By Ebitonye Akpodigha
If the Federal Government wants the release of the remaining Chibok girls in custody of Boko Haram, then it may have to pay ransom and free not less than 16 commanders of the terrorist group detained by the Nigerian government.
These are the conditions set by the outlawed sect, according to Vanguard.
The paper reports that Thursday’s release of 21 of the over 200 kidnapped schoolgirls by the group was to test government’s level of commitment and sincerity in the ongoing dialogue.
All things being equal, Boko Haram representatives and those from the FG may resume talks this week on the release of another 83 Chibok girls.
Vanguard, relying on a “source”, said of the 219 girls still missing, only 104 were left in the captivity of the sect while the rest had long been married off by top commanders and converted to Islam.
But the government is still eager to get the remaining 83 girls reportedly held by a top leader of the sect in an undisclosed location in the North East.
“The truth is that those Chibok girls are now Boko Haram members, having married the sect members and become radicalised.
“The remaining 83 girls are with a top leader of Boko Haram and those are the only ones we are going to work for their release in the next phase of our negotiations which starts immediately.
“The others had since become Boko Haram members, having been married off and radicalised into Boko Haram as soon as they were captured over two years ago,” the report quoted the source as saying.
The report further said representatives of the sect, who are meeting with a Federal Government team, might insist on payment upfront of huge cash by government before freeing the captives.
“I think the guys are settled on the idea that the cash must come ahead of the release since they had proved to government that they are reliable by releasing the 21 girls, last week, without many conditions attached,” the source stated.
Asked if the sect leaders were unsure of government’s sincerity to keep its own side of the bargain, the source said that the representatives of Boko Haram had also shown that they have confidence in government.
It was learnt that the lingering challenge in getting back all the girls arose from the fact that while some of them are with a faction loyal to Benawhi, the rest are being kept by the group loyal to Abubakar Shekau.
But one of the negotiators believed the remaining 83 girls would be freed if a meaningful deal is struck between the sect and the Federal Government.