The Nigerian government is insisting that an earlier date it had agreed with the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group for a guided tour of Nigeria’s northeast, where the notorious Sambisa Forest is located, will not be shifted.
The group had in a letter to the Federal Government on Friday requested that the the proposed date of the tour, January 16, be changed to accommodate a Pre-Tour Meeting between it and some top officials of the Federal Government.
But the spokesman for the Nigerian government, Mr Lai Mohammed, in response to the group’s demand said the government had noted the conditions given by the BBOG “for embarking on the trip, which include the said Pre-Tour Meeting and the retraction of some remarks allegedly made by the Chief of Army Staff, which the #BBOG finds to be “slanderous”.
“We regret, however, to inform you that we are unable to postpone the trip as scheduled because the need to proceed with the trip on Monday is predicated on the narrow window available to have a good weather on that day.
“Additionally, the payment for the satellite downlink streaming of the mission has been made for that Monday, and shifting the date will require another round of booking to secure such a slot,” the letter to the group by the Federal Government read.
Mr Mohammed further stated that apart from the #BBOG members, local and international journalists have been invited for the trip, while much preparations have been made by the Nigerian military.
‘Drop Conditions And Join Trip’
On the remark the group claimed the Chief of Army Staff made, the government’s spokesman said: “With due respect, we will also like to say that the remarks purportedly made by the Chief of Army Staff and the request for a meeting with certain top officials of the government are, at best, tangential to the invitation we extended to the #BBOG to join the search mission, in recognition of the group’s commitment to the safe release of the Chibok girls who remain in captivity as well as its continued interest in the welfare of the girls who have been released”.
The government further expressed hopes that the #BBOG would drop its conditions and join the trip, which showed the commitment of the Federal Government to securing freedom for the Chibok girls and its transparency in handling the issue of the girls.
The invitation for the proposed tour is coming at a time that the group held a week-long protest, demanding for more efforts from the government and the military to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls.
Over 200 girls were taken from their school’s dormitory on April 14, 2014, in Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
Since their abduction by Boko Haram terrorists, less than 60 of the girls have been rescued and the recent announcement of the clearing of the terrorists’ last bastion in Sambisa Forest, where most of the girls are believed to have been held, has raised concerns about the whereabouts of the remaining girls.
Boko Haram had weeks after their abduction said the ‘girls have been married off’, but in October last year, 21 of the girls, some of them with babies, were released by the terrorists after negotiations with the Federal Government.