughters have yet to be rescued, Rev. Enoch Mark, said, “The government should do anything they can to bring back our daughters – even if it means they have to pay to get them back. My daughters are not among the rescued girls.”

Another parent, Yana Galang, said, “I am still in Abuja. My daughter is not among them. The government should assist us and secure the release of more girls by all means. We are happy. We are grateful for their efforts so far.”

Secretary of the Chibok Girls’ Parents’ Association, Mr. Zanna Lawan, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the Chibok community did not have the prerogative to tell the Federal Government how to rescue the remaining Chibok girls, paying more ransom wasn’t out of place.

Lawan said, “We thank the Federal Government and the military. We also want to beg the government of President Muhammadu Buhari that if it is money that will bring back our remaining girls, they should use it to free them from Boko Haram custody.”

Yakubu Mutah, whose daughter is still among those held by the terrorist group, told one of our correspondents that he was certain the Federal Government would do the needful.

He stated, “We cannot force the government to pay for the release of the remaining girls. We can only beg them to use all the resources in their possession to bring back our girls, be it money or any other thing.”

For Goni Mutah Pana, whose daughter is among those recently released by Boko Haram, the Buhari administration should stop at nothing to get other girls back.

Another Chibok parent, who begged not to be named, said she does not care what the federal government does to ensure the release of the rest Chibok girls, as long as she would see her daughter again. “If it was one of their daughters that was kidnapped, will they be asking about what needs to be done? All I want is to have my daughter back,” the distraught mother said.

Nigeria pay €2m for Chibok girls release – Report

Apart from handing over five prominent terrorists to Boko Haram in exchange for the release of 82 Chibok girls recently, €2m was also paid to the terrorist group, the British Broadcasting Corporation reports.

President Muhammadu Buhari was alleged to have been reluctant in approving the disbursement of the money.

According to the BBC, the money paid in cash was handed over to the insurgents in exchange for the release of the girls.

The report noted that the five senior Boko Haram militants were bomb-makers.

It noted further that it took a lot of convincing to get Buhari to approve the money.

“It should have happened sooner, but the President was hesitating about freeing the five (commanders) – and especially about the money,” the BBC quoted a source with detailed knowledge of the deal, as saying.

“The issue of the money was the most difficult part of the whole negotiation. He didn’t want to pay any money. The ransom was €2m. Boko Haram asked for euros. They chose the suspects and gave us the list of girls who would be freed,” the source added.

The online medium noted that the claim could not be independently verified.

The report added that though there were setbacks during the negotiation, trust was gradually built on both sides.

A human rights lawyer, Zanna Mustapha, was part of the negotiations, and was the key middleman in the release of the 82 Chibok girls.

With more than a hundred Chibok girls still being held, efforts to get them released are continuing.

There are thought to be at least 13 more Boko Haram commanders in the Federal Government’s custody who could be exchanged.

Speaking on the money paid by the Presidency, a retired military officer, Col. Olusegun Oloruntoba, pointed out that no amount of money or sacrifice was too much to bring back the Chibok girls.

“No amount of money can buy a life; how much more that of 82 young lives. The ransom paid is in favour of Nigeria and the Chibok girls’ family in particular. I urge the Federal Government to go ahead and make whatever sacrifice it takes to effect the release of the remaining Chibok girls.”

However, a security expert, Col. Gabriel Ajayi (retd.), told SUNDAY PUNCH that paying €2m as ransom to Boko Haram was too much.

“To pay such a stupendous amount of money is too bad, if it is true. But I think that’s a rumour because the Presidency has not come out to tell us that they paid such amount to the terrorist group.”

We didn’t pay ransom, FG insists

The Federal Government has denied allegations that it paid a ransom of €2m for the release of 82 Chibok schoolgirls.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said this during an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday.

The minister said only five Boko Haram commanders were released in exchange for the girls.

He said, “I emphatically deny on behalf of the Federal Government that any form of ransom was paid in exchange for the release of the 82 Chibok girls.

“Apart from the five Boko Haram commanders, the exchange of which we had already made public, no other concession was made. Any other thing to the contrary is absolutely false.”

