BBOG Continues March For Chibok Girls’ Release In Abuja, Lagos

BBOG Continues March For Chibok Girls' Release In Abuja, LagosThe Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group on Thursday continued its week-long activities in Abuja and Lagos, to mark the third anniversary of the Chibok girls’ abduction.

The march was dominated with school children who came out to show solidarity with the school girls who were abducted in April 2014 from a secondary school in Chibok community of Borno State, north-east Nigeria.

Just as in the previous days, the leaders of the BBOG movement trooped out to express their displeasure over what they called the “delay in the rescue of the girls”.

They also raised concerns about the condition of the 24 girls that have regained their freedom from the Boko Haram terrorists, and sought to know how they are being treated.

Speaking to Channels Television in Lagos, one of the BBOG conveners, Aisha Oyebode, asked government to ensure the security of Nigerians and school children in particular.

“We want safety in our schools, but we want the government to be accountable for every Nigerian child; not just in the northern part of the country but across the whole country,” she said.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, said the menace of the terrorist group was a great challenge to the resolve of his administration to implement the Change Agenda.

He, however, stated government’s resolve to secure the release of the Chibok girls and others who were forcefully abducted from their homes and communities, as well as retake the territories occupied by the terrorists.

President Buhari also expressed appreciation to “the parents and families that have endured three years of agony and (still) waiting for the return of their children”.

Nigeria Says Negotiations Ongoing To Release More Chibok Girls

Boko Haram, Chibok Girls, Lai MohammedThe Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, says negotiations are ongoing for the release of the Chibok girls and other abductees with the Boko Haram terrorists.

The minister also expressed optimism that the dialogues would yield the desired results in due course.

His remarks were in response to comments made by the Bring Back Our Girls group after a tour of the northeast operations.

BBOG Arrives Northeast On Guided Tour
Mr Lai Mohammed, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili and a member of the BBOG group

Although Mr Mohammed said that there was a near breakthrough in December 2016, he noted that talks were ongoing to ensure the release of the girls.

He added that the government was employing the sticks and carrot method, stressing the need for patience and perseverance on the part of Nigerians.

The minister, however, assured the citizens that the government was doing everything within its powers to ensure the release of the girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists in April 2014 from their school in Chibok community of Borno State.

Since their abduction, less than 60 of the over 200 girls have been rescued or released.

Probe Missing Chibok Safe School Funds, SERAP Tells EFCC

SERAP Drags Senate To UN Over Magu's RejectionThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Nigeria’s anti-graft body to investigate allegations that the  Safe School funds for Chibok girls is missing and cannot be accounted for.

The group’s request was contained in a petition SERAP sent to the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, requesting him to urgently begin a thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the issue.

The said fund of 500 million Naira was commissioned by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to rebuild the Government Girls School in Chibok community in Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

SERAP, in a statement on Wednesday, urged the EFCC to “invite for questioning, and name and shame anyone suspected to be involved in the alleged diversion, including the contractors allegedly handling the project”.

In the petition dated December 27, 2016 and signed by SERAP’s senior staff attorney, Timothy Adewale, the organisation said: “The allegation that 500 million Naira has been lost to corruption has resulted in denying the girls access to education, and shows the failure of the former President Goodluck Jonathan government to live up to Nigeria’s commitments under the global Safe School Declaration”.

Chibok Community Celebrates Homecoming For 21 Rescued Girls
Some of the rescued Chibok girls

Monitor Government’s Spending

It further read: “SERAP believes that the diversion of the funds will expose the school to attacks in the future. This is a fundamental breach of the country’s obligations including guarantees of non-repetition, which contributes to prevention and deterrence of future attacks.

“SERAP urges the EFCC to work with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to set up a mechanism to monitor government’s spending of the safe school funds in order to ensure that the funds are spent exactly to prevent and deter future attacks, and to allow the girls to go back to school as soon as possible.

EFCC
Some EFCC officials

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls, and students have remained at home.

