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FG Should Not Bow to Boko Haram’s Demand — Poll

An overwhelming number of Nigerians are of the view that the President Goodluck Jonathan-led Federal Government should not release detained Boko Haram members in exchange for the 234 girls abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14.

In a well-circulated video showing some of the abducted girls, the leader of the violent Islamist sect, Abubakar Shekau, had given the proposal as a condition for the release of the abducted pupils.

Respondents, in a poll conducted by Punch Online on the question ‘Should the FG agree to Boko Haram’s proposal to free detained terrorists before the sect releases the 234 abducted Chibok schoolgirls?’ voted overwhelmingly that it would be a wrong step for the FG to succumb to such a demand.

The poll opened on May 15, 2014.

At the end of the poll on May 23, 2014, one thousand and seventy seven respondents had taken part, choosing either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the poll question.

The outcome showed that 869 respondents, representing 81 per cent, agree that the FG should not exchange detained members of the sect for the abducted schoolgirls.

Conversely, 208 respondents, which represent 19 per cent, think that the prisoner swap option is a reasonable step to bring back the girls.

Speaking on Amanpour, a talk show programme on CNN, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, had said government should negotiate with Boko Haram.

He said, “The issue of not negotiating with the terrorists – it’s out of the question; if it means talking to the devil, it means the devil can come down, we can get back our girls.”

Indeed, the 208 respondents must have reasoned along the line of Shettima.

The respondents, too, apparently share the views of a North-based human rights activist and President, Civil Rights Congress, Shehu Sanni, who believes FG should negotiate with Boko Haram and consider its option for releasing the Chibok girls.

In an exclusive interview with Punch, Sanni had opined that there were two ways to free the girls from their captors – one is force and the other is negotiation.

He said, “We need to understand that any attempt to use force is most likely to end in a disaster.

“The lives of the girls should be more important to us than the conditions attached to their release.

“The State of Israel released about 300 Palestinians because of one Israeli soldier abducted by a group regarded as a terrorist group. They valued the life of the soldier over the lives of the detainees.”

Conversely, the 869 respondents must have aligned their thoughts with that of another human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), who insists that the schoolgirls are not prisoners, and so a prisoner swap situation doesn’t arise.

Falana said, “From legal point of view, the abducted girls are not prisoners of war. They are not soldiers of the Nigerian Army; therefore, there is no lawful ground for such a demand.”

The FG is however yet to make its decision on the issue public.

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