May 10, 2017

82 Chibok Girls: Why we helped Nigeria negotiate with Boko Haram – Swiss govt

82 Chibok Girls: Why we helped Nigeria negotiate with Boko Haram – Swiss govt

President Muhammadu Buhari (standing) speaking during a reception for the 82 Chibok girls. ABOVE RIGHT: A cross-section of the girls. BELOW RIGHT: Members of the BBOG jubilating yesterday.

Switzerland has given an insight into why it was part of the negotiation that led to the release of the 82 Chibok girls abducted three years ago by the terror group, Boko Haram.

According to a news report published yesterday by a UK newspaper, IBTimes UK, the Swiss government said its involvement in the negotiation with Boko Haram was a result of a request from the Nigerian government, in addition to “humanitarian concerns.”

President Muhammadu Buhari, Sunday, had thanked Switzerland, the International Committee of Red Cross, Nigerian military and security agencies, and local and international NGOs for their help in the release of the girls.

82 Chibok girls with President Buhari shortly before leaving for London

The Red Cross had on Monday  explained its role in freeing the girls.

IBTimes UK quoted Noemie Charton, the spokesperson for the Switzerland’s foreign ministry, as saying: “Switzerland’s commitment is motivated by humanitarian concerns.

“Switzerland’s engagement in this operation was guided by the principles of strict neutrality and non-interference.”

The paper also quoted a security analyst and counter-terrorism expert, David Otto, who said: Switzerland representative played an active role in organising negotiations from within Nigeria and outside Nigeria along with local key actors like Barrister Zannah Mustapha and (human rights activist and lawyer) Asiha Wakil, who wield trust due to their pre-existing relationships with one or more factions (of Boko Haram)”

Details of the negotiations that resulted in the release of the girls have not been disclosed by the federal government.

The government has also not disclosed the number of Boko Haram suspects released in the swap deal.

Switzerland, according to the paper, called on Boko Haram to release the remaining girls who are in their captivity.

The released girls are among the over 270 abducted from their dormitories in a government secondary school in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 as they prepared to write their final exams.

Twenty-one of them were earlier released last October after negotiations between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government.

Two other girls were found separately, in addition to those who escaped on the night of their abduction.

With the latest release, about 80 Chibok girls are now being held by the Boko Haram.