“SERAP is concerned that the alleged diversion of 500 million naira meant for reconstruction of Government Girls School in Chibok has directly violated the right to education of the girls, as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

Breach Of Anti-corruption Legislation

“The diversion has undermined the obligation of the government to take step to the maximum of its available resources to achieve the right to education. The alleged diversion also shows a serious breach of anti-corruption legislation including the EFCC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption both of which the country has ratified.

“The EFCC should ensure full accountability and bring to justice anyone found to be responsible for corruption and diversion of safe school funds. The EFCC should also ensure that all proceeds of corruption are recovered and returned back to the treasury.

“This request is based on allegation by Governor Kashim Shettima that 500 million Naira set aside by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is missing and cannot be accounted for.

Kashim Shettima, Sambisa, Borno, Military
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima

“The funds were released for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme, which was commissioned former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala”.

Army Vows Boko Haram Will Be Punished For Killing Chibok Girls

Army, Boko Haram, Chibok girlsThe Nigerian Army says the outlawed Boko Haram group will be punished for killing 40 of the Chibok girls in their custody.

The Theatre Commander of the counter-insurgency war, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Lucky Irabor, who made the vow, told a news conference that the days of the Boko Haram insurgents were numbered.

General Irabor was reacting to claims by a faction of the terrorist group in a recent video that 40 out of the over 200 girls they seized from a school in Chibok community of Borno State had died from airstrikes in the Lafiya Dole Operations.

“Airstrikes are not AK47 rifles. It’s only a matter of common sense that those dead bodies shown on the ground there do not even give indication as to the claim which Boko Haram gave,” he said.

In continuance of clearance operations in liberated towns around Borno State in northeast Nigeria, the Theatre Commander said that the command had taken delivery of three mine sweepers.

He said the ammunition was part of the equipment the command had received lately and hinted that more sophisticated machines were still being expected.

General Irabor explained that they would detect remnants of improvised explosive devices left in farmlands and towns by the fleeing insurgents.

The Commander also asked the remaining Boko Haram members to surrender, as the army would not relent in its operations to totally rid Nigeria of criminals.

“Their future is going to be very disastrous if they fail to surrender and lay down their arms.

“I wish to encourage them to take advantage of this window of opportunity to surrender, as failure to do so will be hugely regretted,” General Irabor stated.

Chibok Girls Rescue: Wahab Stresses Need To Follow Every Lead

Garba Wahab, Chibok girlsFormer Chief of Army Administration, Major General Garba Wahab (Rtd), has stressed the need to follow every lead in the search for the missing Chibok girls.

General Wahab made the emphasis on Tuesday while calling for synergy among those making efforts to rescue the over 200 secondary school girls abducted from their school’s dormitory in Chibok community of Borno State, northeast Nigeria.

A Firm Commitment

“No information should be left unfollowed. All leads should be followed and to do that, there must be a firm commitment from everybody and everybody must be under one command,” he stressed.

The retired senior army officer highlighted that the insurgents had two advantages, saying that the military should leverage on them.

“We need to understand that Boko Haram has two advantages; one, time.

“Any terrorist organisation has the advantage of time on its side, the government does not and two, they know that we are not too sure of the figure we are actually looking for.

“So they play on those two advantages they have (and) we need to narrow down the advantages so that we’ll move on,” he said.

A Single Umbrella

The former GOC, One Division pointed out that above all, the security agencies “must work as one under a single umbrella”.

General Wahab urged the military to put the released video showing the missing girls in a proper perspective.

“The video could have been shot a long time ago.

“It could be a reaction to the fact that Albarnawi had now been made the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria by ISIS,” said the former Director of Army Operations on Sunrise Daily.

Chibok Girls’ Release: We Will Not Fall For Fraudsters, FG Says

chibok girlsThe Nigerian government says it will not fall for the antics of fraudsters asking the Federal Government for money to negotiate the release of the Chibok girls.

President Muhammadu Buhari made the statement on Friday while reiterating that the rescue and return of the remaining Chibok girls abducted on April 14, 2014, by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group remains a priority of his administration.

