We didn’t pay a dime to free Dapchi girls, FG insists


President Buhari points to the only boy released when he received the Dapchi schoolgirls whose release was secured by his government from the captivity of Boko Haram on March 24, 2018.

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*Challenges claimers of paid ransom to produce evidence

*PDP’s politicisation of Dapchi girls’ kidnap earlier slammed

The Federal Government has insisted that it did not pay any ransom to secure the release of the Dapchi girls.

In a statement by his Special Assistant Segun Adeyemi, issued in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, challenged anyone who has any evidence of payment to publish such.

”It is not enough to say that Nigeria paid a ransom, little or huge. There must be a conclusive evidence to support such claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is: a mere conjecture,” the Minister said.

It will be recalled that on March 22 this year, the Presidency through a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, hit back at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those politicising the release of the abducted Dapchi school girls, saying the kidnap was never and could not have been orchestrated by the government.

He said the PDP was only “bellyaching” having run out of ideas on the criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The PDP, upon the abduction of the Dapchi girls, had rolled out drums saying Nigerians particularly the Buhari administration would no longer have to blame his past government by Goodluck Jonathan for security incompetence, as it claimed that Buhari now had his own Chibok in Dapchi.  But the moment the Buhari’s government secured the release of the 111 girls along with some other non-schoolgirl victims, the PDP rolled out another statement to say that the abduction and release of the victims were stage-managed.

They told Nigerians that if the Dapchi kidnap was not stage-managed, the government should have told them why security was relaxed at the time the insurgents were returning the girls to their school gate in the Yobe State community when they should attack them.

But the Nigeria’s Government now under a different party, APC, and a different person, Buhari, slammed the opposition, which has continued to be accused of taking Nigeria along unresolved security, economic and political challenges, saying it should explain to the good people of Nigeria whether it was not around when the government vowed to secure the girls and ensure the safe return and union with their families.  It added that worse damages would be recorded and yet might not achieve anything as the girls would have all died if government chose to use force.

In an explanation by then Director General of the Department of State Services, Mallam Lawal Musa Daura, the government fired back at the PDP saying it was not possible to stifle the process of release since it was based, singularly, on condition of security relax that negotiation was concluded as, according to him, doing so was not at variance with normal international practices of negotiation with insurgents.

It will be recalled how the United States of America released five Taliban commanders just to secure release of one American soldier.

But in Nigeria, some observers knocked the PDP for daring to even issue statement, after it had celebrated the misfortunes of the Dapchi girls kidnap saying Nigerians and Buhari would no longer be able to blame its past government on security incompetence, to have turned round to issue another statement upon release of the girls saying their abduction and release were stage-managed, whereas they should be rejoicing with their parents and state government and celebrating the competence of the Buhari’s Federal Government for releasing the girls under 30 days.

In the Presidency’s statement earlier, Garba Shehu, who spoke in a media interview night of the release (March 21, 2018) on the sidelines of the launch of the British Broadcasting Commission (BBC) bureau in Lagos said those tagging the kidnap of the school girls as a scam actually missed the point.

He said the PDP had thought the Buhari’s administration would treat the kidnap of the Dapchi girls the way its government handled the kidnap of over 200 Secondary School girls in Chibok in 2014.

Shehu tasked the PDP to challenge the government on the ongoing railway modernization, massive road construction instead of politicising issues of national security.

He excoriated the opposition party, saying it is becoming too reckless in its comments on matters of national security.

The presidential spokesman said, “The thing is that it is inconceivable that any leader with conscience will orchestrate this against its own people. But again this shouldn’t surprise us because we have seen it happening in America. When the Twin Towers were bombed, conspiracy theorists said that President Bush bombed the Twin Towers which killed 3000 people in order to undermine Islam or to create justification for the war against Iraq.

“So it is not surprising that conspiracy theorists would look at President Buhari and said that he orchestrated this. This did not happen. It is not true and it cannot happen. I think what is happening is that our political opponents especially PDP which has been very reckless on matters of national security.

“They thought the Dapchi girls would give them an easy pass to power and that President Buhari can be equated morally and politically to their rotten government. Now they have lost a plot. They have to go and look for how to win power. How can they beat Buhari in infrastructure? How can they beat Buhari in the fight against corruption? How can they beat Buhari in securing this country and beating back Boko Haram? Those are the challenges we give back to them.”

He said the most important thing is that the President was able to fulfil his promise not to leave any stone unturned to promptly secure the release of the girls.

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