Allegations that the Federal Government parted with a whopping $21million to the violent Islamist insurgent group, Boko Haram to secure the release of 21 out of the 218 abducted Chibok girls is currently stirring controversy.
Media reports had quoted sources in the military who reportedly admitted that the Federal Government paid out ransom to the terrorists before the girls were released and that the money was used by them to buy heavy weapons.
The report runs contrary to claims by the government that no ransom was paid and that there was no prisoners swap. However reports from Borno immediately the girls were released suggested that about four Boko Haram commanders were swapped for the girls.
The alleged ransom and purchase of heavy arms, the military sources in the report said was responsible for upsurge in the spate of more daring attacks by the Boko Haram.
Worried by the allegation that it contributed directly to the renewed vibrancy of the Boko Haram insurgency, the Presidency has said there is no truth in the report.
The Presidency, in a statement issued on Saturday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the Buhari administration does not have such money for ransom and that negotiation was on going to free probably all the remaining girls.
The Presidency statement reads: “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 US$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 it’s 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 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.
“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”, he added.
By Timothy Enietan-Matthews…
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