Tears of joy as Chibok girls reunite with parents

Emotions reached a climax on Saturday as 164 parents and relatives reunited with their 82 daughters who had been in Boko Haram captivity for over three years.

The reunion took place in a well guarded facility owned by the Department of State Services. It is where the 82 girls, who were rescued by the Federal Government on May 6, 2017, were housed.

While some parents shared tears of joy, others began singing in Chibok language and clutched unto their daughters affectionately.

The parents thanked the Federal Government, well-meaning Nigerians and even Boko Haram for the release of the girls.

Chibok girl faints at reunion

One of the rescued schoolgirls was so elated on seeing her parents that she immediately fainted at the scene. Medical personnel immediately put her on a stretcher and conveyed to a nearby sickbay.

A cross section of parents, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH in pidgin and Hausa, said they could not describe their emotions.

I thought my daughter was dead —Parent

One of the girls’ fathers, Adamu Joshua, the father of Lydia Joshua, said when his daughter was abducted in 2014, he completely lost hope and prayed to God to give him another daughter.

His prayers were answered as he showed off his young daughter who was about two years of age.

He said, “I have five sons and a daughter. My daughter, Lydia, was my only daughter but in her absence God blessed me with another daughter. Now I have five boys and two daughters with the return of Lydia, I am so happy, if I had wings, I would fly high, we thank God for everything.

“My daughter Lydia is meeting her sister for the first time. My wife lost so much weight because she was always thinking of her daughter. She did not suspect that Lydia will return to us one day.”

I cried every day for three years —Mother

Another parent, Mrs. Juliana Bulus, said she was happy to be reunited with her daughter, Comfort Bulus.

Juliana said since the day her daughter was abducted by the terrorists, she cried every day for the last three years.

She said when Comfort was abducted, the men in Chibok community put a rescue team together and attempted to rescue her and her colleagues but they had no choice but to retreat when they were confronted by the terrorists.

Bulus said, “I was heartbroken after her abduction, I had no peace of mind, all I did was to worry. After their abduction, our husbands ran after them and discovered the girls’ location but they were told that if they got close to the place, they would be killed so they turned back.

“I became more heartbroken after they returned empty-handed and all I did was cry every day. That was how I survived all these years crying.”

Even if I die now, I’m happy —Dirmi

Another parent, Joshua Dirmi, said when his daughter Yana, was abducted from school, he barred his other children from going to school for two years.

He said it was not until last year, when some of the girls were rescued, that he decided to allow them to return to school.

Dirmi said reuniting with his daughter was his dying wish. He said now that his wish had come true, he was ready to die.

He said, “Today, my mind feels as if this is the day I was born. Even if I die today, I will die a happy man because my greatest wish has been met.”

Dirmi said immediately after his daughter’s abduction, he went into the forest along with some men to look for the girls but they were chased away by gun-wielding terrorists.

I don’t want my daughter to know her mother is dead —Yama

It wasn’t all joy for Mr. Pogu Yama, a retired police officer, whose wife died of heartache less than a month after his daughter, Margaret, was abducted.

Yama urged journalists to ensure that his daughter is not informed of her mother’s demise.

He said, “My daughter, Margaret, was her mother’s only daughter; we had only sons. So after she was abducted, her mother was heartbroken and could not bear the thought of it, so that is why I don’t want to talk so much about it.

“I don’t want my daughter to hear of her mother’s death. I am not going to tell her of her mother’s death. She has already gone through a lot as it is. I am scared of what might happen if I break such news to her. I will wait until the rest are back and she is strong enough, then I will tell her.”

Parents to return to Chibok on Monday

Mr. Yakubu Nkeki, the leader of the parent delegation, whose niece, Sarah, is among the rescued girls, said the parents all wanted their daughters to remain with the Federal Government till further notice.

He said the parents would return to Chibok on Monday to tend to their other children as well as their farms.

Nkeki said the entire trip was sponsored by the Federal Government.

He said, “We don’t know when the girls will be allowed to return, they are being taken care of right now.”

Copyright PUNCH.               
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *