Boko Haram is asking for a ransom of nearly $50million from the federal government for the release of the 219 Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the insurgents two years ago, according to The Sunday Telegraph of London.
The paper said it gathered from sources close to the sect that the demand was made “during secret contacts with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari who has said he is willing to negotiate for the girls’ freedom.”
The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, had previously demanded the release of jailed comrades in exchange for the girls.
A top security source said last night that there was no deal in place between government and the sect on the Chibok girls who were abducted on April 14, 2014.
The Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, group which has been campaigning for the rescue of the girls has expressed frustration about government’s continued “rhetoric of lack of intelligence and other excuses” on their fate.
It said in a statement ahead of the second anniversary of the abduction that it expects more action than the rhetoric.
The Sunday Telegraph said in its report that Boko Haram made the ransom demand in a message to the federal government about three months ago.
It offered to exchange the girls for a ransom of N10bllion, the equivalent of around £36million.
The paper said, “The ransom demand has split the government,” said the source.
“Some think it would be worth it just to resolve the Chibok situation, but others say it will simply allow Boko Haram to hire yet more insurgent recruits.”
It also said that a month after the ransom demand, Boko Haram secretly passed the government a new video tape showing 15 of the kidnapped girls.
It added: “The girls are asked what their Christian names are and what their new Muslim names are,” he said, referring to the “conversion” that Boko Haram forces Christian prisoners to undergo. “They are also asked if they have been raped or mistreated, but they say no – they look relaxed.”
It also said that an Australian clergyman and former Nigerian government advisor who spent four months in Nigeria in 2014 attempting to negotiate the girls’ freedom, Dr Stephen Davies claimed that during his visits to Nigeria in 2014, a Boko Haram commander gave him a grisly video showing what purported to be the human remains of some of the Chibok girls.
However, he had never passed it on because there was no proof that it was definitely them.
“There was nothing identifiable in the video, and without any proof that it was the girls, there was no way I was prepared to pass it to anguished relatives,” he said. “On the other hand, I can’t think of any other reason why the commander would have passed it to me.”
Contacted on the Telegraph story last night, a top security source said: “There is no ongoing deal with Boko Haram at any level. That claim by the sect or any other person is incorrect.
“President Muhammadu (Buhari) will not engage in any backdoor deal with the insurgents. The report was talking of the last three months in which Boko Haram had been severely decimated by the military.”
The president’s senior special assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, who was also contacted, responded from Addis Ababa on his way to China, saying “I will find out from the appropriate security chiefs and get back to you.”
Meanwhile, the BBOG group wondered “how much longer must we wait” before the girls are brought back home.
Although it acknowledged the heightened effort of the military to crush Boko Haram, it said, quoting President Buhari: “We cannot claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by the insurgents.”
Meanwhile, the Department of State Service, DSS said the Boko Haram commander, Khalid AL-BARNAWI, that was recently arrested in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, is responsible for the bombing of the United Nations’ building in Abuja.
The Service also claimed that the suspect has been involved in bombing 7 other states including Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi and Sokoto states.
This is even as the service said it has uncovered the heinous role played by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, in the abduction/kidnap of five Hausa-Fulani residents, namely Mohammed GAINAKO, Ibrahim MOHAMMED, Idris YAKUBU, and Isa Mohammed RAGO at Isuikwuato LGA in Abia State.
According to a statement issued by the DSS’ spokesman, Tony Opuiyo, AL-BARNAWI was a founding member of the Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid Da’wah Wa’l-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram and later the Amir of the break-away faction, Jama’at Ansarul Muslimim Fi Biladi Sudan, JAMBS.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that Khalid AL-BARNAWI was apprehended by the DSS on April 1, in Lokoja, while hiding under a false cover.
Mr. Opuiyo’s statement revealed that the TRUE identity of the suspect is Mohammed USMAN, but widely known as Khalid AL-BARNAWI, alias KAFURI/ NAZIRU/ ALHAJI YAHAYA/MALLAM DAUDA/ALHAJI TANIMU.
The statement rrvealed further that Khalid AL-BARNAWI is a trained terrorist commander, who has been coordinating terrorist activities in Nigeria, while talent-spotting and recruiting vulnerable young and able Nigerians for terrorist training by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM in North African States and the Middle-East.
Part of the statement reads, “Subject was involved in many terrorist attacks in States of the Federation, including Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Sokoto and FCT-Abuja. This resulted in the killing and maiming of innocent citizens of this Country.
“ALBARNAWI is also responsible for the bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, on 26th August, 2011; the kidnapping of two European civil engineers in Kebbi State in May, 2011, and their subsequent murder in Sokoto State; the kidnap of a German engineer, Edgar RAUPACH in January, 2012, the kidnap and murder of seven expatriate staff of Setraco Construction Company at Jama’are, in Bauchi State in February, 2013, the attack of Nigerian troops at Okene in Kogi State, while on transit to Abuja for an official assignment.
The statement said the subject would soon be charged to Court to face his charges after investigation is completed.
“This arrest is a major milestone in the counter-terrorism fight of this Service. This arrest has strengthened the Service’s resolve that no matter how long and far perpetrators of crime and their sponsors may run, this Service in collaboration with other sister security agencies, will bring them to justice.
On IPOB, the service claimed that, “The abducted men were later discovered at the Umuanyi forest, Abia State, where they were suspected to have been killed by their abductors and buried in shallow graves, amidst fifty (50) other shallow graves of unidentified persons. Arrest and investigation conducted so far, revealed that elements within the IPOB, carried out this dastardly action.
“It is pertinent therefore to alert the general public that IPOB, is gradually showing its true divisive colour and objectives, while steadily embarking on gruesome actions in a bid to ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust amongst non-indigenes in the South-East region and other parts of the country. Following this act, tension is currently rife among communal stakeholders in the State with possibilities of spillover to other parts of country.
“Against the foregoing, the Service will not hesitate to act decisively within its statutory mandate to ensure that the sponsors and perpetrators of this action are apprehended and prosecuted for their crime.
“Accordingly, law-abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their civil duties and businesses freely, as efforts are being intensified by security agencies to maintain law and order in the State and across the Federation.