Premium Times has made a big revelation containing intricate details of how the negotiation between Nigeria’s federal government and representatives of the terrorist group, Boko Haram collapsed at the eleventh hour. The negotiation which would have seen the government swap about 16 prisoners for the over 200 abducted Chibok girls was led by one time Minister of Information and Niger Delta elder, Chief Edwin Clark.
According to Premium Times, the list contained majorly some of Boko Haram’s middle commanders who are spending time behind bars in various detention cells across the country. The list of prisoners for the swap which was sent to the government had the following names
3 Baba Gana Mongunu
4.Mallam Bashir Kachallah
6. Mallam Baba Gana
7. Mallam Baba Mala
8. Mallam Abakar
9. Mallam Ibrahim
10. Mallam Awana
11. Mallam Yarema
12. Mallam Albani Jos
13. Mallam Tuja.
We hear the negotiation was facilitated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The other three names which made the list up to 16 was communicated later to the negotiators through phone calls.
Boko Haram had initially asked for just 10 of their detained field captains to be released in exchange for all the abducted girls. While the government was busy combing the detention centres for the field captains, there was a problem in Boko Haram’s camp as some Hausa and Fulani sect members why everyone on the list was of Kanuri extraction and fought against this. At this point, negotiations slowed down and the sect had to compose a new list which was more balanced.
The government got the new list and began the process of identifying the in-demand prisoners but could not find some of the names in the detention centres which led to the believe that some of those on the list may have been killed in previous face offs with the military or even extra judicially. There was yet another twist as those who were identified from the list denied being members of the sect and rejected being handed over to the sect in any swap deal, this further slowed down negotiations.
It was at this point that both parties in the negotiation began to lose trust in each other. Boko Haram camp took another dramatic turn when they said they will no longer swap all the girls but just 30 of them in exchange for their listed members. Chief Edwin Clark which led government’s negotiators reportedly rejected the new offer and asked them to release all and not some of the girls in exchange for the prisoners. The Boko Haram negotiators disagreed with Chief Clark but later agreed to his stance after considering his age.
Upon the completion of negotiation, the capital of Adamawa State, Yola was chosen as the location for the prisoners/Chibok girls swap. The plan was that the Boko Haram negotiators would sneak into Yola with the girls, hand them over to the Red Cross and then they will get the imprisoned sect members in return. Premium Times reports that the Nigerian government even went as far as chartering a Boeing 737 jet which will take the girls to Abuja from Yola.
Surprisingly, what was meant to be discreet became a rendezvous of some sort as the Yola airport was filled with security forces upon the arrival of some of the negotiators. The negotiators were taken into the Presidential lounge and what was meant to be a 2-hour wait metamorphosed into two days in the hotel and yet, the Boko Haram camp never showed up with the girls .
Aside, Chief Clark some of those involved in the negotiations were: Maiduguri-based lawyer, Mustapha Zanna; Nigerian civil rights leaders, Shehu Sani and Fred Eno; PDP chieftain, Kaka Bolori, three top officials from the International Red Cross headquarters office in Geneva and two field captains of the terror group, Boko Haram.