UN: FG Paid Large Ransom for Release of Dapchi Girls

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    •  Says cash economy aiding Boko Haram
    • No, we didn’t, insists Mohammed

    Vincent Obia

    A United Nations report has revealed that the Nigerian government paid huge sums in ransom to secure the release of the over 100 school girls kidnapped on February 19 by the Boko Haram terrorist group from Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.

    One hundred and ten girls aged between 11 and 19 were snatched from the school, but on March 21, the federal government announced that Boko Haram had retuned 106 of the girls, insisting that it paid no ransom for their safe return.

    But in the “Twenty-second report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team submitted pursuant to resolution 2368 (2017) concerning ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities,” which was submitted to the UN Security Council released July 27, 2018 but monitored thursday, the world body said a “large ransom” was paid by the Nigerian government to obtain release of the Dapchi schoolgirls.

    The report said, “In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.”

    It frowned on the payment of ransoms to terrorists, saying it fuels terrorism.

    According to the report signed by Coordinator of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, Edmund Fitton-Brown, and Chair of the Security Council Committee, Kairat Umarov, “Boko Haram (QDe.138) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have had a similar impact in their areas of control, including the Lake Chad basin.

    “The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.”

    The UN Security Council had last week expressed concern about the security and humanitarian catastrophe caused by Boko Haram and other armed groups in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. It said in a presidential statement, “The Security Council strongly condemns all terrorist attacks carried out in the region, including those perpetrated by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh).

    “These attacks have caused large-scale and devastating losses, have had a devastating humanitarian impact including through the displacement of a large number of civilians in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and represent a threat to the stability and peace of West and Central Africa.

    “The Council notes with particular concern the continuing use by Boko Haram of women and girls as suicide bombers, which has created an atmosphere of suspicion towards them and made them targets of harassment and stigmatisation in affected communities, and of arbitrary arrests by security forces.

    “The Council emphasises the need for affected States to counterterrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including by addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, in accordance with obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law.”

    No, We Didn’t, Insists Mohammed

    But the federal government, reacted swiftly last night, insisting no ransom was paid to secure the release of the Dapchi girls.

    In a statement in Ilorin, Kwara State, 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.

    Cash Economy Aiding Boko Haram

    The report also said the cash economy currently being operated by Nigeria is substantially aiding the activities of Boko Haram.

    The report on the activities of terrorist groups was submitted to the UN Security Council committee, according to TheCable, an online news portal.

    The sect was ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015.

    Since the insurgency started in 2009, the terrorist group has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes.

    The UN said the number of doctrinally based non-governmental organisations sending funds to local terrorist groups was growing, and member states were concerned that radicalisation was increasing the threat level.

    The report said, “Meanwhile, Boko Haram (QDe.138) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have had a similar impact in their areas of control, including the Lake Chad basin.

    “The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.

    “In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.”

    The report was signed by Edmund Fitton-Brown, coordinator, analytical support and sanctions monitoring team, and and Kairat Umarov, chair, security council committee.

    Fitton-Brown said the report was “comprehensive and independent.”

    The UN security council had last week said it remained concerned at the security and humanitarian situation caused by the Boko Haram terrorists and other armed groups in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

    In a presidential statement, the 15-country body said: “The security council strongly condemns all terrorist attacks carried out in the region, including those perpetrated by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh).

    “These attacks have caused large-scale and devastating losses, have had a devastating humanitarian impact including through the displacement of a large number of civilians in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and represent a threat to the stability and peace of West and Central Africa.

    “The council notes with particular concern the continuing use by Boko Haram of women and girls as suicide bombers, which has created an atmosphere of suspicion towards them and made them targets of harassment and stigmatisation in affected communities, and of arbitrary arrests by security forces.

    “The council emphasises the need for affected states to counter-terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including by addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, in accordance with obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law.

    “The security council remains deeply concerned at the grave security situation and related violations and abuses of human rights in parts of Central Africa, in particular the continuing terrorist activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin.

    “The security council expresses its ongoing concern at continued tensions linked to disputed electoral processes, social and economic difficulties, and conflicts between farmers and herders.”

    The 15-member council noted that UNOCA’s priorities would include working closely with UNOWAS to address trans-regional issues such as maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, conflict between farmers and herders, and combating Boko Haram.