The All Progressives Congress has asked the Federal Government to negotiate with the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, to secure the release of the kidnapped schoolgirls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
About two weeks ago, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, had in a video offered to release the girls in exchange for the sect’s detained members.
The Federal Government rejected the offer, with the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, saying the government would not engage in “trade by barter” in securing the release of the over 200 schoolgirls who had been held since April 14.
A debate had ensued over the Boko Haram offer, with the Northern Elders Forum, the Nigerian Bar Association and other prominent groups and persons urging the Federal Government to accept the proposal by the insurgents.
However, others, including the United Kingdom, have said the Federal Government should not negotiate with the terrorists.
But the APC, the largest opposition party in the country, has asked the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government to take up the offer.
The spokesman of the APC in the South-East, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, who spoke to our correspondent on Sunday, said the Federal Government should do everything humanly and legally possible, including negotiation, to bring back the schoolgirls.
Okechukwu noted that a military approach could endanger the lives of the schoolgirls.
Asked to state the stand of the APC on the offer, he said, “Whatever is humanly, whatever is legally possible should be done to get the girls back, including negotiation and diplomacy.
“Whatever could be done to bring the girls back, we are in support of it.
“If you decide to go in with armoured tanks, the girls could be harmed.
“If one were to be in the position of the President, we should ask them (Boko Haram) how many people they want and if the say 100 or 200, we should be ready to release them.
“If negotiation could work it should be explored to the fullest.
“It might even be the beginning of peace.”
The APC chieftain added that the government should consider the plight of the schoolgirls’ families, who he said are going through a traumatic period.
Continuing, he said, “The offer has been made – a lot of people in the presidency were doubting the abduction of the girls until Boko Haram showed the video.
“We can lose face as a people to negotiate with bandits but we are only doing that to bring back the girls.
“These (Boko Haram) are bandits and brigands, deranged people whose motives are opaque, whose motives are not in conformity to Islam, Christianity or even atheism.
“For the sake of the girls, every possible thing should be done to being them back.”