The girls were taken from their dormitory in Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok a community in Borno State in northeast Nigeria while they were preparing for their final year examinations.

Receiving the Primate and Archbishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) at the State House, President Buhari said that his administration would continue to insist on a thorough authentication of the identities of any persons or groups claiming to have custody of the girls before entering into negotiations with them.

Anglican Bishops
The bishops are optimistic that things will improve in Nigeria in the next one year

The President, however, assured the Anglican Bishops of his steadfast commitment to the rescuing of the Chibok girls, saying that their safe return will be one of his greatest fulfilments in office as President.

Clean-up Of Ogoniland

In a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, President Buhari also assured the clerics that the Federal Government would give maximum attention to the clean-up of Ogoniland which was launched on Thursday.

“We inherited the United Nations Environmental Project report from the previous administration. We decided it needed urgent attention, in spite of the economic crunch because of our concern for the welfare and environmental comfort of the people of Ogoniland,” he said.

Earlier in his remarks, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, pledged the support of the church in helping the Federal Government achieve its objectives of improving security and the welfare of Nigerians.

Chibok Girls: Group Contests Claim of Victory Over Boko Haram

Chibok girls-InsurgentsNUTGWN says the Federal government cannot claim to have achieved any victory over the Boko Haram insurgents until the missing Chibok girls are rescued from captivity.

This is coming two years after the Boko Haram militants kidnapped some school girls in the Chibok community of Borno State in northeast Nigeria.

The National President of the National Union of Textiles Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGWN), John Adaji, made the observation while joining other stakeholders to mark the two-year anniversary of the girls’ abduction in Kaduna State.

He lamented that the kidnap of the girls has left Nigeria with a big wound that was yet to be healed.

In his remark, Deputy National Secretary of the Union, Dele Ojo, lamented that at least 17 parents of the abducted girls were reported to have died from the trauma of their missing daughters.

He called on all Nigerians to join the forces of progress and development worldwide for the liberation and rescue of the girls, stressing that increasing global terrorism was making the world more dangerous.

Chibok Girls: BBOG Campaigners March To Presidential Villa

Chibok-Girls-Presidential-VillaThe march in commemoration of the 2-year anniversary of the Chibok girls abduction, which started from the Unity Fountain climaxed as planned at the Presidential Villa.

However, a human barricade formed by men of the Nigerian Police stopped members of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ group from gaining access into the villa.

That did not, however, stop the campaigners from continuing with their planned itinerary at the Presidency which ended with a press conference.

They delivered their message to the President right there.

First they asked the President to act fast to rescue the girls, some of which some parents had just identified in recent pictures on CNN.

Other major demand of the group is that government should investigate every case of kidnapping, whether or not it is related to Chibok, set up a missing persons verification bureau as well as a rehabilitation platform for victims of insurgency.

The Chairman of the Chibok community, Tsambido Hosea, also asked for the establishment of a special search and rescue team with a special mandate to locate and rescue the Chibok girls.

He said that members of the community have continued to grieve over the faith of the girls and are asking the federal government to step up efforts to find them.

Meanwhile, the co-convener of the BBOG campaign group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, reassured Nigerians that the movement is apolitical with interests focused on good governance alone.

“Those who have misrepresented our advocacy to mean some politics need to be mindful of the fact that politics has not delivered anything valuable to any of our Chibok girls,” she said.

The campaigners said that 731 days is no joke and is too long a time for young girls to be left at the mercy of insurgents and away from home but they are not giving up until the girls are back and alive.

They insisted that government must act fast on the new information available.

 

One of the parents of the Chibok girls, Esther Yakubu, while berating the Police for denying them access to the Presidential Villa, said tearfully, “It is not our fault. We didn’t beg for it and we didn’t pay the Boko Haram to kidnap our girls. They did it just to fulfill their selfish interest.”

