The Boko Haram terrorist group rejected the ransom offered by the Federal Government to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, sources at the Presidency said on Sunday.
Sharibu, a schoolgirl, is the only Dapchi schoolgirl still held hostage out of the 110 kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, in 2018.
The sources that the money was ready to be delivered when the terrorists, who had made the request for a specific amount totalling millions of Naira in hard currency, changed their minds and rejected any ransom.
They said the Federal Government reached an agreement after a long communication procedure as the channels of communication between top security agents of the government, third parties and the terrorists at times took more than a month to complete one line of messages back and forth.
One of the sources said: “While the Federal Government remains strongly committed to securing the release of Leah and all other identified and unidentified abductees, by any means necessary, the terrorists chose much earlier after Leah’s abduction to use her to fan religious embers and cause devastating division in the country. And that was why the terrorists rejected the ransom government security agencies prepared to pay for Leah’s release.”
The source said top presidential officials still encouraged federal government officials to remain actively engaged with the channels of communication with the negotiators until a positive resolution is secured “because the president has set a firm target and resolve to ensure the freedom of Leah and others by any means necessary.”
Meanwhile, a security expert, Salihu Bakhari, on Sunday, said the Federal Government must renegotiate with the terrorists because Leah Sharibu’s abductors “know that the attention of the world is on the girl.
“The girl is an expensive captive and her case is complicated considering the fact that she was not released alongside other girls abducted from Dapchi.
“The world will accuse the Federal Government of not doing the right thing if the girl remains in captivity.
“The terrorists know her worth and will use it to their maximum advantage. They know government is involved in the negotiation; she is therefore not an ordinary captive.
“However, one thing is certain: they will not kill her, but they will also not release her easily.
“They have provided a proof of life and most importantly, she is in the hands of ISWAP, not Shekau and therefore, elaborate negotiation will work out. They are not using her as highly priced captive only, but also a human shield. I suggest that government should not back out from the process. They should negotiate more not necessarily by giving more money, but by using other available options.”
Leah’s father, Sharibu Nathan, on Sunday said that he was not aware that the insurgents rejected any ransom to release his daughter. He also noted that he had not heard anything about the girl. (Daily Trust)