Rawlings Begs Boko Haram
The abducted girls
Former President Jerry John Rawlings has joined the worldwide ‘bring back our daughters’ campaign as he pleads with the abductors of the over 200 Nigerian girls to release them.
As though communicating directly with the leader of the militant Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, Jerry said, ‘I am in the name of Allah pleading for the return of the girls to their families.’
Mr. Rawlings’ plea was contained in a statement he released yesterday.
The Islamist grouping, he said, had made its point but was quick to add that, ‘However making such a point at the expense of the lives of innocent people – men, women and children – is simply unacceptable.’
After recently encouraging President Goodluck Jonathan not to accept international intervention, he made an about-turn when he said in the statement, ‘While welcoming the international intervention, it is equally important to look into the root causes that give rise to these developments.’
Military might and force are not enough to overcome terrorists with conviction, he added.
Former President Rawlings’ statement comes on the heels of a rare video clip of the abducted girls beamed across the world.
It was the first glimpse of the girls since their abduction on April 14.
The video clip was not the kind of impression that could mitigate the pain of the depressed parents of the girls whose nightmare is now being shared by the rest of the world.
The 17-minute video, palpably intended to force the authorities to a negotiated settlement, has intermittent display of some of the girls nervously speaking to the cameras.
The video clipping comes a day or so after the Borno State Governor, Shettima Kasim, said he had information about the location of the abducted girls – intelligence he said he had passed on to the military authorities.
Abubakar Shekau, a vacillating personality after earlier threatening to sell off the girls, is now ready for a prisoner exchange.
‘All I am saying is that if you want us to release the girls that we have kidnapped, those who have not accepted Islam will be treated as the Prophet (Mohammed) treated infidels and they will stay with us,’ he said, according to a translation of his words originally spoken in a Nigerian language.
‘We will not release them while you detain our brothers,’ he said, before naming a series of cities in Nigeria.
It was not clear whether he was in the same location as the girls.
The video came through channels that had provided previous messages from Shekau, who speaks in the video in the Hausa language of northern Nigeria.
Ghanaian women last Sunday joined what is now an international fraternity, seeking the return of the abducted girls – an exercise which culminated in the submission of a petition to the Nigerian envoy’s representative.
By A.R. Gomda with additional Agency reports
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