Following the abducted of the over 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram sect. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. President Goodluck Jonathan is currently under intense heat from some prominent Nigerians and some of his influential aides to accept the prisoner swap offer made by Boko Haram to release the over 200 schoolgirls it abducted from their school in Chibok on April 14.
It would be recalled that, The leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, had in a recent video asked for the release of Boko Haram members detained by security agencies across the country in exchange for the abducted girls.
Although the Presidency had ruled out what it called “trade by barter” in securing the release of the schoolgirls, some top government officials, including the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, had at different times said the government would go to any length to ensure that the girls were brought back to safety.
But it was learnt on Sunday that the President was being pressured by some prominent Nigerians to accede to the demands of the sect.
Their argument, it was gathered , was that what Nigerians and the international community were interested in at this time was the release of the girls and not the process leading to it.
“Some prominent Nigerians are already reaching out to the President on the need for him to change his stand on the matter and do anything that can lead to the release of the girls. They are of the view that the release is the most important thing now,” a source close to the Presidency said in Abuja.
He did not name the prominent Nigerians whom he said had reached out to Jonathan on the matter.
The source added that some of the President’s top aides were also of the view that inasmuch as the girls were still in the abductors’ den, Jonathan’s goodwill among Nigerians and on the international scene would continue to dwindle.
This, they argued, would not do the President and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party any good as election year approaches.
Our source said If the President finally yields to the pressure, the release of the Boko Haram members in detention would not be made a public issue like when their wives and children were freed last year.
The source said this was to avoid the moral burden of justifying the release of criminals in exchange for innocent girls.
He added that once the decision was finally taken, the sect members who had already been convicted by courts might not benefit from the arrangement.
The source was not sure whether Shekau would also enjoy the luxury of naming his members who should benefit from the exchange or not.
He said, “Some of us are on the same page with these prominent Nigerians on this matter. Government should not be seen to be too rigid on this matter if we must get result.
“The way it is going, if the pressure is sustained, I see the President giving up on the matter in coming days and processes leading to the consummation of the agreement will be done behind the scene.
“This is why some government officials have been saying that the government will explore all options. It is our belief that this should be done as secretly as possible because of those who do not see the sense in government releasing criminals in exchange for the innocent girls.”
The Northern Elders’ Forum had said no sacrifice was too much to bring back the girls, even if it included releasing Boko Haram prisoners.
The forum’s spokesman Prof. Ango Abdullahi, had told newsmen, that “every sacrifice is worth making to get these girls released from wherever they are kept.”
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