President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent comment that his government is willing to swap detained Boko Haram commanders with over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls, has aroused interest in a number of individuals and groups who have approached the Federal Government with offers to facilitate the deal, his spokesman has said.
It was learnt that multiple groups with claims of contact with Boko Haram had come forward with the proposal to link government up with the faction of the terrorist sect that is holding the girls, after the president gave indication that he was open to a swap deal.
Buhari had told journalists on the sidelines of the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi, Kenya last weekend that his government was prepared to take all the necessary measures to ensure the release of the girls.
The president said government was ready to enter into discussions with genuine leaders of the sect with the knowledge of the whereabouts of the girls.
He said such leaders could reach the Federal Government through an internationally recognised non-governmental organisation and show proof that they have the girls.
Confirming that some groups had made contact, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, however, said the Federal Government was being “prudent, careful and scrupulous” in every line of action it was taking to secure the freedom of the girls.
“The comments by the president have aroused interests and offers in certain quarters, from people who claim to have contacts with the group (Boko Haram). The intelligence agencies are scrutinising them. They are being careful this time around because of what happened in the past.
“Every offer is being investigated and verified. The president has always maintained that he wants to see a group that has the mandate of the sect and has a proof of possession (of the girls) and the willingness to discuss”, Shehu said in a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday.
In addition to the groups, the presidential spokesperson said security agents who have served in the North-East were also supplying information that could aid the girls’ rescue, just as Boko Haram members currently in detention, were also trying to prove their capacity to lead the way to their leaders, in order to get the girls returned.
“Nobody knows the way to the girls, but all options are being followed. Every line of action will be followed to a logical conclusion, with the hope that this time around, we will get it right. The president is very passionate about returning these girls to their parents”, Shehu added.
The presidential spokesman also stressed that in discussing the swap deal with the terrorist group, government would be guided by the provisions of the constitution.
“There is nothing the government will do in releasing the commanders that will violate the constitution of the country. Everything will be done in accordance with the provision of our laws”, he stated.