Decision to swap terrorists for Chibok girls or not, Political – CDS.
Following the demand by Boko Haram for a swap deal involving their Commanders before the abducted Chibok girls can be released, Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonishakin has said that such a decision was a political one that only the executive can take.
He vowed that military operations against the sect and efforts to recover the girls who had been kidnapped since April 14, 2014, would continue.
Factional Boko Haram leader had vowed that the over 200 girls would not be released until the federal government set free its fighters held in Lagos, Maiduguri, Abuja and other parts of the country.
General Olonishakin, who spoke at the Presidential villa after a meeting with service chiefs, said “The military decision is that we are going ahead with our operations. The operation is being conducted appropriately”.
He also denied that the military had turned away any of the three persons it declared wanted on Sunday on allegation of having ties to the sect, saying “nobody reported to my men and was turned back.”
Meanwhile, the three persons declared wanted by the military, in connection with the new Boko Haram video, on Monday said they were ready to make themselves available to the military.
Olonishakin said the military was still analyzing the video released by the sect and would make appropriate comments at the right time.
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed on his part said the government was in talks with the Boko Haram sect for the release of the girls.
He said the government was careful to ensure it was speaking with the right group as the sect had been factionalized.
“The government’s position is clear, that we are in touch with them. We are just being careful and cautious to ensure that we are 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” Mohammed said.
On the planned march by the BringBackOurGirls to the presidential villa, the minister said the government appreciated the group’s commitment to the return of the girls but noted that a few things needed to be done behind the scene.
“What we are saying is that the government is committed to do everything to rescue these girls. We are engaging them. By saying we are talking to them, I am 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”, he said.
The minister noted that government had not relented on efforts to find and recover the girls adding, “For us, it is not just because of the release of the video but because of our belief that there will be no final closure to Boko Haram until we are able to resolve the issue of these girls”.
However, barely a day after being declared wanted by the Federal Government for alleged association with Boko Haram terrorists, Ahmad Salkida has said he should be commended for making sacrifice to free the Chibok girls rather than being labeled an accomplice.
The Nigerian journalist, who was declared, wanted, along with two others, Ahmed Bolori and Aisha Wakil, by the Nigerian Army over Boko Haram’s latest video, said on Monday that he was ready to return to Nigeria to meet with the Nigerian Army on the condition that it funded his trip.
Salkida has been living in the Middle East since the outbreak of the Boko Haram crisis and is believed to have said he had commenced preparations to return to country to honour the invitation.
Salkida said in a statement that the Army was aware that he was not in the country at the time he was declared wanted, apparently faulting the tag on him.
“The Army is aware that I am not in Nigeria at present. In the coming days, I will seek to get a flight to Abuja and avail myself to the Army authorities. Indeed, my return will be hastened if the military sends me a ticket.”
Salkida wondered why the army declared him wanted for simply carrying out his job as a journalist, saying he did his work in strict compliance with professionalism.
“Clearly, my status as a Nigerian journalist, who has reported extensively, painstakingly and consistently on the Boko Haram menace in the country since 2006, is an open book known to Nigerians and the international community.
“As a testimony to the credible and professional values of my access, since May, 2015, l have been to Nigeria three times on the invitation of Federal Government agencies. I made personal sacrifices for the release of our Chibok daughters”.
Also, another person wanted by the military for the same reason, Ahmed Bolori, said he turned himself in on Sunday evening but was allegedly asked to go back home without questioning. He returned to the army barracks on Monday.
Bolori wrote on his Face book page: “I have signed the visitors register since and I am still waiting to be taken in. Although, the Army guard doesn’t have airtime to contact his heads.”
This was at about 10:00am yesterday. An hour later, he posted another photo saying: “Finally, I am driving into the Army Operation Headquarters now.”
Some 20 minutes later, he posted another picture, saying “the Army is now treating me well and peacefully, as a nice colonel by the name ‘Ahmed’ (a military police), just took me to his office to drink tea. May God help us!”
The third wanted person, Aisha Wakil, a lawyer, was at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, on Monday to submit herself to military authorities.
Wakil said she was immediately taken in for interrogation as soon as she arrived at the Defence Headquarters.
She said the front desk officers asked her what she wanted and she told them she was declared wanted Sunday.
But the officers said they were not aware of such and she asked them to read the newspapers online.
“They told me they will go and read and get back to me,” Mrs. Wakil said.
Army spokesman, Sani Usman, confirmed yesterday, that Mrs. Wakil had submitted herself.
“I have been reliably informed that she has reported at the Defence Headquarters and she has been directed to the Directorate of Military Intelligence,” Col Usman said.
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