BEVERLY HILLS, May 09, (THEWILL) – The Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Monday disclosed that the swap deal under which some Boko Haram prisoners were exchanged for 82 Chibok girls was approved by the immediate past president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
The PDP deputy national chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, stated this at a press conference in Abuja, in reaction to the condemnation of the swapping of some Boko Haram terrorists with the girls by the party’s national caretaker committee led by Ahmed Makarfi.
Spokesman of the Makarfi group, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, had in a statement on Sunday, faulted the release of the Boko Haram detainees in exchange for 82 of the abducted Chibok girls, describing it as an “unusual price” which is a blow to the fight against insurgency in the Northeast and the country as a whole.
But the Sheriff faction of the PDP asserted that no price was too big to pay for the freedom of girls abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno state over three years ago.
Ojougboh, who disclosed that he was part of the federal government team that negotiated for the release of the Chibok girls in 2014, explained that the moves that culminated in the release of some of the girls, which started during the tenure of the former president.
He added that Jonathan apart from authorising the swap of some Boko Haram detainees with the girls, had also set up a team to negotiate with the insurgents to secure the release of the girls but regretted that the swap deal was scuttle at the last minute.
Ojougboh said, “Let us make it very clear that the effort and the battle for the release of the girls started a long time ago. Some time in May 2014,a consultant of the World Bank visited Nigeria and approached Chief E.K Clark and told Chief E.K Clark that the Chibok girls were alive and could be rescued. Chief EK Clark made contact with the then president Goodluck Jonathan…Arrangement were made to release the chibok girls some time in May 2014. I went for the meeting for the exchange.
“Conditions were set. Conditions that were set involved the release of the Boko Haram prisoners. When the Boko Haram representatives met us first, they said ten of their mallams were arrested in Bauchi when they were praying. When we took the information to the DSS and then Chief of Defence Staff(Alex Badeh), they laughed. They said those that were arrested were hardened Boko Haram members.
“We took the information to the President. The President said whatever it takes to release the Chibok girls, any swap that this people demand, he approved it. Jonathan approved it.”
He added after Jonathan left office in 2015, the negotiations continued with the Switzerland Embassy and Red Cross International playing key roles.
The PDP deputy national chairman, who lauded the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for the release of the 82 girls, urged the government to do everything possible to secure the release of the rest of the girls still in Boko Haram captivity.
“We are very happy that the 82 girls have been released. We are also concerned about the remaining girls.We urge the federal government to continue this process of negotiations and do whatever it takes for the release of the remaining girls should be done,” he stated.
Ojougboh urged the public to disregard the comments by the PDP caretaker committee on the swap, noting that the committee does not have the authority to speak for the party on any issue.
He then pointed out that it is better for all offenders to be set free than for one innocent person to suffer unjustly.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (politics)