Nigerian Government Verifies Claims Of Would-Be Suicide Bomber In Cameroon

Chibok Girls suicide bomber The Nigerian government is arranging to send some members of the Chibok community to neighbouring Cameroon, in order to verify whether a female suicide bomber arrested in Borno state on Friday is one of the missing schoolgirls abducted in Chibok almost two years ago.

A statement on Saturday by a spokesman to the President, Garba Shehu, said that the Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan and Nigerian High Commissioner in Cameroon had already swung into action and were receiving a lot of cooperation from the Cameroonian authorities.

It has been confirmed that one of two girls is claiming to be among the girls abducted from Chibok on April 14 2014.

Although doubts have crept into the claim following new information from Cameroon that the two girls were about ten years.

One of the two is also believed to be heavily drugged and therefore not in full control of her senses.

The girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists were said to be in their final year in the secondary school and were preparing to write their final examinations.

According to Mr Garba, the Nigerian High Commissioner in Cameroon, Ambassador Hadiza Mustapha, had confirmed that the arrested girls may be brought to the Capital, Younde by Monday, at which point the High Commission would seek permission to meet with them.

The Murtala Mohammed Foundation has offered to cooperate with the Nigerian government in sponsoring two parents from Chibok who have been selected to embark on the trip to Cameroon.

The two are Yakubu Nkeki, Chairman of the Parents of the Abducted Girls from Chibok Association and Yana Galang, the group’s women leader.

The Nigerian High Commission will receive the two and will facilitate their access to the two girls once permission to meet and verify their identity is obtained from the Cameroonian authorities.

Chibok Community Rejects Government School Reconstruction

Chibok School FoundationChibok community has rejected the gesture by the Nigerian government to reconstruct the Government Secondary School, Chibok, where over 200 schoolgirls were abducted on April 14, 2014, insisting on the return of the girls first.

The group rejected the safe school initiative of the government at a press conference attended by over 1,000 indigenes of Chibok to react to the recent surprise visit of a Nigerian government delegation led by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

At that visit by the Minister, the foundation stone for the reconstruction of some destroyed structures of the Chibok school was laid.

“It is disheartening to inform you that since the abduction of these girls, the Federal Government did not bother to send delegations to Chibok to sympathise with the parents, instead, the parents were invited to Abuja and conveyed in cargo military plane with no comfort whatsoever,” the group said.

The Chibok community led by the Caretaker Chairman of Chibok Council Area, Mr Ba’ana Lawan, accused the Federal Government of several broken promises of rescuing the over 200 abducted schoolgirls.

The community frowned at the recent visit by President Goodluck Jonathan to some communities ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency without similar visit to Chibok to sympathise with the people for the abduction.

Traumatised Parents

“We still observed that recently, President Goodluck Jonathan visited Mubi and Baga, but failed to visit Chibok to sympathise with our people,” the chairman said, emphasising that priority should be given to the rescue of the schoolgirls rather than the rebuilding of the destroyed school.

“We are dismay over the Federal Government’s move to rebuild Government Secondary School (GSS), Chibok which was destroyed by the insurgents during the abduction of the schoolgirls,” Mr Lawan stated.

He said the traumatised parents and the entire people of Chibok community only want their children back home.

“We also observed that the President and Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshal Alex Badeh had severally promised that these girls will soon be released, but is it is now more than 300 days, and nothing of such happen.

“We thank God and appreciate Governor Kashim Shettima and his wife, Nana Kashim Shettima who did not only visited Chibok when the incident took place, but also secured admission for 59 schoolgirls that escaped from Boko Haram captivity to study in various schools in the country and for all the other assistance the couples have rendered to the parents.

“It is most unfortunate that Chibok local government area has witnessed six different attacks by insurgents with about 300 people losing their lives and property worth millions of naira destroyed, hundreds of houses razed down as well as food and cash crops looted, yet there was no response from the Federal Government,” he lamented.

Mr Lawan strongly condemned the Federal Government’s decision to reconstruct the school where the girls were abducted instead of keeping its numerous promises of returning the girls.

