Expert advises FG on Boko Haram offer on Chibok girls

A leading expert on terrorism in the United Kingdom, Dr. Afzal Ashraf, on Saturday advised the Federal Government to critically examine issues before taking decision on the prisoner swap offer by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

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The group had in a purportedly new video asked the Federal Government to release its members in prison custody in exchange for some of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

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But Ashraf, who worked as counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategist for the United States commanding general, in an email exchange with our correspondent, noted that the Federal Government would have to balance principle against pragmatic gains to make a difficult decision.

He said, “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.”

Asked if the Federal Government should accept the offer of prisoner swap by Boko Haram, Ashraf said, “This is a difficult question. Some governments will not deal with terrorists.”

He said, “Others make a case by case decision to pay ransoms, conduct prisoner swaps . The main reason for refusing to deal with terrorists is the belief that by doing so, it encourages kidnapping and the taking of hostages.

“Also, releasing terrorists from prison increases the number of dangerous killers able to threaten the peace of communities.”

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