President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday night held a closed door meeting with Borno Governor, Kashim Shettima, the Deputy Governor, State Education Commissioner, Local Government Chairman of Chibok and other top government functionaries over the abducted girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok.
Also present at the meeting were Vice President, Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, Secretary to the Government of Education Anyim Pius Anyim, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Abubakar as well as the Director General of the State Security Service, Service Chiefs and other principal officers of government.
The meeting lasted for about three hours from 9: pm till 12:15am after which the Special Adviser to the president on Media and publicity Dr. Reuben Abati spoke to the press. According to Dr. Abati, the meeting was designed to ensure that the girls are brought back safely.
The Nigerian Armed Forces, today (Thursday) expressed appreciation to concerns being shown by all citizens in and out of the country on the unfortunate incident of abduction of some female students from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, in a statement by the Director Of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade.
“Alongside the search for the girls, the military is currently committed to various security operations in most parts of Northern Nigeria where troops are deployed in forests and mountains combating terrorists and armed gangs of various descriptions. The military reaffirms its unflinching resolve to continue to discharge its responsibility in defending the territorial integrity and the people of Nigeria in the most professional manner. This will apply in the search for the missing girls which is ongoing concurrently with other security operations nationwide.
“A lot of information has been received in the efforts at securing the freedom of the girls. The Armed Forces assures all Nigerians that it will continue to appraise every information received during this operation accordingly. Unfortunately however, most of the information, some of which have been mischievously publicized for sensational reasons, have always turned out to be spurious and of no operational use.
“Disturbingly, some of them have been mischievously sensationalized and publicized with a view to heightening tension and inflicting more pain on the nation as envisaged by the terrorists. Nevertheless, the forces will remain disposed to receiving, analyzing and applying all relevant information on this issue” the statement said.
It further warned that “while it will not relent in its efforts in this search, the Armed Forces is mindful of the fact that some of the information with which it has been inundated are actually a ploy to distract it from its goal of dealing with terrorism and other violent crimes aimed at crippling the nation.
“While the military’s efforts at recovering the girls is continuing, the Government of Borno State whose Commissioner for Education has been giving a regular update on the incident at the initial stage is enjoined to continue in order to satisfy the necessity for information flow” he said.
The Army Headquarters also permitted the “Borno State Government, in whose facility the incident occurred, to continue with regular briefing” noting that “it is in line with best practices in other climes more so as all agencies of every tier of Government are expected to continue functioning in the state”.
Accordingly, security agencies on ground in Borno State will continue to interact and support the State Government officials in their efforts to inform the public on the Chibok incident and progress in the search without any prejudice.
Olukolade further noted that the “Nigerian Military has always subscribed to the importance of information flow to the public and will continue to sustain this policy in all its internal security operations.
“In view of the need to provide daily updates on the search of the abducted girls, the Defence Headquarters has directed that henceforth, progress reports on the search will be handled by the Borno State Government.
“The security forces on ground in the state have been directed to coordinate with the State Government and provide them with necessary information on the search for the girls” he said.
Scores of Nigerian women, and a few men, had also protested Wednesday and Thursday in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan and Kaduna to demand the release of over 200 girls kidnapped on April 14 by insurgents believed to be members of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
Hundreds of women in Kaduna State on Thursday protested over the abduction of over 200 school girls by Boko Haram members in Chibok, Borno State.
Leader of the women, Sa’adatu Hama who briefed journalists shortly after the protest, accused the Federal Government of not showing enough seriousness to secure the release of the innocent girls.
The women, comprising Christians and Muslims, gathered at the popular Murtala Mohammed Square in the state capital as early as 10 Am, walked round the Square with placards demanding the immediate release of the girls.
Having walked for about 40-minutes, these aggrieved mothers rolled themselves on the ground, wailing and shouting for the intervention of government for the release of the abducted school girls without delay.
The protest which was originally meant for only women was almost hijacked by some boys who claimed that they were playing a fatherly role in line with the demands of the protesting mothers.
The Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Shehu Umar was also on ground to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order.
