2 May 2014

Nigeria: Jonathan Sets Up Committee On Abducted Schoolgirls

Photo: Vanguard
Hundreds of girls kidnapped from Nigeria school

President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday set up a committee to embark on a fact finding mission into the controversy surrounding the abduction of the 273 schoolgirls who were abducted at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok on April 14, 2014.

This was one of the major decisions taken at the emergency security meeting convened by the president, following Thursday's bomb explosion in Nyanya which killed over 12 persons and injured over 41.

Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, disclosed this while briefing journalists after the meeting alongside the spokespersons of security agencies and Senior Special Assistant to the president on public affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe.

The spokespersons are those of the State Security Services, Marylin Ogar; Defence Headquarters and the Nigerian Police Force, Frank Mba.

Maku said, "President Goodluck Jonathan today called a high-level meeting at Aso Villa to review the security situation in the country, particularly the bombing at Nyanya yesterday, and the unfortunate kidnapping by suspected terrorists of girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 15, 2014.

"The meeting received updates on the second Nyanya bombing, the ongoing search for the Chibok girls, and efforts made so far to deal with related incidents of insecurity and terrorism in the country."

Announcing the setting up of the fact-finding committee on the Chibok girls, the minister, who noted that the terms of reference of the committee would be announced later, admitted the fact that the actual number of the schoolgirls abducted was still shrouded in ambiguity, saying it was also for such reasons as to ascertain the actual number of the girls that the committee was set up.

His words: "The President has directed that the security agencies should intensify efforts to rescue the Chibok girls. The President assures Nigerians that "wherever the girls are in the world, we will get them back, apprehend and punish the culprits.

"In view of the inconsistent and contradictory information available to government on the Chibok abduction, the President has set up a fact-finding committee comprising security agencies, civil society, international organisations and other stakeholders."

On the bomb explosion in Nyanya, Maku hinted that the president directed security chiefs to increase surveillance and expedite investigation into the explosion to ensure that those behind the heinous act are arrested and brought to justice.

"The President also gave instructions for additional proactive measures by security agencies to enhance public safety, including increased public awareness for citizens to step up their cooperation with security agencies by reporting suspected activities and persons likely to cause a breach of public peace, safety and security," he added.

Still on the abduction of the Chibok girls, he said the security chiefs briefed the president on efforts made so far to rescue the girls and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The minister stated: "Extensive and intensive aerial surveillance by the Air Force has been carried out in all the routes leading into and out of Chibok up to the Chad and Cameroun borders.

Other parts of Borno and Adamawa states are also under the searchlight. Every information relayed to security agencies has so far been investigated, including the search of all places suspected as a possible hide-away of the kidnapped girls.

"The police, backed up by the military and DSS, have combed and are still combing all reported places that the girls might have been taken to.

The President commiserates with the families of the deceased in the latest bombing at Nyanya, and empathises with all those who were injured in the incident. He has also directed full medical treatment for the victims at government expense.

"The President also shares in the pain and anguish of the parents and guardians of the Chibok girls abducted by the terrorists.

The President's heart goes out to these our unfortunate daughters who have had to endure the trauma of abduction and separation from their loved ones. The government and people of Nigeria stand solidly by them.

"The President further appeals to the parents, guardians, relations and members of the public to furnish security agencies with all the information that will assist in the rescue of the girls.

"Government also appreciates the public outpouring of support and the sentiment expressed so far by all Nigerians, including civil society groups who have come out to condemn the abduction of the girls and terrorism in the country. Government strongly believes that the people of Nigeria, standing together, will overcome the current security challenges."

The meeting which started by 11:00am was stepped down at 1:45pm in order to allow muslims attend the Friday prayers. It reconvene by 4:00pm and ended at about 6:30pm.

Present at the meeting are all the service chiefs, the Inpsector General of Police, Minister of Defence, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and a some ministers.

The meeting was also attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo.

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