The Nigerian government has said that it is not in discussions with the dreaded Boko Haram sect on modalities for the release of the over 200 school girls abducted in Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state, since last month.
A British newspaper, Telegraph, reported on Sunday that the federal government of Nigeria was in indirect talks with the sect on possibility of securing the release of the abductees, with or without conditions.
“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”, the newspaper quoted an unnamed source close to Boko Haram as saying.
However, the Nigerian government vehemently denied this claim yesterday, saying there was no iota of truth in the story published by the British newspaper.
Head of an Information Management Centre newly established in Abuja, Mike Omeri, told the Hausa service of the BBC in an interview monitored yesterday, that the government does not rely on media reports carrying out its operations.
Rather, it deals in concrete matters through appropriate channels of engagement with various governments and other stakeholders, said Mr. Omeri, who is also director general of the National Orientation Agency (NOA).
Reiterating the government’s rebuttal of the Telegraph story, he said while some media reports are true, not all could be said to be factual and accurate, adding that this particular one on the purported talks with Boko Haram was “absolutely untrue”.
He however assured that the Nigerian government was doing its best to ensure the release and return of the abducted Chibok school girls to their families in safe and sound health.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD), said yesterday that a spy plane sent to help in the search for the kidnapped schoolgirls kidnapped had been grounded en route due to a fault.
“A technical fault which has delayed the Sentinel aircraft on its way to Ghana is being investigated and will be solved as soon as possible,” Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted a MoD statement as saying.
“In the meantime the UK military team continues its work on the ground while other surveillance aircraft continue the search for the missing schoolgirls”, the statement said.
AFP reported the Times as saying that the Royal Air Force jet had taken off from Waddington base in east England as planned, but the crew soon noticed a fault.
They decided to fly on and eventually touched down in Senegal, where the plane is now being repaired.
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced last week he had offered Nigeria the surveillance plane and a military team to help with the search for more than 200 missing schoolgirls abducted over a month ago.
The Ministry of Defence clarified that one Sentinel plane would be sent. Specialist teams from the United States, Britain, France and Israel have been sent to help in the search operation, which Nigeria’s military has said is concentrated on the Sambisa forest area of Borno state.