Scores of Nigerian women, and a few men, had also protested Wednesday in Abuja to demand the release of over 200 girls kidnapped on April 14 by insurgents believed to be members of the extremist Boko Haram sect.
The women, coordinated by Dr Obi Ezekwesili, Mariam Uwaiz, Saudatu Madi and Hadiza Bala Usman, marched from the Unity Fountain from about 3:30pm, singing to register their anger even as the police guided them to their destination.
They said that the demonstration was to register the agony they are feeling as a result of the abduction of the girls.
They held up placards with inscriptions like; Rescue Our Children, Please Find Our Daughters, Save Our Sisters, Rescue Our Chibok Girls.
Intermittently, they stopped to address the crowd, insisting that not even the rains can stop them until they get to the National Assembly, where the leadership of the National Assembly also defiled the rains to address them.
The Senate President, David Mark, House of Representatives’ speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, addressed the women.
They stressed that the National Assembly had scheduled a meeting with the president to discuss the issue and assured the women that they would do their best to ensure that the girls would be rescued soon.
Moments later the women returned to the take-off point, where they poured out their anger over what they have been through so far following the abduction of the girls.
Some Nigerian men and concerned fathers, including human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, wonder why the authorities are paying lip service to the welfare and security of the citizens.
This is the second demonstration following the perceived inaction by security agencies over the abduction and continued detention of those Nigerian girls.
Governor Fashola on Monday asked the people of Chibok, Borno State, to remain hopeful on the safe return of the school girls abducted by members of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Members of the Kibaku Youth Association based in Lagos had staged a peaceful protest at the Secretariat in Alausa, Ikeja, asking the governor to help toward facilitating the release of the remaining abducted school girls in Borno.
Over 200 girls were reported missing after an attack by members of the Boko Haram insurgency on the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, two weeks ago.
The protesters, numbering about 50, urged Governor Fashola to prevail on the Federal Government and relevant agencies to take result-oriented steps to ensure the girls’ safe return.
Moses Zakwa, who led the protest, said the incident had caused Chibok’s indigenes to live in fear.
“All our hearts are bleeding over the abduction of our sisters, daughters and future mothers. We are really disturbed and we need help.
“Gov. Fashola, we know this incident occurred outside Lagos, but we are appealing to you to prevail on the relevant quarters and do other things you can to ensure the girls are rescued,” he appealed.
Fashola received the protesters and commending their decorum. He decried hostage-taking, stressing that it was dehumanising and an act of cowardice.
He assured the youths that he would forward their letter of protest to President Goodluck Jonathan and also addressed claims that the military was unwilling to swoop on the hideout of the abductors. The Lagos State governor pointed out that the military’s decision must be for safety reasons, so as not to increase the casualty figure and not because of lack of capacity.
A Security Expert, Dare Ogunlana has said that Nigerians are losing confidence in the soldiers carrying out the rescue mission on the 200 girls that were abducted from Girls Secondary School, Chibok.
Mr. Ogunlana stated that there is communication gap between the Soldiers and the government, comparing Nigeria to other advanced countries, especially the recent missing Malaysian Airline; he said the president of the country has been giving day to day update of the rescue efforts. “We need someone to give us hope, because what Boko Haram wanted was to make Nigerians lose confidence in the soldiers”.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, Mr. Ogunlana noted that it is lack of confidence that is making the mothers of the girls insist on going to the forest to look for their daughters. “This tells us that they are fast losing confidence and trust in soldiers, Army, Police and other security operatives”.
He also sympathized with President Goodluck Jonathan on the tension and pressure he is facing in order to bring the abducted girls back and therefore urged Nigerians to help in any information that will be useful.
A Public Affairs Analyst, Mahmood Othman, believes that the National Security Council meeting held in Abuja on Thursday was long overdue, considering the security situation in Nigeria.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise daily on Friday, he said that he did not expect that the leadership of the country would have waited to be put under such pressure before taking drastic steps to address the situation.
He, however, noted that one of the issues he had with the resolution was what he saw as a stifling of Freedom of Expression, as he believed that Governor Nyako of Adamawa State’s condemnation was overdone.
