Sunday, 24 January 2016

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged not
to facilitate the rescue of the over 200 abducted
Chibok schoolgirls being held captive by Boko
Haram through military operation.
A former Director at the Military Defence
Headquarters, Brigadier-General Ayodele Ojo
(retd.), advised the President to release Boko
Haram members in exchange for the schoolgirls
rather than use military operations to rescue them.
President Buhari, in a recent meeting with parents
of the girls, said the nation was anxious to have the
abductees back and later urged the military to use
the right strategy from the ground forces to rescue
the pupils.
“I had a meeting with the mothers and fathers of
the Chibok girls. The nation is anxiously waiting for
you to provide intelligence on their whereabouts
and then, the ground forces developing the
strategy and tactics to recover them,” Buhari had
said penultimate Friday, during a live chat with the
commanders and troops of Operation Lafiya Dole,
shortly after the wreath-laying ceremony of the
2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration
in Abuja.
However, Ojo told SUNDAY PUNCH that such
military efforts by the Federal Government troops
could jeopardise the girls’ safety.
“I personally will not canvass for a military rescue
operation. Such operation is fraught with danger,
no matter how meticulously or painstakingly
planned. Take, for instance, the United States’
military attempt in 1980 at a rescue operation of its
52 diplomats held hostage in Iran.
“Despite the planning that went into it, the rescue
operation not only failed, but it resulted in the
death of eight American soldiers and the
destruction of two of its military aircraft.
“Having this (botched US rescue operation) at the
back of our minds and relating it to getting the
Chibok girls back alive, the best option is to
negotiate for their release. In doing so, the
government should consider the possibility of
swapping. Fortunately the President is not averse
to negotiations,” Ojo said.
The ex-general suggested that, for the sake of the
schoolgirls, the Federal Government should look at
the possibility of acceding to Boko Haram’s
demand by releasing their bomb experts to them in
order to have the Chibok girls back home alive.
He noted that the US government once swapped
five top Taliban commanders in exchange for the
release of its soldier, Bowe Bergdahl.
Ojo added, “The Jordanian government was also
prepared to swap its pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh,
captured by the Islamic State with Sajida al-
Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber in the Jordanian
government custody since 2005, whose release
ISIS had demanded for.
“Please note that the failed suicide bomber had
been in Jordanian custody for nine good years. Yet,
they were prepared to swap her for their pilot. I
am, therefore, pleading with the Federal
Government to swap the Boko Haram bomb
experts with the Chibok girls.”

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