16 April 2019

Nigeria: Chibok Girls' Case Not Closed - Govt

Photo: This Day
Chibok girls

The Federal Government has assured the international community that it is working with its Swiss partners and others, on a daily basis, to track and secure the release of remaining abducted Chibok Girls still in captivity.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this at a briefing at the Department of African Studies, Georgetown University, Washington DC.

The minister, who engaged members and students of the department on the development in the country, said that government has never one day forgotten or closed the case of the abducted girls.

"A few days ago was the fifth anniversary of the abducted girls and that means they were kidnapped more than a year before President Muhammadu Buhari administration came into power.

"It was the engagement of this government that led to the release of 107 of the girls and what I can assure you is that the government is still engaging in trying to find out where the girls are and what has become of them.

"However, some of these negotiations are very delicate due largely to the fact that it takes a lot of time and there is a sort of rationalization within the terrorist group.

"We are still working with our Swiss partners and the others every day so that we can be able to track where these girls are, what has become of them and how many are left.

"However, these are not something you can disclose, anyhow because of the sensitivity," he said.

Responding to question on the reintegration and sponsorship of the girls, the minister said, going by the experiences of the 107 girls that were released, the government took responsibilities for their reintegration and got them all back to schools.

He said only recently, there were media reports about the bright performances of some of the girls in their respective fields.

On the recently concluded general elections, the minister said the presidential poll was a referendum on the integrity of President Buhari and the triumph of the common Nigerians over the elites.

He said prior to the elections, there was a lot of misinformation and disinformation on the social media that would have marred or discredited the elections, but with proactive steps government overcame them.

The minister said that fake news was one of the major threat to the general elections, to the extent that some people had posited that "If there are polling booths on social media the opposition would have probably won".

He said that the government was tackling the menace of fake news through the vigorous campaign, which had helped to bring the danger to the fore.

He reiterated the position of the government not to gag the press or use coercion but appeal to the sensibilities of the people in fighting fake news.

Fielding questions on Boko Haram crisis, the minister said that the war could not be won only by the bullets and there is the need to give hopes and opportunities to the younger ones being indoctrinated and rehabilitate the victims.

Many of the younger ones are carried away by the terrorists' ideology because they feel hopeless, excluded from governance.

In winning the people away from the ideology and giving them hope and opportunities, he said the government would consolidate on its social intervention programmes.

He said some of the programmes were put in place to encourage medium and small scale enterprises and allow people access to credit facilities.

Dr Scott Taylor, the Director, African Studies In Georgetown, one of the top twenty universities in the US and number four in International Relations Programmes, thanked the minister for the interaction.

Journalists gathered that many of the students that took part in the briefing were from Nigeria.

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