Onaiyekan backs swap deal to free remaining Chibok girls

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The Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has urged the Federal Government to explore all possible avenues, including swap deals, to ensure the release of the remaining Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents more than two years ago.

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He spoke with journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Friday.

On the denial by the Federal Government that the release of the 21 Chiboks girls on Thursday was through a swap deal, the cardinal urged the Federal Government to be transparent and tell Nigerians the truth.

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According to him, there was nothing to be ashamed of if the Federal Government indeed secured their release through a swap deal.

Onaiyekan said, “I do not know the conditions for their release. I do not know if the government released some detained Boko Haram insurgents. But if what it took to release those poor innocent girls was to release Boko Haram terrorists, we should have allowed those criminals to go since. We should not have waited until now.

“I hope that those who are advising the government and speaking on its behalf will realise the gravity and interest this matter has generated everywhere. If Nigerians are asking questions, they know that out there (abroad) they are asking even more questions.

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“It is sad that some of these girls have been married off and that some of them have died through air raids but the government has been celebrating the release of the 21 girls and had not been saying anything about the ordeals of those married of

“At least, 150 are still not accounted for, so we have not started. If the release of the 21 girls is a sign that we have started discussing with Boko Haram, then we have just begun and we should continue the discussion until the full story is told.”

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He advised Nigerians against focusing too much on the alleged acts of omission or commission of the government in the matter, while losing sight of the fact that Boko Haram is the one actually responsible for the abduction.

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