UN official speaks on report Nigeria paid ransom to free Dapchi girls

A United Nations (UN) official on Friday spoke on a report submitted to the UN Security Council that showed Nigeria paid ransom to free scores of schoolgirls kidnapped in Dapchi, Yobe State,

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, said the report was by an “independent committee” and he has no “concrete evidence at this time to qualify such a statement.”

The report, first published by the News Agency of Nigeria, said such ransom was one of the ways Boko Haram and other terror groups raise funds.

The report was titled “22nd Report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team”, was carried out (in) pursuance of a UN resolution 2368 (2017) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL – (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities.

The Nigerian government, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday restated its stance that no ransom was paid contrary to the UN report.

About 111 Dapchi girls were kidnapped in February this year by the Boko Haram terror group, with majority, about 105, released about a month after negotiations with the government. One of the girls, Leah Sharibu, is still with the Boko Haram after she reportedly refused to denounce her Christian faith.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Maiduguri, Borno State, to mark the 2018 World Humanitarian day, Mr Kallon said the report on the ransom was not authored by the UN.

The official and the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, jointly addressed the press at the latter’s office on the ongoing humanitarian situation in the state.

Asked by PREMIUM TIMES if he was aware of the report, the UN official said, “We have just seen those reports, but (what) I want to emphasise is that we are here in Nigeria and we are committed to work with the government to address the needs of people that have been in this unfortunate situations of conflict. And that is our priority focus.”

The official did not, however, disprove the content of the report or agree with the stance of the Nigerian government.

“I really don’t get distracted by some of these independent report that are coming out; and I don’t have any concrete evidence at this time to qualify such a statement.

“But all I can tell you is that it is a report of an independent committee.”

Earlier, the UN humanitarian coordinator said in his statement that this year’s humanitarian day commemoration, just like the previous year, was held to mark the attack on the UN in Baghdad of which 22 UN humanitarian workers were killed.

“Since the tragedy,” he said “over 4000 humanitarian workers have been killed, injured, detained or kidnapped.”

Mr. Kallon said the global figure of attack on humanitarian workers includes that of Borno State during which five humanitarians (three in Rann, one in Ngala and one in Damasak) were killed this year, while three others were abducted in the ongoing Boko Haram conflict.

He said about 26,000 people have been killed, while thousands of women and girls have been abducted or used as suicide bombers by the Boko Haram.

He called on Nigerian leaders to “do everything in their power to protect the people caught up in conflict.”

“And I call on all who are concerned to join our campaign to show that civilians are #NotATarget,” he said.