On 30th October 2014, Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of recent developments in Nigeria, with particular reference to the terrorist activities of Boko Haram. The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Lichfield: My Lords, what does the Minister make of the claims recently made by journalists that the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are being held as trophies for various tribal leaders, as is apparently common in these regions, and that they will be released as soon as some way is found to flatter these leaders?
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I have read those reports. Anyone who is kidnapped in any situation is a bargaining chip. The difficulty is knowing with whom one strikes the bargain and at what price for all.
In the House of Lords on 14th May 2014 Lord Bach asked Her Majesty’s Government “what action they have taken to assist the Government of Nigeria to rescue the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev John Pritchard, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, would the Minister agree with the comments made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury last weekend to the effect that, however abhorrent we may feel the organisation to be, it is necessary to engage in some way with Boko Haram and to do that at different levels? If that is the case, would the Minister give some indication of what kind of support or encouragement the Government are giving to that dialogue between Boko Haram and the Government of Nigeria?
Baroness Warsi: The most reverend Primate’s comments about negotiations or discussions with Boko Haram are quite right and, as the right reverend Prelate says, they are certainly something which the Nigerian Government have to take forward. I know that he has a considerable history of dealing with this kind of situation in Nigeria and, indeed, of being involved in mediation processes. However, the message that HMG have been strongly sending out, along with our international partners, is that this is an abhorrent crime, that the girls must be returned unconditionally and that this is not something we need to feel that Boko Haram has negotiating power over. There is a longer-term challenge in relation to tackling Boko Haram but I am not sure that that needs to be done over the lives of these young girls.