Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bokom Haram Got FCFA 30 billion to Free Seven French Hostages?

 
French Government has debunked allegations that President Paul Biya paid FCFA 30 billion for the release of French tourists abducted in Cameroon and taken to Nigeria by members of Boko Haram on April 19, 2013. In an exclusive interview with Jeune Afrique French foreign Minister said no ransom was paid for the release of Moulin-Fournier (seven) who were set free on April 19, after two months in captivity. Laurent Fabius also refuted allegations that Paul Biya had asked for a policy consideration in exchange for the negotiations. "At no time," says Mr. Fabius. "After the kidnapping, I contacted President Goodluck Jonathan (Nigeria) and Paul Biya (Cameroon). They were very attentive and wanted to be involved in finding the resolution to this tragic situation".  Laurent Fabius however added that "We respect the rule laid down by the President of the Republic of France that we do not pay ransom”. Accordingly, he said that if ransom is paid, it will mean “exposing even more of our citizens".
On the other hand, French Prime Minister Jeam Marc Ayraul is also quoted to have denied information of i-TV that a ransom was paid for the release of the seven hostages.
Citing "operational sources in Cameroon and Nigeria, the French news channel said they were released in exchange for a ransom of $ 7 million and the release of 16 inmates of the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram. According to i-TV, the ransom would be paid through Cameroon’s President Paul Biya" or by GDF-Suez group Moulin-Fournier, employer of one of the hostages, Tanguy. However, Reuters also revealed that
Boko Haram were paid N500 million ($3.15 million) to free seven French hostages kidnapped in February, a confidential document from the Nigerian government available to Reuters states.
The document, according to Reuters, did not state who paid the ransom although French and Cameroonian authorities denied that any ransom was paid. Apart from the money the insurgents were paid, the document states, Cameroonian authorities also released some Boko Haram suspects in detention as part of the deal.
The sect had threatened, in a video released on YouTube in March, to kill the hostages unless Nigeria and Cameroon release some of its members in custody.
The report also states that Abubakar Shekau, the sect’s leader had asked for N1 billion to free the hostages but finally accepted half of the money, after agreeing to the release of his members in Cameroonian jails as part of the deal.
French President, Francois Hollande, denied that any ransom was paid when the hostages were released, same as Cameroonian authorities. No one has, however, said what got the insurgents to release the hostages. According to Reuters, the report suggests that the ransom was paid because officials did not want to endanger the lives of the hostages in a rescue attempt; after a rescue attempt last year March to save a Briton and an Italian hostage kidnapped by another Nigerian sect, Ansaru, led to the death of the hostages and in Cameroon rumours say Cameroon disbursed FCFA 30 billion for the release of the seven French nationals after two months in captivity.

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

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