Friday, 15 January 2016

Buhari orders fresh probe into Chibok girls’ abduction

Almost two years after their abduction, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday ordered a fresh investigation into the case of the 219 schoolgirls seized from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.This was contained in a statement by the Senior
Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu.

He quoted the President as announcing this while meeting parents of the abducted girls, representatives of the Chibok community and members of the Bring Back Our Girls movement at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The girls were kidnapped on the night of April 14, 2014 during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan had in the wake of the abduction set up a 26-member fact-finding committee led by Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Sabo (retd.), to investigate the matter.

Shehu, however, said the Buhari panel that would investigate the incident would soon be named by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno.

“The investigation will seek to, among other things, unravel the remote and immediate circumstances leading to the kidnap of the girls by Boko Haram terrorists as well as the other events, actions and inactions that followed the incident,” the statement read.

Shehu added that the President assured parents of the Chibok girls that he had been doing his best and would continue to do everything possible to rescue them and re-unite them with their families.

He further quoted Buhari as saying that he remained fully committed to his pledge to do all within his powers to save the girls.

Buhari was quoted as saying, “I assure you that I go to bed and wake up every day with the Chibok girls on my mind.

“The unfortunate incident happened before this government came into being.

“What have we done since we assumed office? We re-organised the military, removed all the service chiefs and ordered the succeeding service chiefs to deal decisively with the Boko Haram insurgency.

“In spite of the terrible economic condition we found ourselves in, we tried to get some resources to give to the military to reorganise and equip, retrain, deploy more troops and move more forcefully against Boko Haram.

“And you all know the progress we have made. When we came in Boko Haram was in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states. Boko Haram has now been reduced to areas around Lake Chad.

“Securing the Chibok girls is my responsibility. The service chiefs and heads of our security agencies will tell you that in spite of the dire financial strain we found the country in, I continue to do my best to support their efforts in that regard.

“This is a Nigeria where we were exporting an average of two million barrels per day at over $140 per barrel. Now it is down to about $27 to $30.

“You have been reading in the press how they took public funds, our funds, your funds and shared it, instead of buying weapons. That was the kind of leadership I succeeded. That was the kind of economy I inherited.

“God knows I have done my best and I will continue to do my best.”

Shehu also quoted the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, as saying that in the last three months, the military had liberated more than 3,000 people kidnapped by Boko Haram in the north-eastern part of the country.

He said that the military had the ability to rescue the Chibok girls, but added that “intelligence is delicate and we don’t want to ​do ​ anything to jeopardise the lives of the girls.”

Earlier, the Leader of the campaigners, Mrs. Oby Ezkwesili, had told reporters that the President told them that he had no credible information on the current location of the abducted girls.

Going forward, the former minister of education said her group would continue to demand for the action that is necessary to rescue the girls.

A drama had played out in the morning when the campaigners arrived the Presidential Villa and realised that Buhari was not scheduled to meet them as expected.

Rather, the President had sent a government delegation led by the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Al-Hassan, to receive the protesters on his behalf at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa because he was hosting the visiting President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi..

Al-Hassan had set the tone of the meeting when she said the government delegation would first listen to representatives of the BBOG and the girls’ parents before she and other members of her team would respond appropriately.

But the highly infuriated Ezekwesili told the government delegation that comprised the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Alli; National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongunu; and the Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonishakin, that they would not speak to any other person apart from the President.

“We had a meeting with the President on July 8 (2015) and he made some promises. We are here to listen to him. We are going to wait until he is ready to see us,” she said.

The leader of the parents also said the same thing when he was called to address the government officials.

When all efforts made to pacify the delegation did not yield any positive result, the government delegation sent a message to the President.

Immediately Yayi left, the President changed his mind and decided to meet the protesters personally. The message was thereafter passed to the protesters.

On his arrival at about 1.47pm, journalists were asked to leave the venue to allow the President speak and listen to the campaigners.

He left the venue about an hour later.

Meanwhile, before the President resolved to meet the protesters, Ezekwesili had had a confrontation with the minister of women affairs whom she accused of not being fair to the parents of the abducted girls with the way she spoke to them.

She said the minister was busy chiding the already traumatised parents in her choice of words.

This, she observed, was unlike the minister of defence, NSA and the CDS whose tones, she said, connected with the parents.



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