President Buhari has insisted that his government is not in possession of any credible information on the whereabouts of the 219 girls abducted by Boko Haram from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April14, 2014.
The president recalled he said the same thing during his maiden media chat in December.
This was even as he has ordered investigation into the the abduction of the girls and charged National Security Adviser (NSA), General Babagana Monguno, with the responsibility of naming the panel soon.
Buhari, accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan, Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai and Monguno, said this to the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) campaigners, led by Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, at a closed-door meeting which held at the Presidential Villa.
Ezekwesili, at the end of the meeting told State House correspondents that President Buhari admitted to them that his administration has no concrete information on the girls’ whereabouts, adding that he expected the BBOG campaigners to appreciate what government is doing to rescue the girls.
She said: “The president insisted they do not have the kind of reliable intelligence that would enable them rescue the girls as immediately as we are demanding.
“He said we should continue to try to bear with him and that based on the fact that government has recorded considerable success in decimating Boko Haram and its hold over the North-East and that what remains is the matter of rescuing our Chibok girls and other affected citizens that have been abduction.
“He said we will have to wait and that they would make the effort. He pleaded with the parents that his administration would place as much efforts on rescuing the girls and that was the same message he had given to them before and that he was repeating the same message.
“The president stated that he would also have expected us to acknowledge the efforts that they have so far made and that we failed to acknowledge the efforts they have made, but that he wishes that we would agree that he is very committed to the matter of our Chibok girls.
“He used the specific phrase that he sleeps and wakes up thinking about the rescue of our girls.”
Ezekwesili, however, said the movement also demanded fresh investigation into the circumstances, which led to the girls’ abduction.
“So, we are demanding that this administration will quickly agree with the demands of these parents that new investigation be made even as General Sabo report is being disclosed,” she said.
Ezekwesili had in a speech she read to the president said her team decided to visit him again after six months to register its dissatisfaction on what he called lack of progress.
Meanwhile, distraught parents of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls yesterday, marched in tears in Abuja and demanded the immediate rescue of their daughters who have spent 640 days in captivity.
The peaceful march was organised by The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, an advocacy group, which emerged in April 30, 2014, after the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014.
Co-convener of the group, Oby Ezekwesili, led other members and over 136 parents of the abducted girls to demand that the Federal Government expedite action on the release of the girls.
One of the parents of the girls reportedly collapsed during the walk and was rushed to a nearest hospital for medication.
Ezekwesili pleaded with government to explore other possible options that would free the girls safely from Boko Haram.
“What happened to Ahmed Salkida, a journalist that used to work for Yusuf, who was the original founder of what mutated to this violent group? What happened to the fact that they were saying that they can help our government? We understand the restraint because of the challenges of the past where some fake leads led to nowhere.
But, our government, this particular administration, must be seen to exhaust every measure possible. The word, ‘lack of credible intelligence’ makes you want to scream out.
That is why, today, the best the president can do is to convince these parents again that when they leave this meeting, the fierce urgency of now will be the basis of all measures to rescue our girls.
“This particular administration must be seen to exhaust every measure possible,” and urged President Buhari to convince the parents of the missing girls that a ‘fierce urgency’ would be the basis of all measures to rescue the girls,” she said.
It was gathered that Buhari reportedly ordered journalists out of his meeting with parents of the abducted Chibok girls and members of the BBOG.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, who excused journalists from the meeting, said some ‘sensitive issues’ were to be discussed. Lots of journalists who had turned up for the meeting dragged their feet out of the banquet hall, venue of the meeting.
Earlier, the group and aggrieved parents had refused to leave when they were told that the president would not meet with them. The protesters stood their ground and insisted on seeing the president.
Rather, Senator Aisha Alhassan, Minister of Women Affairs, and other members of his cabinet received the group.
But Alhassan took shots at the Chibok parents and the BBOG for not giving the government prior notice of their coming. In response, Ezekwesili, a former minister of education, fired back and accused the minister of ‘zero empathy’ to the plight of the suffering girls and their parents. “You have been very unfair to us,” she said, adding,
“I don’t understand why you can be chiding the parents and the movement. These parents were triggered by the words of the president who promised to rescue their daughters.”
The group, together with 136 parents of the abducted girls, set out from the Unity Fountain in Abuja at 8:35am. As they marched, the parents let out words of anguish for their daughters who have been in Boko Haram captivity for 640 days.