Doing Business with Boko Haram: Abuja ‘to negotiate with “terrorists” to secure release of abducted girls’
Nigeria plans to negotiate with Daesh-linked Boko Haram terrorists to secure the release of the schoolgirls abducted by the group in 2014 as well as last month, after discussing the plan with the United States’ visiting secretary of state.
Nigeria’s President and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari discussed the use of negotiations during a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in the capital, Abuja, according to an emailed statement by Buhari’s office on Monday.
“Nigeria prefers to have schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok and Dapchi back alive, and that is why it has chosen negotiation, rather than a military option,” read the statement.
“President Buhari added that Nigeria was working in concert with international organizations and negotiators to ensure that the girls were released unharmed by their captors,” it added.
Boko Haram terrorists attacked a school in the northeastern town of Dapchi in the state of Yobe on February 19. While many schoolgirls managed to escape in time, a number of others remain unaccounted for and are presumed abducted.
The Boko Haram terrorist group had already kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014.
While some of the Chibok girls have been released following what security sources described as “ransom payments,” nearly 100 are still being held by Boko Haram.
Tillerson visited Nigeria on the last leg of his week-long tour of African countries, his first trip to the continent as the top US diplomat. During his five-nation tour of Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Chad, and Nigeria, Tillerson has reportedly attempted to establish security partnerships.
The Nigerian statement said Buhari had thanked the US for assistance rendered in the fight against Boko Haram, noting that Nigerian forces were good but needed assistance with training and equipment.
At least 20,000 people have been killed in acts of terror by Boko Haram in Nigeria since 2009, when the group launched militancy.
The security challenge has become politically charged in the most populous African country, less than a year before presidential polls are to be held. Buhari has been touring areas struggling with security issues and is due to visit Yobe.