Nigeria will not be able to rescue the abducted Chibok girls unless it negotiates with Islamist sect Boko Haram according to the group’s terms, civil rights activist Shehu Sani, has said.
“I can tell you that the best deal till date is the prisoner swap offer. I don’t know what else is on the table for the government because if we say we shall use force, we shall be endangering the lives of the girls,” said Sani, who has been very active in the government’s negotiation efforts.
In an interview with Thisday, Sani noted that if the American and Israeli governments can “swallow their pride” and agree on negotiations, there was no reason why the authorities should shy away from agreeing on the terms of the insurgents.
Sani noted that if the American and Israeli governments can “swallow their pride” and agree on negotiations, there was no reason why Nigeria should not agree on the terms of the insurgents.
Sani, who is currently running for Senate in Kaduna state, acknowledged however, that the insurgents too have not been making matters any easy for the federal government.
“I fully understand that the Federal Government is saying that negotiating with insurgents is not the way to go. That no responsible government should engage in such negotiations. They are also worried that freeing some of the prisoners the insurgents are asking for is a dangerous request considering the crime they have committed.
“On their own part, the sect has said they would only release some of the girls and not all of them. Now that is something the government can’t understand. But what we should all know is that the girls have now become human shields to the insurgents. They do not trust the government and I suspect this is mutual. However, like I said, it is the insurgents that are at an advantage in this deal. They have nothing to lose.”
“If you say you won’t negotiate and invade the stronghold where the girls are kept, you risk their lives.”
Terror group Boko Haram had on April 14 stormed the Government Secondary School, Chibok and had abducted over 200 schoolgirls. While some escaped, several scores remain in the terrorists stronghold.
Efforts of the government to ensure the girls are rescued alive have not been fruitful so far, despite having foreign help on intelligence.
The military had continuously released statements on successes recorded in the fight against the Boko Haram, and also promising on when insurgency would end, but Sani has now urged the security forces to stop giving Nigerians false hope.
“You can give motivational speeches all you like to boost the morale of people, but I urge them to desist from giving spurious deadlines to the people. Insurgencies don’t go away overnight and to keep telling people that there are set deadlines is ridiculous. I would urge that the government should stop giving deadlines when the insurgency would end.”
Sani also expressed doubts about chided the military on the death claims of the sect’s leader Abubakar Shekau. “I had my doubts and the fact is that many people are suspicious of these claims. The truth is that if Shekau is dead, the sect would have announced a successor. That’s their method. But I also understand what Shekau’s death would mean to the military in terms of bolstering of courage.”