There are indications that Boko Haram will this week release half of the kidnapped Chibok school girls, British newspaper, Telegraph reported yesterday.
This is even as the United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngouka, at the weekend paid solidarity visit to Nigeria, assuring that UN women would do everything possible in assisting Nigeria to ensure speedy release of the abducted Chibok school girls.
The British based media said sources close to Boko Haram revealed to it that the sect was willing to conduct a “gradual” release of its hostages in return for the release of Boko Haram prisoners in Nigerian jails.
The terrorist group, surprisingly, has made a significant concession in which it abandoned demands for its top commanders to be released as a prisoner swap deal with government, apparently realising that this would be politically impossible for the federal government to agree, it said.
“Contrary to the public rejection of any swap deal by the Nigerian government, there are some on-the-ground talks taking place. An agreement was reached about two or three days ago in principle to start releasing some prisoners”, according to the source.
The source further said Boko Haram has also listed some lower-level fighters that it wants released as well, adding that in exchange of this, the group was willing to start a “gradual” release of around 100 of the girls, possibly beginning this week, depending on how faithful the federal government is to its own side of the commitment.
“Depending on how the other side responds, the girls will be released in small groups. They will be left at a certain safe location, and the authorities will then be told as to where they can pick them up from”, the source said.
UN Women boss pays solidarity visit to Nigeria
Meanwhile, UN Women have pledged continued commitment to press for the speedy release of Chibok school girls, and the promotion of girl-child education in Nigeria.
The UN Under-Secretary General, gave the assurance yesterday in Abaji Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory, during a solidarity visit to the Federal Government Girls College in company of the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina.
She said the UN System is behind the call for the release of the girls and would continue to take girl-child education as the best achievement any nation could have in the 21st century.
She said girls in Nigeria deserve the best in education, security, health and social services, to guaranty their proper development in an environment that has been made conducive for gender mainstreaming and women multi-faceted empowerment by the present administration.
“When I see you, I see the ‘Malalas’ of this world”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngouka told students of the college.
The UN Envoy said the International Community, especially the UN System, is encouraged by the religious and traditional leaders in Nigeria, who came out to condemn what she described as “heinous”, and for expressing their support for the unconditional release of the Chibok girls.
Speaking, the women affairs minister noted that all Nigerians, especially parents in the country, have been saddened by the incident.
In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, MacJohn Nwabiala, who represented the Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, described the visit of the UN Women executive director to share her thoughts and to identify with the country as a commendable gesture.