The presidency on Wednesday re-asserted President Muhammadu Buhari’s willingness to pay ransom if that is what it takes to bring back home, the remaining school girls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok in April 2014.
Faulting the position of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), which had alleged that ransom was not paid to free the girls because 80 to 90 per cent of them are Christians, a statement issued by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), said: “President Muhammadu Buhari made it very clear in 2015 that if ransom needed to be paid to free the Chibok schoolgirls, he would pay. That is a testament to his commitment to get the girls back.”
The presidency, which said it was constrained to react to unfounded allegations about the payment or non-payment of ransom for the release of the Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls, recalled media reports attributed to CAN’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Kwamkur Samuel, in which he was quoted to have said inter alia: “Nigerians need to know, if they have not known the reason why the Presidency could not pay ransom to rescue Chibok girls. It is because 80% to 90% of the girls are Christians. The reason why Dapchi girls’ ransom was quickly paid and they were returned is the discovery that most of the girls were Muslims except Leah Sharibu who is still in captivity.”
The statement pointed out that when the media in August 2018 quoted a United Nations Report alleging that the Federal Government paid a “huge ransom” for the release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls on March 21, 2018, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, immediately disputed the report, insisting that no ransom was paid, “little or huge.”
It recalled that the Minister had said: “There must be conclusive evidence to support such a claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is – a mere conjecture.”
The statement added: “And we ask, “Who should Nigerians or CAN rather believe, if there is good faith?
“We urge CAN to desist from disinformation which can further divide Nigerians. The letter and spirit of the Holy Bible do not support discord, which CAN’s allegations are liable to cause.
“The Christian body need not be antagonistic to every attempt by the administration to move Nigeria forward, before it can champion or defend the Christian faith.”
The presidency further posited:
“Notwithstanding our different faiths, we are all stakeholders in the promotion of peace in our fatherland. And the Holy Bible enjoins us to, ‘Seek peace, and pursue it.’”
Recalled the 276 girls were snatched from their dormitory in Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state on April 14, 2014.
Fifty-seven of them were later rescued while the remaining 219 are yet to regain freedom.