Buhari and Chibok Girls
President Muhammadu Buhari, who pledged to defeat Boko Haram by the end of 2015, said he would not rule out offering cash or prisoners swap in exchange for the Chibok school girls.
The President also said he would not resign even if he fails to fulfill his promise of ending the Boko Haram insurgency in December.
This was contained in a press release sent via email by Ryan Kohls on behalf of Al Jazeera English and ‘UpFront’. Upfront, which is hosted by Mehdi Hasan, had interviewed Buhari on the activities of the group.
When Al Jazeera asked him whether he would offer money or do prisoner exchange with Boko Haram, President Buhari said, “Yes, we said it and we meant it. If we are satisfied that the girls are alive, well it depends on the negotiations of Boko Haram.”
The president said, “By the end of the year, Boko Haram will virtually be out of their main stronghold and that will be the end of it. Attacks by Boko Haram on townships and on military installations will certainly stop.”
If Boko Haram isn’t defeated by December, however, Buhari said he would not resign.
“I will be determined to stay and fight it out,” the President said.
Buhari also reiterated that his administration would be willing to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgents if the group can give assurance that the Chibok schoolgirls abducted over a year ago are well and alive.
“They (Boko Haram) have to prove to us that they are alive, they are well, and then we can…negotiate with them,” Buhari told Hasan.
Asked whether he would offer financial payments or a prisoner release to Boko Haram in return for the girls, Buhari did not rule out either option.
“Well, it depends on the negotiations with the leadership of Boko Haram,” the President said.
It has been 18 months since more than 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram at Chibok in Borno State.
President Buhari had, last Month, during an interaction with members of the Nigerian community in France under the auspices of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation, reiterated his administration’s readiness to negotiate with the terror gang.
Buhari said his administration was worried by the continued stay of the girls in the hands of their captors and was working tirelessly to get them release.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, had in July confirmed the willingness of government to negotiate with the sect if the gang was ready to engage in talks with the government.
Also in the interview with Al Jazeera English, Buhari claimed not to have seen the Amnesty International report from June 2015, “Nigeria: Stars on their shoulders: Blood on their hands,” in which the human rights group documented abuses, torture and unlawful killings by the Nigerian armed forces and urged the government to prosecute a group of officers and senior commanders.
He said, “I haven’t received that report personally. If I get those documents… I assure you that I will take action as Commander in Chief.”
In the past, Buhari has been quoted as saying he supports “the total implementation of the Sharia in the country” but he told ‘UpFront’ that “Nigerian law does not allow for” so-called Sharia punishments, such as stoning and amputation, adding that “I cannot change it. I haven’t been voted by majority of Nigerians to change Nigerian constitution.”
Asked about his record as a military dictator in the mid-1980s and the alleged rights abuses which occurred under his watch, Buhari said, “If there is any injustice that can be proved against me when I was there, I will gladly apologise.”
The President refused, however, to concede that his now notorious war against indiscipline’ in the 1980s featured any such “injustice.”