Boko Haram: UK Terror Expert Advises FG; Ex General Calls for Negotiations
Dr. Afzal Ashraf, a leading expert on terrorism in the United Kingdom, has advised the Federal Government to critically weigh its options before taking a decision on the prisoner swap offer by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Ashraf, who worked as counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency strategist for the United States commanding general, said that the FG would have to balance principle against pragmatic gains before embarking on any course of action.
“At the end of the day it may just come down to the fact that news pictures of government officials and relieved parents welcoming back their long lost girls will eclipse any criticism or disadvantage of the decision to deal with terrorists.
“After all, for the girls involved and their families, any price is worth paying to deliver them from the hell of the barbaric Boko Haram.”
He pointed out that government may be reluctant to deal with terrorists, and for good reasons.
“Also, releasing terrorists from prison increases the number of dangerous killers able to threaten the peace of communities.”
Meanwhile, a former Director at the Army Defence Headquarters, Brigadier General Ayodele Ojo (retd.), has called on the Federal Government to negotiate separately with Boko Haram’s two factions in order to facilitate the safe return of the Chibok girls.
Following a rift in its leadership, the Islamic State militant group, ISIS, had named Abu Musab al-Barnawi as new leader of the group, only for Abubakar Shekau to dismiss the pronouncement in a video message days later, insisting he remained the true head of the terrorists.
And in light of Shekau’s proposal to exchange the schoolgirls for its detained fighters, FG was reported to be in a dilemma on which faction to negotiate with, Punch writes.
“The fact that Boko Haram has expressed its willingness to negotiate should be seen as a window of opportunity that should be exploited,” Ojo said.
“The breakup of the sect into two factions should not necessarily constitute an impediment to negotiation. I suggest that the Federal Government should constitute a committee made up of seasoned and credible Nigerians to negotiate separately on its behalf with the two factions.
“A third party should be involved in the negotiation. This arrangement will engender trust in the negotiation and at the same time eliminate fear of non-compliance with the agreement reached.”
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