276 schoolgirls were abducted from a Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, two years ago.
Two weeks ago, 21 of the girls were released following negotiations brokered by the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“The Federal Government is in the final stages of negotiations to set free more of the girls. We are looking at getting more than 80 out of Boko Haram custody this time”, said one Presidency source who pleaded for anonymity for this story.
Asked when the next batch will be received by the government and people of Nigeria, the source said: “Soon…soon enough. Nigerians will have cause to celebrate soon enough”.
Another security source spoken to for this story told Pulse that a swap deal with the insurgents is on the cards.
“We aren’t ruling out a swap for the simple reason that Boko Haram is using these girls as bargaining chips. The girls are all they have now. If we bombard the place with drones to rescue the girls, Boko Haram will use them as human shields and we could lose some of the girls.
"We’ll probably be exchanging 14 Boko Haram commanders for 84 Chibok girls”, offered the top security source.
According to another source within the Presidency, the Federal Government has stepped up efforts to have all the girls rescued before Christmas.
There is renewed confidence within the corridors of power that having established authentic communication channels with Boko Haram heads, all the girls will return home soon enough.
“We just want all the girls back”, said another military source. “Once we have them, we can then move to crush Boko Haram once and for all. We have practically decimated and degraded the sect and they know this”.
A Presidency source added: “We are negotiating from a position of strength right now because we have the sect by the balls. Very soon, Nigerians will have cause to cheer again”.
Lai Mohammed who is the Minister of Information and Culture, had expressed confidence that more Chibok girls will soon regain their freedom after the first batch of 21 made their way out of Boko Haram custody.
“We see this as a credible first step in the eventual release of all the Chibok girls in captivity. It is also a major step in confidence-building between us as a government and the Boko Haram leadership on the issue of the Chibok girls,” Mohammed had said.
There have been reports that a swap deal between Boko Haram and the Federal Government was struck before the first batch of 21 made their way out of Sambisa forest.
Officially, the Federal Government has denied it entered into a swap arrangement with the insurgents. However, intelligence sources and back channels have maintained that there was indeed a swap.