Chris Steven, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured Nigerians, especially parents and loved ones of the kidnapped Chibok Secondary School girls, that his government is doing “everything within its means to ensure the safe release of all the girls.”
He urged Nigerians not to lose hope on the abducted girls.
The assurance was contained in a message issued by the Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina on Thursday, a day before the third Anniversary of the abduction of the girls by Boko Haram in April 2014.
The President said government is constantly in touch, through negotiators, with the captors of the Chibok girls.
“Government is in constant touch through negotiations, through local intelligence to secure the release of the remaining girls and other abducted persons unharmed,” the statement read in part.
“We have reached out to their captors, through local and international intermediaries, and we are ever ready to do everything within our means to ensure the safe release of all the girls.”
He reminded citizens that “we have had reason to celebrate the return of twenty-four of them and thousands of other Nigerians who were forcibly abducted by the terrorists.
“Our intelligence and security forces, who have aptly demonstrated their competence, are very much equal to the task and absolutely committed to the efforts to find and return the schoolgirls and others abducted by Boko Haram,” he promised.
President Buhari said that it was in demonstration of his administration’s commitment in ending the Boko Haram insurgency that his “administration gave the necessary political and logistical backing which energised gallant members of our armed forces and other security agencies to overrun the headquarters of Boko Haram in the Sambisa Forest and scatter the terrorists from their strong base.”
Twenty one of the girls were released in 2016 following negotiations with Boko Haram brokered by the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC.
“Today, the group has been degraded and is no longer in a position to mount any serious, coordinated attack, other than sporadic suicide attacks on soft targets.
“Even at that, their reach is very much confined to a small segment of the northeast where they had previously held sway unchecked,” he said.
To the parents and families of the kidnapped girls whose wards have remained in captivity for three years, Buhari said: “I feel what you feel.
Your children are my children. On this solemn occasion, my appeal is that we must not lose hope on the return of our remaining schoolgirls.”
Meanwhile, the Bring Back our Girls campaign group has organized series of activities aimed at drawing more global attention to the abducted girls and mounting more pressure on the Nigerian government to intensify efforts to rescue them.
The activities will culminate in an inaugural Chibok Girls Annual lecture series with the title: “Where Goes the Girl-Child there Goes the Nation”, to be delivered by former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the present Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi on Friday in Abuja.