Olalekan Adetayo and Adelani Adepegba
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said the remaining girls abducted by terrorists from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, four years ago were still in captivity because of some setbacks in the negotiation between the Federal Government and the Boko Haram sect.
He attributed the setbacks to what he described as internal disagreement among the abductors.
Buhari said this in a statement made available to journalists by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The President said, “We are concerned and aware that it is taking longer to bring the rest of our daughters back home, but be assured that this administration is doing its very best to free the girls from their captors.
“Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks, owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors, whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.
“We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you.
“However, this government is not relenting. We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up. Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfil our promise of reuniting you with your daughters.
“Don’t imagine for a moment that we have forgotten about our daughters or that we consider their freedom a lost cause.”
Buhari gave the assurance Nigerians that as long as he remained the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Chibok girls would never be forgotten and everything would be done to reunite them with their families. He also assured the parents of the schoolgirls that “their daughters will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate, despite four long years since they were taken away by terrorists.’’
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund has disclosed that more than 1,000 children have been abducted by Boko Haram in the North-East since 2013, including 276 Chibok schoolgirls taken from their school on April 14, 2014.
The UN agency noted that four years on, more than 100 of the Chibok girls had yet to be returned to their families. It restated its calls for the release of all hostages in Boko Haram custody.
The UNICEF in a statement on Thursday by its representative in Nigeria, Mohammed Fall, disclosed that 2,295 teachers had been killed and more than 1,400 schools destroyed in nine years by the insurgents, noting that most of the schools had not been re-opened.
“The fourth anniversary of the Chibok abduction reminds us that children in northeastern Nigeria continue to come under attack on a shocking scale. They are consistently targeted and exposed to brutal violence in their homes, schools and public places,” it said.
In a similar vein, ActionAid Nigeria has expressed solidarity with the families, friends and the Chibok community over the remaining Chibok schoolgirls in Boko Haram captivity.
The Country Director of AAN, Ene Obi, said in a statement, “The FG and the military should adopt intelligence, power and negotiation as deployed for the release of the Dapchi girls, to bring back the remaining 113 missing Chibok girls and the remaining Dapchi girl, Leah Shuaibu.”