25 April 2014

Nigeria: Missing Schoolgirls Suspend Yola Rally, APC Tells Jonathan

Photo: Vanguard
Hundreds of girls kidnapped from school (file photo).

An expanded meeting of National Security Council convened yesterday by President Goodluck Jonathan resolved to do everything possible to find the over 200 schoolgirls abducted in Borno State 11 days ago.

Briefing journalists after meeting, along with other governors, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi said the participants resolved that everything be done to ensure the girls are released unharmed.

"The meeting agreed that the issue of the moment is Chibok and the abduction of the children and we must do everything to ensure that the abducted children are retrieved and rehabilitated and returned to their their parents, and the military assured us that they are working on it," he said.

The closed-door meeting, held inside the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, lasted for about seven hours. It was attended by nearly all the state governors, the Minister of Defence, the National Security Adviser, service chiefs and other high-ranking officials.

Fayemi said it was also resolved that all political leaders should rise above partisanship when dealing with security issues, especially by avoid hate speeches.

He said apart from emphasising the importance of data sharing among security agencies, the meeting also agreed that a holistic and comprehensive response to terrorism and "we should work out anti-poverty policies".

Fayemi said the meeting did not discuss the state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, which expires next month.

Also speaking, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima said all the leaders at the meeting reaffirmed their commitment to working together, irrespective of their political, ethnic and religious affiliations, to tackle the problem confronting the nation.

He said the meeting emphasised the need for greater investment in the development of advanced security technology "because of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons".

Defence Minister Aliyu Gusau said it was agreed that the Federal Government, in collaboration with state and local governments, must do everything possible to bring the security challenges under control.

The minister said the meeting also resolved that all Nigerians must be security conscious as security is everybody's responsibility.

The governors of Abia, Niger and Ekiti states said the meeting unanimously condemned Governor Murtala Nyako's recent memo in which he accused the Federal Government of genocide against northerners.

Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State said, "The memo written by one of our colleagues, Governor Nyako of Adamawa State, was discussed and there was a very unanimous condemnation of that memo. All officers and people in positions of authority were advised to be cautious of what they say. That what they say should at least enliven every person and make us to know that this country belongs to all of us and not something that will demoralise us, not something that will incite people to go the negative way."

Orji said the meeting also agreed that the Boko Haram insurgency is not a religious war "because both Muslims and Christians are being killed. It doesn't discriminate against any person."

He added: "The meeting recognised that security issue is not for the Federal Government alone, it should be a cooperative issue handled cooperatively by the federal, state and local governments. When there is a synergy, obviously progress will be made.

"The meeting also agreed that at the state level, governors who are chief security officers have to do a lot to help because that is where the security issue is. In so doing, the state governors should mobilise their radio houses to sensitise the people so that they'll be aware of this security situation."

Niger State Governor Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu said after condemning Nyako's memo, the meeting concluded that "we need to be careful about our statements in order not to give terrorists the impression that they've won."

He added: "We looked at it (Nyako's letter) all. In fact, he (Nyako) was allowed to read the memo to all us. We concluded that for many of us, we need to be very careful about the kind of statements we make; and that we need to be very careful that whatever we say are either evidenced-based or something that can be authenticated, otherwise, there is no need to be giving terrorists the opportunity of thinking that they're succeeding because all a terrorist wants is for him to find out that what he does is really carried out in such a way that people will have the impression that he has made impact."

On the incessant crises between herdsmen and farmers, Aliyu said the meeting agreed that all grazing routes be properly gazetted for peace to reign and that herdsmen be settled/relocated.

He said the meeting also cautioned against religious preaching that could undermine national security.

He also noted that it was agreed that it is legal for the president to involve the military in any domestic affair when necessary.

Aliyu said the meeting understands that there is we need to remove the issue of indigeneship from the constitution.

Governors present at the meeting were those Zamfara, Anambra, Abia, Bayelsa, Benue, Adamawa, Sokoto, Borno, Kaduna, Kwara, Ebonyi, Taraba, Nasarawa, Ekiti, Kebbi, Niger, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ondo, Bauchi, Enugu, Osun, Delta and Katsina states.

Governors of Jigawa, Kano, Rivers, Yobe, Oyo, Edo, Plateau, Imo and Ogun states were represented by their deputies, while Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola did not attend and was not represented.

Also present were Sultan of Sokoto Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the service chiefs, Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Abubakar, the Directors-General of the State Security Services and the National Intelligence Agency, as well as heads of paramilitary agencies.

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