5th February, 2020
The Buhari presidency has reacted to claims by a spokesman of the Christian Association of Nigeria that the government has refused to pay ransom to Boko Haram to free Leah Sharibu because she is a Christian.
The statement credited to CAN’s Director of Legal and Public Affairs, Kwamkur Samuel appeared to suggest that the government had paid ransom to quickly free Dapchi girls because majority of them were muslim and did not pay ransom for Chibok girls because they were Christians.
“Nigerians need to know, if they have not known the reason why the Presidency could not pay ransom to rescue Chibok girls. It is because 80% to 90% of the girls are Christians. The reason why Dapchi girls’ ransom was quickly paid and they were returned is the discovery that most of the girls were Muslims except Leah Sharibu who is still in captivity,” Samuel said.
The Presidency issued a stout denial of the ransom claim.
“We are again constrained to react to unfounded allegations by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) about the payment or non-payment of ransom for the release of the Chibok and Dapchi schoolgirls.
“When the media in August 2018 quoted a United Nations Report alleging that the Federal Government paid a “huge ransom” for the release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls on March 21, 2018, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, immediately disputed the report, insisting that no ransom was paid, “little or huge.” According to the Minister, “There must be a conclusive evidence to support such a claim. Without that, the claim remains what it is – a mere conjecture.”
“And we ask, “Who should Nigerians or CAN rather believe, if there is good faith?
“We urge CAN to desist from disinformation which can further divide Nigerians. The letter and spirit of the Holy Bible do not support discord, which CAN’s allegations are liable to cause.
“The Christian body need not be antagonistic to every attempt by the administration to move Nigeria forward, before it can champion or defend the Christian faith.
“President Muhammadu Buhari made it very clear in 2015 that if ransom needed to be paid to free the Chibok schoolgirls, he would pay. That is a testament to his commitment to get the girls back.
“Notwithstanding our different faiths, we are all stakeholders in the promotion of peace in our fatherland. And the Holy Bible enjoins us to, “Seek peace, and pursue it.”
The statement was the third engagement between CAN and the Presidency in the last 24 hours, as government tries to delink religious underpinnings in the insurgency, kidnapping and banditry in the country.