A new report by the United Nations says the Federal Government paid a substantial ransom to secure the release of the over 100 schoolgirls kidnapped from their school in Dapchi, Yobe State by suspected Boko Haram terrorists.
The UN report contradicts the statement of the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, that the girls were freed with no money paid.
“It is not true that we paid ransom for the release of the Dapchi girls, neither was there a prisoner swap to secure their release,” Mohammed had said in March.
The UN report however said kidnapping for ransom remains one of the main sources of funding of Boko Haram activities and other terrorist groups in the Lake Chad Basin region. Apart from the Dapchi girls, many others have also been abducted in the North East by the Boko Haram and other insurgents.
The report, titled “22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, pursuant to resolution 2368 (2017) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL – (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities”, was submitted to the Security Council Committee.
It said “Meanwhile, Boko Haram (QDe.138) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) have had a similar impact in their areas of control, including the Lake Chad basin.
“The predominance in the region of the cash economy, without controls, is conducive to terrorist groups funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.
“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment.”
The report added that the number of doctrinally based non-governmental organisations sending funds to local terrorist groups was growing, and Member States were concerned that radicalisation was increasing the threat level in the Sahel.
This comes as the Security Council’s 15 members subjected Boko Haram to UN sanctions, including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban, saying it remained concerned at the security and humanitarian situation caused by the Boko Haram terrorists and other armed groups in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.