The government of Nigeria has released a statement describing repeated and unsuccessful efforts to negotiate with Boko Haram for the return of 200 girls who were kidnapped from a school in Chibok more than two years ago, The New York Times reports.
Officials revealed that negotiations with the jihadist group began in July 2015, shortly after the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Talks fell apart three times. In the first instance, the government agreed to release a number of Boko Haram fighters who had been involved in major terrorist attacks, in exchange for the girls, “believing that the overall release of these girls remains paramount and sacrosanct.” The president balked, however, when Boko Haram issued a last-minute set of demands that had not been previously discussed.
In November 2015, talks failed because important members of Boko Haram’s negotiating team had been killed. In December 2015, the government backed out of its negotiations because it once again could not comply with the group’s demands.
The statement promises that despite these failures, the government will continue to pursue the release of the kidnapped girls. “[S]ecurity agencies have not only remained committed,” it says, “but have also taken the lead to resolve the Chibok girls’ issue, in spite of the current division among members of the terrorist group, which has seriously affected the efforts.”
By publicizing details of its negotiations with Boko Haram, the government seeks to quell criticism over its perceived lack of effort to retrieve the Chibok girls, and its failure to keep families informed about the rescue initiatives.
Read the full story at The New York Times.