He shared the view that as a former Chief of Naval Staff, and Governor who is on the ground, Nyako must have cogent justification for what he was saying about the terrorist activities in the Northeast and he expected that those information would be taken seriously rather than being treated as being political.
On the use of the word “Genocide” which has been seen as a strong word that could cause uproar, he said that this was a product of frustration as there had been no proper communication. More so, English was not Nigeria’s primary language and just his choice of word should not be used as an excuse to discard his views, some of which may be valid and useful in finding solution.
He said that it was normal for the State Governor to be frustrated because no one would expect that after the attack on a secondary school in Buni Yadi in Yobe State, another school in the region would have its students abducted by terrorists.
Speaking about the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, Othman said that allowing the school to be opened at the time was naïve, as he expected that all schools in the state would have been closed.
While explanations have been provided for the presence of the girls in school, he wondered why adequate security had not been provided for the girls, he insisted that the spate of attacks in the past and in recent times were enough to prepare the state for such possibilities.
He also berated the security agencies in the state for allowing the incident of the abduction to happen. He wondered how so many people would sneak into a state under Emergency Rule, dressed like military men and the real military personnel were unable to identify the impending danger.
He said that there were no excuses for Nigeria not to be able to protect its territory, claiming that there were no specific borders along the boundaries of Nigeria and neighbouring countries in the Northeast. The forests, according to him were accessible and should be secured.
Mr. Othman expects that the quality of communication between security agencies should be upgraded to standard as has been recommended by many concerned Nigerians, but so should the communication between governments of states, the local governments, and between the Federal Government and the states.
He added that state governments should be listened to and taken seriously in the quest to end insurgency as they were major stakeholders in the matter having invested a lot of resources in empowering the Police, and having also been at the receiving end of the terrorist attacks.
Mr. Othman, who is also a delegate at the National Conference, offered his view on the makeup and happenings at the conference. He said that the conference had been a mix of different shades of people and ideas; while some were good, some were bizarre.
Pointing out the attitude of delegates to time keeping, and double standards in giving audience to delegates, among the issues he was most unhappy with, he said that the delegates had, however, started calming down as the committees were being set up.
He also said that the few young people present at the conference were learning the ropes, explaining that he could identify with the youthful exuberance being displayed by the youths who had been complaining of not being carried along. He added that what remained most important was the outcome of the entire exercise, and how to make it beneficial to the continued unity of Nigeria.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the United Nations to urgently intervene to secure the safe release of 230 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by members of the Boko Haram sect.
The organization wants the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) of the UN Security Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide “international assistance and support to the Nigerian authorities to secure the release of the children and to ensure that they are back to school.”
In a statement on Thursday, signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said that, “continuing abduction of these innocent children is having negative impact on their well-being and long-term education. We are urging these bodies to move swiftly to support efforts to protect schools, teachers, and students from deliberate attack in the North-East of the country.”
“In particular we urge the UN Security Council’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on Children and Armed Conflict to take strong action including by referring members of the Boko Haram and their backers to the International Criminal Court. Accountability for attacks on school children and education-including prosecuting perpetrators-is critical to deterring perpetration of crimes under international law,” the group also said.
The group said that, “The International Criminal Court has explicit jurisdiction over intentional attacks against school children and buildings dedicated to education in both international and internal armed conflicts.”
“The attack against children is leading to dramatic decreases in school attendance rates. When attendance remains low over the long term, there are negative knock-on effects on the economy and on key development indices such as measures of maternal and child health,” the organization said.
The expanded meeting convened by the Federal Government to look at security situation in Nigeria has kicked off in the Presidential Villa with President Goodluck Jonathan presiding.
The meeting which has a fuller house as against what happened a week before, has many of the governors from the opposition parties present.
The President of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Nigeria and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, as well as the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor are also attending the meeting.
Twenty-four governors are in attendance while the governors of Jigawa, Imo, Oyo, Rivers, Kano, Ogun, Plateau, Edo and Yobe are being represented by their deputies.
The security chiefs in attendance are; the Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Inspector-General of Police, the Comptrollers-General of Customs and Immigration, Corp Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp.
