Military Authorities Say Swapping Abducted Chibok girls Is A Political Decision

The military says only the political authorities can decide on the demand by Boko Haram insurgents for exchange of the abducted Chibok girls with the sect’s detained members.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Lt-General Abayomi Olonishakin, stated this while addressing State House correspondents Monday fter a workshop organised for chief executives of government agencies held at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

In a video released by the sect weekend, a man clad in military uniform hanging an AK47 rifle had said some of the girls were still alive but would only be exchanged with Boko Haram members in the custody of the Nigerian authorities.

The Chief of Defence Staff also stressed yesterday that the military would sustain its counter-insurgency operations.

“That (swapping of Chibok girls with detained sect members) is a political decision to be taken. The military decision is that we are going ahead with our operations. The operation is being conducted appropriately,” the CDS stated.

Olonishakin, who said the meeting was on how to handle all forms of crises, including terrorism or flood, said the military was analysing the video and would make appropriate comments at the right time.

The CDS dismissed a report that a man who was declared wanted in connection with the activities of the insurgents was turned down when he reported to the army command in Borno State.

“Nobody reported to my men and was not turned back,” he said.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed also spoke on the sect’s request for swap, saying: “Until you are able to ascertain the authenticity of those you are talking to, you don’t go into details.”

The minister restated that the Federal Government was in touch with the leadership of the sect.

“The government’s position is clear that we’re in touch with them. We’re just being careful and cautious to ensure that we’re talking to the right people especially with the news that there is a split in the leadership. But what is important is the safety and security of these girls. The thrust of my statement was to ensure the nation that we’re on top of the situation. We’re not even just reacting to the video, we’ve gone far beyond the video in talking to the group already,” he said.

On the plan by the BringBackOurGirls campaigners to match to the State House again, Mohammed said: “We appreciate their commitment to the return of these girls, but there are few things we need to do behind the scene. What we’re saying is that the government is committed to doing everything to rescue these girls. We’re engaging them. By saying we’re talking to them, I’m talking from a point of knowledge. It does not matter what other people say. I know that the government is in touch with the group.

“Most people will forget the issue of these girls as soon as the effect of this video is over, but the government is daily working on it. Until the release of this video, the effort was not attracting any attention. But everyday, the Office of the NSA and others concerned are working on it. For us, it’s not just because of the release of the video, but because of our belief that there’ll be no final closure to Boko Haram until we’re able to resolve the issue of these girls.”

The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hameed Ali, explained that the workshop was arranged for chief executives to understand how to respond to emergency issues and be in the position to advise the president to take the right decisions under emergency cases whether on terrorism, flood or any other thing.

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