15 May 2014

Nigeria: Schoolgirls - Jonathan Rejects Boko Haram Prisoner Swap

Photo: This Day
Boko Haram and Amnesty Group

President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected the idea of a swap of Boko Haram prisoners for schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Boko Haram group a month ago, Britain's minister for Africa said after talks with him in Abuja yesterday.

"He made it very clear that there would be no negotiations with Boko Haram that involved a swap of abducted schoolgirls for prisoners," Mark Simmonds told a news conference, according to Reuters news agency.

Boko Haram which is holding more than 200 girls posted a video on Monday offering to release them in exchange for prisoners held by the government.

The militants stormed a secondary school in Chibok, Borno state on April 14 and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Some have managed to escape, but about 200 remain missing.

The abductions have triggered a worldwide social media campaign under the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, and prompted the United States, Britain, France and Israel to offer help or send experts to Nigeria.

Britain offered further help to Nigeria including a surveillance plane and the offer was accepted, Simmonds said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday said it is still studying the content of the video released by the Boko Haram.

Information Minister Labaran Maku told journalists in Abuja that yesterday's Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting extensively discussed the video.

Maku noted that the government was ready to go to any length to ensure the release of the abducted schoolgirls.

"We've seen the video clip; we're studying it to be sure of its content. We're also looking into the statements that accompanied the clip," he said.

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