The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali on Monday said he did not give a timeline for the rescue of the Dapchi schoolgirls but rather said that the Nigerian troops were closing in on abductors.
He had also affirmed that efforts has been intensified to ensure the safe return of the abducted girls to their parents.
The minister was responding to some reports by some news outfits (not Daily Trust) quoting him as saying on Dateline Abuja, a Channels Television interview programme which was aired at the weekend that the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls will regain their freedom in two weeks.
In a statement signed by the minister's public relation's officer, Colonel Tukur Gusau, the Defence minister added that he was quite mindful of the prevailing high public anxiety over the girls' safety so he was very careful in answering the interviewer's question about giving a specific timeline because of the delicate nature of the issue.
The statement reads in part, "The timeline he talked about was strictly an operational timeline which was to determine the progress of the ongoing search by the defence forces but definitely not a timeline for the girls' freedom because of the delicate emotional fallout it could have on the girls' parents and loved ones".
According to the minister, it was necessary to put his comment in the right context in view of the expected public interest and possible mischief that may be created in certain partisan quarters which may have been generated since the interview was aired.
He explained that when he was asked to give a timeline for the girls' rescue, he emphasized that government had intensified efforts and deployed considerable manpower sufficient enough to raise hopes but being a purely operational matter, it would be absolutely unfeasible and impracticable to give a specific timeline for the eventual freedom of the abducted girls.
His words,"We will ensure that whatever means to rescue these girls will be done to get the girls... This type of issue has no timeline. Even if it has, we can only give it (timeline) to the forces, i.e. these means we want you to give us an output of what you've been doing, but for this kind of issues you cannot say by this time you must bring them by so (and) so date".
He added: "It can be earlier, may be a week, it can be two weeks, but we are on it, and I'm telling you with all sense of sincerity that we are closing in on them".