This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Jonathan - Nothing Is More Important Than Bringing Chibok Girls Home

Terrorism, one of the darkest phases in nation's history, says President Visits Abuja blast scene, hospitals, as victim begs for job Bomb attack averted in Kano Mosque

President Goodluck Jonathan in an article written by him on the Chibok abduction and published in Washington Post yesterday, reiterated that nothing was more important to him than bringing home the remaining schoolgirls abducted in April by terrorists at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

Also yesterday, the President while visiting EMAB Plaza, Abuja, scene of Wednesday's deadly bomb blast that had so far claimed 24 lives, described the current security challenges facing the nation as one of the darkest phases in its history. This came on a day the police in Kano averted what would have been a major terror attack in the state. In the article on the Chibok abduction, Jonathan said: "My heart aches for the missing children and their families. I am a parent myself, and I know how awfully this must hurt. Nothing is more important to me than finding and rescuing our girls."

The Boko Haram Terror group had abducted over 270 schoolgirls in Chibok in April, but about 70 of them have so far escaped from the terrorists and returned home.

On alleged silence of the President on the abduction, Jonathan said in the article: "I have had to remain quiet about the continuing efforts by Nigeria's military, police and investigators to find the girls kidnapped in April from the town of Chibok by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. I am deeply concerned, however, that my silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness.

"My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation. But let me state this unequivocally: My government and our security and intelligence services have spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home and the thugs who took them are brought to justice. On my orders, our forces have aggressively sought these killers in the forests of northern Borno State, where they are based. They are fully committed to defending the integrity of their country."

Continuing, Jonathan said his administration remained committed to the war against terrorism: "Since 2010, thousands of people have been killed, injured, abducted or forced by Boko Haram, which seeks to overwhelm the country and impose its ideology on all Nigerians. My government is determined to make that impossible. We will not succumb to the will of terrorists.

"The abduction of our children cannot be seen as an isolated event. Terrorism knows no borders. This month, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Britain and the United States established an External Intelligence Response Unit to share security information on such threats in West Africa. I propose that we build on this step to establish an enduring, worldwide commitment to destroying terrorism and those who finance or give safe haven to the terrorists.

"In September, I will urge the U.N. General Assembly to establish a U.N.-coordinated system for sharing intelligence and, if necessary, Special Forces and law enforcement to confront terrorism wherever it occurs. In Nigeria, there are political, religious and ethnic cleavages to overcome if we are to defeat Boko Haram. We need greater understanding and outreach between Muslims and Christians. We also know that, as it seeks to recruit the gullible, Boko Haram exploits the economic disparities that remain a problem in our country.

"We are addressing these challenges through such steps as bringing stakeholders together and creating a safe schools initiative, a victims' support fund and a presidential economic recovery program for northeastern Nigeria. We are also committed to ridding our country of corruption and safeguarding human and civil rights and the rule of law."

The President expressed optimism that something positive would very soon come out of the security challenges in Nigeria: "Something positive can come out of the situation in Nigeria; most important, the return of the Chibok girls, but also new international cooperation to deny havens to terrorists and destroy their organizations wherever they are - whether in the forests of Nigeria, on the streets of New York or sanctuaries in Iraq or Pakistan. Those who value humanity, civilization and the innocence of children can do no less." Jonathan visits scene of bomb blast...

At the scene of Wednesday's bomb blast in Abuja, Jonathan who was accompanied by the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu and top government functionary, was briefed by AIG Suleiman Abba. From there, the President proceeded to Maitama District Hospital where he was briefed by the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Dr. Mrs. Adetoun Adetimehin.

The President condemned "those who are bent on destroying the country, while some are striving hard to build it." However one of the victims that sustained injuries and being treated at Maitama District Hospital appealed to Jonathan to give him a good job.

He told the president that he was into selling recharge cards to make ends meet. The victim who sustained injury on his left leg, begged Jonathan to assist him to start a business. Speaking in Pidgin English, he told Jonathan: "Na recharge card I dey sell for Banex plaza Your Excellency. I don't have a job. See what I go through. Since yesterday I couldn't sleep.

"I finish school since, no job. I can't go and steal na recharge card I dey sell sir. If you people can help me to start better business to start my life again."

Jonathan replied: "We are happy you are alive. Thank God you are alive. Don't talk about business now." Speaking with Journalists after the visit to the hospital, the President noted that the current security challenge facing the country was the darkest phase in its history.

The President said: "It is quite regrettable and extremely painful that while some Nigerians are struggling, thinking about how to contribute to national development, they are working very hard to take care of their families, train their children, others are busy planning to kill people, intimidate people and destroy peoples' property.

"It is regrettable; it is one of the darkest phases in the history of our nation but surely we will get over it. Some other countries have passed through such cloud before and they were able to overcome it and they were able to sail through. We share the pains of the people who have been directly affected and the pains of their families but we will surely pass through this ugly phase of our history.

"The perpetrators of this; those who are directly involved and those who sponsor them will surely be brought to book. I will use this opportunity to continue to plead with our citizens that under such situation, security operatives will come up with different options that sometimes will create some inconvenience for us. Instead of condemning them, let us bear. We all bear some pains, from the highest to the least because as a President, I may not go to everywhere I would have loved to go. These are some of the challenges I have to face.

"Even for our citizens, under such condition, we have reached some level of restrictions and some pains. Instead of shouting and insulting security operatives, let's give them maximum cooperation; give them relevant information. All countries that face terror suffer the same thing. Citizens give maximum cooperation to the security operatives and help to contain and control. Surely we will get over this.

"We are all mourning. I remember that very day we had a football match to play and all Nigerians were celebrating the Eagles hoping they were going to win. Then, this act came up, I was airborne then. It was when I got down in Malabo that I got the information. Surely, we will get through this." Blast averted in Kano...

Also yesterday, the Kano State Police Command disclosed that it had foiled what would have been a massive bomb blast planted and primed in a car in a mosque in Dakata area of Kano metropolis. The state police commissioner, Mr. Aderenle Shinaba said: "Our bomb detectives promptly moved into the place when we got the information from Samaritans about the abandoned vehicle inside the Jumaat mosque at Sauna in Dakata." Shinaba told reporters that the detectives screened the vehicle and discovered 13 explosives devices inside the car. According to him, Items discovered included cylinder of high caliber and ammunitions. "We detonated one of the devices. It is a dangerous device which can pull down structures. What happened in Abuja explosion could have been a child play if these explosives exploded at the mosque in Sauna". The police commissioner said no arrest had been made but appealed to the people of the state for information, assuring that the identity of any persons that gives information to them would be keep secretly.

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