CNN, Al Jazeera Lied About ‘Supposed’ Chibok Girls’ Escape – Badeh

Alex-BadehThe Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, has accused foreign media houses including, the Cable News Network (CNN) and Al Jazeera, of fabricating stories on the abducted Chibok girls during their crew’s visit to Nigeria in May.

Speaking during a workshop on Security/Media Relations in Crisis Management in Abuja, the Air Chief Marshal said “we know Isha Sesay of CNN, (Nima) Elbagir of CNN and another one from Al Jazeera, interviewed the supposed Chibok girls that escaped; they were speaking Hausa and these are girls that were going to write SSCE. Those ones cannot be those Chibok girls” adding, “they didn’t show us their faces so that we will know.

“Certainly those were not the girls that were taken from that school”, he insisted.

Over 200 Chibok girls were abducted from their schools’ dormitory by members of the Boko Haram sect after an attack on the Chibok Community on April 14.

They have not yet been rescued.

The Defence Chief also said that there was no going back on the conviction of the 12 soldiers found guilty of mutiny last month.

“When we took the oath to become soldiers, we took oath to defend Nigeria with everything we have. Your own is to first obey.

“We condemned them to death. We did not make the laws. The National Assembly made the laws and it is there in the books. People are saying no you cannot do that. Why won’t we do it?” he questioned.

According to him, the reactions over the sentencing of the military personnel could force the military to consider holding field court martial in the bush, after which military personnel sentenced would be killed instantly and buried in the bush.

Insecurity Not Jonathan’s Problem, Its A National Problem – Analyst

OjewusiA Public Affairs Analyst, Sola Ojewusi, believes that the most important solution to the state of insecurity in Nigeria is for Nigerians to unite.

Mr Ojewusi was speaking on the Thursday edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where conversations centered on ‘Finding the Chibok Girls’.

While acknowledging that it was expected that the pains of attacks by insurgents would make citizens point accusing fingers in different directions, especially at the Presidency for the time it has taken to solve the problem, he advised that this was not the best approach.

“Our approach is to look at how everybody can bring hands together to solve the problem of security.

“It is now clear that it is not just Jonathan’s problem, it’s a national problem. It is not PDP, it is not APC, it is everybody’s problem. That is the essence, the essence of unity”, he said.

Making reference to the Wednesday twin bomb attack in Kaduna, he noted that “everything boils down to one particular enemy and that enemy is the enemy of the nation of Nigeria” adding that Nigerians need to go beyond “abusing the owner of the house, leaving the thief”.

Although Mr Ojewusi admitted that the responsibility for Nigeria’s security was on the President and citizens were justified demanding same of him, he explained that “security is not a one man thing”.

“Even if you have a guard in the house, there is a street before the thief gets to the house, perhaps there’s a gate to that street, there are a lot of people surrounding. Sometimes when armed robbers and thieves come to a community, they tend to do surveillance”, he explained.

Speaking about the continued abduction of schoolgirls from the Chibok community in Borno State, Mr Ojewusi wondered what had been done from the wards where the locals are from, considering the view that some of the terrorists also have their backgrounds in the communities.

He stated that rather than seek solution “from the top”, there was need to ask; “what are the people from the environment doing”.

Many observers have criticized President Jonathan for taking too long before meeting with the parents of the missing Chibok girls but Ojewusi also defended the President. He explained that there must have been some level of intelligence gathering which the Presidency would have access to and which would negate the idea of visiting Chibok.

He warned that while Nigerians express emotions, they should not lose sight of the importance of security as regards bringing the girls back alive. He maintained that the Government and security agencies could not afford to make their moves public.

He added that the unconventional nature of the war on terror required patience from all citizens.

Mr Ojewusi also threw his weight behind the President’s request for the approval of a loan to upgrade security in the country. According to him, this was a necessary move as there was need for not just the purchase of military equipment but also major upgrades in intelligence and border security.

He, however, warned that the proper management of the funds remained an important factor the President must ensure.