Jonathan’s Govt Initiated Chibok Girls’ Swap With Terrorists – Sheriff
The Senator Ali Modu Sheriff-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has dissociated itself from the position of its rival faction, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, condemning the swap of Boko Haram terrorists with the 82 Chibok girls freed at the weekend.
The Sheriff group, which said PDP would continue to encourage the federal government to negotiate more and release the entire girls, said it was former President Goodluck Jonathan that initiated the idea of swapping the girls with the terrorists.
The Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the PDP, had on Sunday, described the decision to exchange the girls for Boko Haram suspects as dangerous, saying it would further complicate the nation’s security.
Dissociating its faction from the position yesterday at a news conference in Abuja, its Acting Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, said the position of the Makarfi-led NCC did not represent the view of the party on the matter, describing them as ‘rebel’ group.
Ojuogboh said: “The attention of the party has been drawn to a statement made by the rebel group criticising aspects of the release of the Chibok girls. None of them on the so-called caretaker committee has ever run a party, they don’t have experience and so, they don’t even know what government is all about.
“So for them to come out to criticise the process of this release is most unbecoming and we ask Nigerians to completely ignore them and discountenance what they are saying.
“Let us make it clear that the effort and the battle to release the Chibok girls started a long time ago. In effect, sometimes in May 2014, a consultant of the World Bank visited Nigeria and approached Chief EK Clark that the Chibok girls were alive and they could be rescued.
“Chief EK Clark made contact with the then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, and he authorised Chief Clark to nominate a trustworthy persons to negotiate on behalf of the government of Nigeria for the release of the Chibok girls.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud today to tell you that I was the one who was nominated to negotiate the release of the Chibok girls. The parties that were put together on behalf of the government of Nigeria are the following persons. One, the then Director General of SSS, the then Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Badeh, the CSO to Mr. President, my humble self. “We were to negotiate on behalf of the President. Then Malam Shehu Sani, who is currently a senator, a particular businessman and the owner of a school in Borno whose name I cannot call for obvious reason, were the people who contacted the persons to represent Boko Haram.
“And we held series of meetings, the International Red Cross Society, the Embassy of Switzerland, we took these representatives of the Boko Haram to the International Red Cross, and to the Ambassador of Switzerland, they gave us time, they studied what information we had and they approved of it.
“Arrangements were made to release the Chibok girls sometime in May 2014, provisions were made, persons were gathered, I went for the meeting for the exchange, conditions were set.
“The conditions that were set involved the release of the Boko Haram prisoners. When the Boko Haram representatives met us first, what they told us was that ten of their malams were arrested in Bauchi when they were praying.
“When we took the information to the DSS and the then CDS, Air Marshal Badeh, they laughed, they said ‘no, these people they gave us their names, which I still have today, they are not Malams, they are hardened and toughened terrorists.
“We are very happy that these 82 girls have been released, we are also very concerned about the remaining girls and we urge the Federal Government, we give them kudos, to continue this process of negotiation, and whatever it takes to release the remaining girls should be done.”
“We are calling on the press and Nigerians that the dissident group, the renegade group, the rebels of PDP, should not issue statement on behalf of PDP. The only thing I have to add to this is that when in May, 2014, we were to receive these girls, we had already committed every resources available, logistics were made, but when we got to the negotiation point’ the ICR, myself and lady doctors from the SSS, we were disappointed,” he concluded.