The International Committee of Red Cross Society (ICRC) has debunked insinuations that it took part in the negotiations between the federal government of Nigeria and Boko Haram terrorists for the release of Chobok girls.
On the night of 15 April 2014, 276 mostly Christian female students aged from 16 to 18 were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria.
Prior to the raid, the school had been closed for four weeks due to deteriorating security conditions, but the girls were in attendance in order to take final exams in physics.
It was not until May 2016 that the first girl was found. A few others have also managed to escape over the years. Between 2016 and 2018, 103 of the victims were freed following negotiations between the Nigerian government and the militants.
Head of Delegation, International Conference of Red Cross Society, Mr. Yann Bonzon, at a press conference organised by Human Rights Commission to mark the International Day of the Disappeared persons (missing and kidnapped victims) said the ICRC was only involved in the provision of logistics support with other stakeholders of the international community.
Yann, who was responding to questions from journalists on why the ICRC has stopped talks with armed men for the release of the remaining kidnapped victims, said the ICRC only “provided logistics support with other stakeholders as the negotiations were ongoing which was part of its humanitarian mandates.
“I just want to say that ICRC has not been negotiating. ICRC has provided as a humanitarian organisation with this particular mandate, neutrality, the logistical support when that time negotiation were ongoing, with the authorities of Nigeria and abductors, for the release of those victims many years ago,” Yann said.
Yann decried the continued rise of missing persons in Nigeria, especially in the North East, where he said the ongoing conflict in the region continued to have “devastating impacts on the people of the country”.
He said: “Nigeria, unfortunately, has the largest number of missing persons ever registered by the International Committee of the Red Cross in Africa since the beginning of the country in 2009, more than 25,000 persons were reported missing to International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nigerian Red Cross Society.
“This includes more than 2000 cases that were registered after January 2021. The number of missing persons continue to rise every day. Yet, the ICRC noticed that this figure represent a fraction of a wider undocumented humanitarian tragedy.
“Furthermore, I would like to highlight that these figures reveal a very alarming fact that children are particularly more vulnerable than adults to disagreements in Nigeria as the conflicts continues raging the country.
“More than half of the missing persons registered by the International Committee of the Red Cross the Nigerian Red Cross Society in northeast Nigeria were minors. At the time of disagreements.
“We need immediate action that matches the scale and urgency of this humanitarian tragedy.”
The executive secretary, National Human Rights Commission NHRC, Anthony Ojukwu, said the EndSars panel was established by the National Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the national economic council in all the states.
“They were targeted at taking care of issues of human rights violations, cases of of disappeared persons, to deal with issues of extortion, issues of extra judicial killing, issues of corruption and all kinds of human rights violation,” Ojukwu said.
“This is the biggest effort by Nigeria in the history of human rights violation. I have never seen a government set up panel in about 29 States looking into the issues of human rights violation, it has never happened before.
“The lagos State panel had paid compensations to victims of human rights. Last November this commission paid about N146m to victims of human rights violations. In the next one month we are going to pay about N300m to victims of human rights violation.
“This is a ground breaking effort which has never been done in this country before. With the coming on board of the ministry of Humanitarian affairs and the Secretary to the Government of the federation office with the icrc, there are better days ahead in dealing with issues of human rights violation.”