FREEPRESS – The Federal Government on Sunday denied media reports that the militant group, Boko Haram, is demanding $50 million from it as ransom before releasing the abducted Chibok school girls.
In an interview with the Voice of America, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said ransom reports were not new.
The minister said: “It appears we have several versions of this report.
“The one that we heard was from a source that (Boko Haram) wants to release 10 of these girls for one million Euros.
“But the most important thing is that we’ve gone through this route before, and until and when we establish the credibility of this source and the truth behind it, the government will not be in a hurry to make a statement.
“However, government is using its own channels to authenticate the credibility of this source,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed assured that President Muhammadu Buhari would deliver on his promise to do all he could to ensure the release of the school girls.
He stressed that the promise by the president, following his recent meeting with parents of the abducted girls at the presidential villa, is sacrosanct.
“No day passes without the issue of the kidnapped girls not being at the front burner. But these are highly security and intelligence issues which cannot always be discussed openly.
“But I can assure you that, for this government, the return of these girls is what is going to bring the final closure on the Boko Haram terrorism and we are working very hard, daily on it,” he said.
The minister restated government’s position that it had made significant progress in the fight against Boko Haram.
He said that those who thought otherwise were “not being very fair to us”.
“We inherited a very bad situation where the trail had gone cold, despite that every day we send out reports, we receive (information) some of them are phoney, some of them are just there to excoriate government.
“But the truth of the matter is that it’s not a matter that the government is taking lightly.
“Those who want a daily report on what we are doing, of course in security issues, that does not happen.
“But we have channels of information in which we make available on a need to know basis,” he said.
Mr. Mohammed said Nigeria’s military had been able to wrestle control of territories previously under the control of the Boko Haram militants.
He also said the militants had been dislodged from their fortresses, including their main operation centre in the Sambisa Forest.
“What we have today is cowardly attacks on soft targets. … and Nigeria has moved on from that and we are now concentrating very much on the rehabilitation and resettlement of those who were displaced.
“And I think the fact that one of the most wanted persons all over the world was captured without even firing a shot last week is evidence so far of Nigeria’s success in dealing with terrorism,” he said.