Muhammadu Buhari has said that unlike what the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan did during the abduction of Chibok school girls in 2014, his government has shown commitment to rescue the girls as well as those recently kidnapped in Dapchi, Yobe state.
Speaking in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, he accused the previous government of looking away as the Chibok abductions took place.
He recalled what his government had done so far to tackle Boko Haram terrorists which he observed had made life difficult in many cities before the advent of his administration.
President Buhari reiterated his position to negotiate with the insurgents for the safe return of all the abducted school girls as he assured their parents of the commitment of government to their safe release and return home.
He said: “Since the inception of this administration, we have remained resolute in our fight against Terrorism and Boko Haram insurgents.
“Nigerians will readily recall that prior to our coming in 2015, the situation was chaotic with violent terrorist attacks being the order of the day.
“Terrorists had made life very unbearable for the people in Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Borno, Niger, and even the FCT, Abuja.
“Our Mosques and Churches witnessed daily suicide bomb attacks. Parts of Adamawa and Borno States were helplessly ceded to the terrorists.
“But today, we have so far shown clear determination in tackling terrorism which is a world -wide phenomenon.
“We have not only degraded the power and dominance of the criminal elements, our security forces have patriotically exhibited an uncommon zeal in executing their assignment.
“We explored various strategies including regional and international collaborations to exterminate terror. We have re-equipped our armed forces, security and intelligence Services. They are empowered with improved welfare and better equipment.
“The outcomes have been good. Our achievement in maintaining security is such that the international community and even our critics commend our modest efforts in this regards.
“The Federal Government’s response to the unfortunate abduction of the school girls is a clear departure from the insensitivity of the past administration which looked the other way while the Chibok girls were taken away in 2014 and held in captivity for over 3 years.
“Due to our commitment, over 100 Chibok girls have been rescued and reunited with their families, sent back to school and empowered with requisite skills.
“You may recall that recently, our negotiation efforts led to the release of abducted University of Maiduguri lecturers, some women Police personnel, students and even an NYSC member.
“We, therefore, have no doubt that the Dapchi girls will be rescued or released. I can reassure parents, Nigerians and the International Community that we will do all that is within our power to make sure that the girls are brought back safely to their families.”
Buhari said he was in Yobe State to express his sincere sympathies with the parents, families, the Government and the entire people of Yobe State “whose daughters were callously abducted by unrepentant terrorists.”
According to him, “on 19th February, 2018, we woke up to the painful news of the abduction of One Hundred and Ten (110) students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi. Since this ugly incident happened, I have not left any stone unturned in making sure that the girls are rescued.”
He affirmed that he had ordered the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take direct charge and brief him on a daily basis on the efforts to bring back the girls, noting that within four days of the incident, the Minister of Information had visited Dapchi and the next day, the Minister of Interior who was accompanied by the Minister of Information re-visited the school for on the spot assessment.
He also said that he had ordered the re-strengthening of a Joint Operational Base involving relevant agencies and Services to coordinate the rescue mission, adding that, consequently, the Service Commanders had not only established a unified Command Centre in Maiduguri, the Military had raised several rescue teams to comb the forests in the North East Theatre of Operation.
In addition, he said, the Nigerian Air force had maintained aerial surveillance of the area.
He similarly recalled that the Federal Government had earlier sent a delegation of senior officials to visit the Governor and the parents of the girls to re-assure them of the measures the government is taking as well as have an on-the-spot-assessment of the incident.
The president added: “Similarly, the Federal Government has set up a 12-member Committee to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the students.
“The membership of the Committee was drawn from among security agencies and local residents.
“It is my hope that any agency, person or group found to have been negligent or culpable in the abduction of the girls will be punished in accordance with the law.”
Buhari also said the government was partnering with the International Community and organizations including our neighbours to ensure that the girls are safely returned.
“Just recently, I reiterated our resolve to negotiate for the unconditional release of the girls. This is borne out of this administration’s conviction that, doing so is safer devoid of risks and will not endanger the lives of our young girls who are in harm’s way,” he stated.
The president said he had ordered a 24 hour brief to him by security agencies on its successes or challenges.
He added: “While expecting the report of the Committee set up to investigate the abduction for implementation, I have asked that appropriate Federal Government authorities be in constant touch with the Yobe State Government and other neighbouring States to ensure a common strategy and line of action.
“There will be no rest till the last girl, whether from Chibok and Dapchi, is released. The girls, like all our citizens, must enjoy unhindered freedom and pursue their legitimate aspirations.
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“The Dapchi and Chibok students are our girls and must enjoy our protection. They must live to achieve their individual ambitions, to be great women of tomorrow. It is our duty to protect them.
“We are determined to restore peace to all part of the country – from the West to the East; North to the South. While calling for calm, I implore affected parents and families to restrain from making statements that may jeopardize the success of the rescue mission.”
The president accused political opponents, who he called evil elements, of making political capital out of the unfortunate abductions, advising law abiding citizens to shun shun them.
Buhari said: “We are aware of orchestrations by some evil elements to take advantage of the development to score cheap political points. I call on law abiding citizens to shun activities and statements that may cause a breakdown of law and order.
“The Government, under my watch, will continue to maintain normalcy and ensure that incidents of this nature are stopped. Be assured that measures are being put in place to achieve these objectives.”