NewsWest AfricaNigeria: Kidnapped girls found, but negotiation only viable option


Posted on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 12:07

Nigeria: Kidnapped girls found, but negotiation only viable option

By Konye Obaji Ori

Air Marshal Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s chief of defense staff. Photo©ReutersAfter spotting the location of over 270 Nigerian girls kidnapped by radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, military officials believe negotiations, rather than force, would be the preferred approach to rescue the girls.


"The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are," Air Marshal Alex Badeh, Nigeria's chief of defense told a crowd of demonstrators gathered in front of the Defense Ministry headquarters in the capital city of Abuja.

We can't go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back

According to Badeh, negotiation was the sole option, as the use of force could result in the death of the girls.

"We can't go and kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back," he said.

While negotiations seem to be the most plausible option, most governments are opposed to negotiations with terrorists.

Boko Haram's initial terms have been clear: The release of its members imprisoned by the Nigerian government in exchange for the kidnapped girls.

However, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called off a plan to exchange Boko Haram members for the kidnapped girls.

Releasing members of Boko Haram to rejoin the insurgency and potentially carry out more attacks could be poorly perceived.

Negotiating with Boko Haram- a determined, well-armed and fanatical group, would be challenging.

The Islamic group will want substantive concessions, which the Nigerian government may be reluctant to give.

Boko Haram's eccentricity makes it probably too dangerous for most negotiators to meet them face to face.

Some options are that the Nigerian government could use representatives from neighbouring countries like Chad, Cameroon or Niger or even somewhere further like Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Qatar.

Hostage negotiators from America are in place but can only assist from behind the scenes.

As established by experts, Boko Haram representatives must show proof of life and proof of ownership, while representatives of the government must communicate trust for the process of hostage negotiation to even begin.

British risk consultancy firm TerraFirma argues Nigeria must make absolutely certain that the people representing Boko Haram in the negotiations are the ones actually holding the girls.

On April 15, more than 300 teenagers were abducted from their school in the town Chibok.

America, Britain, France, China, Israel and other countries have provided expert surveillance and support in efforts to rescue the kidnapped girls.

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