The Interior Minister, Mr. Abba Moro, Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Gusau, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Abduljelil Adesiyan, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Viola Onwuleri, Agriculture Minister, Akinwunmi Adeshina and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, are also present.
The expanded National Security Council meeting was summoned by President Jonathan following the bombing in Nyanya, Abuja and the abduction of over one hundred female students from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno.
Another Boko Haram attack has been reported as gunmen raided another girls’ secondary school, killing a 5 year-old girl, in the early morning of Easter Sunday.
The attack came coming barely a week after gunmen abducted 129 girls from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
The armed men were reported to have struck at the staff quarters of Government Girls’ Secondary School Yana, in Shira Local Government Area of Bauchi State.
Confirming the incident, Police Spokesperson in Bauchi, Mr Haruna Mohammed, said that the gunmen set some houses ablaze at the staff quarters and later burned down a telecommunication mast in the town.
He added that the attackers stole a private car belonging to the principal of the school but gave assurance that other students in the school were safe.
Bauchi State has been one of the relatively peaceful states in Nigeria’s northeast.
The Principal of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State has appealed to the Government to do more to save teenage girls abducted by suspected Boko Haram members on Monday.
Mrs. Asabe Kwambula, has also been appealing to the kidnappers to have mercy on the students.
The Principal said that she was with the parents, praying continuously for the teenagers’ safe return.
Her plea is coming after the Borno State Government said that 84 girls were still missing and 45 in total have managed to escape.
The Borno State Commissioner of Education, Mr. Musa Kubo, in a telephone interview with Channels Television, appealed to parents to bear with Government as everything was being done to rescue the abducted girls.
In his update for Saturday, April 19, the Commissioner said: “Only one of our missing students returned today. She was not among those abducted. She was however one of the 129 girls at the hostel on that black day the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok was attacked.
“She ran out of the school during the attack and thereafter, went to her parents. She was brought back by her mother today (Saturday).
“Remember I told you in my first statement that we made announcements calling on parents and guardians whose daughters might have ran home to bring them back so we could take account to be precise on the number of students missing out of the 129 that were in school during the attack.
“So far, we now have 45 students back in school. Out of this number, 28 escaped from abduction while 17 fled home during the attack and returned home. You may recall that in my Friday update, I told you that 14 students escaped from their abductors. Out of them, 3 were helped back to the school in Chibok while 11 escaped from captivity to a town along Damboa/Biu road in Borno State.
“We are hopefully expecting the return of our 84 students as intensive search and rescue efforts continue.
“On behalf of the Borno State Government, my ministry, staff and students of the affected school, parents and relations of affected students, I very well appreciate the Nigerian and international media organisations for their most helpful support which we need to sustain till by the grace of God, these students – who are so important to us as a Government and parents – are found in sound health.”
A Security Consultant, Ona Ekhomu, has said that the Government needs to work smarter and harder on their ability to respond to distress calls, when there is an attack.
Speaking on the abduction of about 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, North-East, Nigeria, Mr. Ekhomu said that these attackers were convicted in the rightness of what they were doing and suggested that they be combated such that they would be uncomfortable doing it.
Mr. Ekhomu shared this view on the Thursday edition of Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.
Narrating the incident, he noted that the abduction of the girls had no link with money, rather a way of marrying them at a little age or for domestic activities as “they are useful in the scheme of things in their own sub-culture.”
He backed the need for the Government to revamp its security architecture, as “Nigeria doesn’t have enough troops on the ground to police every kilometer” and “if there is no prompt response the bad guys will run away.”
While emphasizing the need for security agencies to be more proactive, he noted that the group that mounted the attack on the school girls were not so resourced, owing to the fact that they (the group) had a broken vehicle and had to push which made some of the girls escape.
He explained that if the security agencies had better engagement with the State Government, Federal Government and citizens of the state to enable communication where emergency arises and distress calls were made, the situation would have contained.
He maintained that the number of men of the JTF spread round the country was not enough to police every square inch of the North, therefore there should be an engagement between the Government and the citizens to reduce these attacks.