Lai Mohammed announces that government has been in ceasefire talks with Boko Haram before Dapchi girls were released.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, disclosed this in Lagos at a media briefing to give update and clarifications on the release of the schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe state.
The minister said there were no conspiracy theories as to how the insurgents were able to return the schoolgirls to Dapchi un-attacked despite troops presence.
“Unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now,” he said.
“The talks helped to secure the release of the police officers’ wives and the University of Maiduguri lecturers recently. And the talks did not stop thereafter.
“Therefore, we were able to leverage on the wider talks when the Dapchi girls were abducted.
“As I said earlier, the insurgents decided to return the girls to where they picked them from as a goodwill gesture.
“All they demanded was a ceasefire that will grant them a safe corridor to drop the girls. This is not new.
“Even in larger war situations, safe corridors are usually created for humanitarian and other purposes.
“Consequently, a week-long ceasefire was declared, starting from Monday, March 19. That is why the insurgents were able to drop the girls.
“This counters the conspiracy theories being propounded in some quarters concerning why it was so easy for the insurgents to drop off the girls without being attacked by the military.”
The minister reiterated that the government neither paid ransom nor swapped any Boko Haram member to secure the release of the girls.
“This is a fact, irrespective of how a section of the press has tried to spin the story,” he said.
“The insurgents brought the girls back to the location of the kidnapping themselves as an apparent gesture of goodwill.
“This follows relentless efforts by the Government to find long-lasting solutions to the conflict.”
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed all security agencies to do everything possible to bring the girls back unharmed.
Mohammed said the president’s directive dictated the method adopted: back-channel talks with international friends as mediators.