Nigeria: Buhari Rekindles Hope for Return of Remaining Chibok Girls, Leah Sharibu

Photo: This Day
Chibok girls.
13 April 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari has rekindled hope for the release of the remaining schoolgirls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State kidnapped five years ago and Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped from Dapchi Science Secondary School last year by Boko Haram terrorists.

He said there is hope about their return and he still stands with the promise he made to the parents of Chibok schoolgirls several years ago that he would get their children back.

"Diverse efforts are being intensified to secure the release of the Chibok girls, along with all hostages in Boko Haram captivity, including Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped from her school, Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018," Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari said Saturday, in a statement to mark the fifth anniversary of the abduction in Chibok, which will be marked Sunday.

President Buhari is aware that the promise he made is the main reason the people of Chibok voted overwhelmingly for him in the February elections.

Although his government has so far succeeded in bringing back 107 of the girls, President Buhari promised that he will not rest until the remaining are reunited with their families, Shehu said.

On Leah Sharibu's abduction, the interlocutors have reported encouraging progress so far.

"The report reaching us says her return to her family has unfortunately been hindered by the fear of the militants. They worry that heavy military presence in areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety after they return her to the government.

"At the same time, the military cannot jeopardise the security of the entire north-eastern region by halting their operations to accommodate Boko Haram's fears.

"Leah Sharibu will be reunited with her family as soon as any conclusions are reached on a number of options being considered for her safe transportation," Shehu said.

The president's spokesman said the success of the Nigerian military in subduing Boko Haram is evidenced by the large numbers of militants who have surrendered recently, especially in neighbouring Cameroon and Niger.

"A similar mass surrender of militants is expected to happen soon in Nigeria," he said.

"While Nigerian military operations are ongoing, the government is also engaging with the militants but the talks have been affected by the factionalisation of Boko Haram - with one group adopting a hard line attitude and intensifying attacks on Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and another group engaging with the government for peaceful resolution.

"President Buhari also uses this opportunity of the commemoration of the Chibok tragedy to commend the girls, now women, who have triumphed over it all.

"He sends special greetings to the 106 girls sponsored by the Nigerian government to continue their studies at the American University of Nigeria, Yola.

"He encourages them to stay focused on becoming women who will inspire girls in Nigeria and around the world to triumph over the daily battles they face in a world that is often unfair to the girl-child.

"President Buhari also extends his best wishes to Chibok girls in other schools in Nigeria and around the world.

"He sends special congratulations to Kauna Yaga Bitrus, who has excelled beyond expectations in her college in Maine, USA, and who is soon to receive a special 'Against All Odds Award' from her school," he said. (NAN)

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