TUESDAY, 22ND JULY, 2014:
The Nigerian President meets with the parents and some of the abducted girls who escaped from the stranglehold of Boko Haram. The girls were kidnapped on the 14th of April, 2014 and are students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. The parents were conveyed to the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa by four buses of the Abuja Urban Mass Transit. Thirty of the girls who escaped (some other reports indicate 51), parents of those still abducted and community leaders were also present at the meeting. They arrived the venue at 10.30 am. Others present at the meeting were top government officials and all the service chiefs.
The meeting commenced at 11.20 am shortly after the arrival of President Jonathan and the Senate President, David Mark. Governors of Borno and Bauchi States, Kashim Shettima and Isa Yuguda were also reportedly in attendance. Journalists were ordered out of the venue and the meeting declared to be held behind closed doors.
The meeting was initially scheduled for the 15th of July, 2014 but was cancelled by the distraught parents of the abducted girls. It was then rescheduled for Tuesday, the 22nd of July, 2014.
See below for photos and statement from the Presidency.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Tuesday in Abuja reassured the Chibok community that his Administration is doing everything humanly possible to rescue the over 200 girls abducted from a college there in April and return them safely to their parents.
Speaking at a meeting in the Presidential Villa with parents of the abducted girls, some of the girls who escaped from their abductors and leaders of the community, President Jonathan appealed for their patience, understanding and cooperation.
“Anyone who gives you the impression that we are aloof and that we are not doing what we are supposed to do to get the girls out is not being truthful.
“Our commitment is not just to get the girls out, it is also to rout Boko Haram completely from Nigeria. But we are very, very mindful of the safety of the girls. We want to return them all alive to their parents. If they are killed in any rescue effort, then we have achieved nothing,” President Jonathan told the parents and community leaders at the meeting which was also attended by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State and the Senate President, Senator David Mark.
The President said that although he was yet to visit Chibok in the aftermath of the abductions, his heart was constantly with its traumatized parents and people, and his desire was to visit them when their daughters have been freed and they can receive him with smiling faces of joy, rather than with tears of anguish.
“Our duty now is to take all relevant steps to recover our girls alive and our primary interest is getting them out as safely as possible. I will not want to say much, but we are doing everything humanly possible to get the girls out.
“This not the time for talking much. This is the time for action. We will get to the time that we will tell stories. We will get to the time that we will celebrate and I assure you that, by God’s grace, that time will come soon,” President Jonathan told them.
Responding to appeals from the community leaders for more help in overcoming some of the challenges imposed on Chibok and neighbouring communities by the Boko Haram insurgency, the President said that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Federal Medical Agencies will intensify their efforts to provide them with additional relief aid and assistance.
He also assured them that Chibok and other communities in the three North-Eastern States most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency will be the first beneficiaries of the Victims’ Support Fund, the Presidential Initiative for the North-East, the Safe Schools Initiative and other developmental programmes which the Federal Government is evolving to address the damage, losses, setbacks, economic and social dislocations occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“We solicit your maximum cooperation. Let us work together. Evil can never overcome good. We will surely overcome Boko Haram,” he told them.
In his remarks at the meeting, Governor Shettima called for more sobriety, reflection and unity of purpose in the fight against terrorism in the country.
He pledged that his state will give President Jonathan the fullest possible support for his efforts to address the problems caused by terrorism and the Boko Haram insurgency.
Dr. Pogu Bitrus presented the Chibok community’s address to the President.
Other speakers at the meeting included a district head, Mr. Zannamadu Usman, a member of the Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Aminu Foni Chibok, parents of the abducted girls and three of the girls who escaped from their captors, Godia Simon, Dorcas Musa and Joy Bishara.
National Security Chiefs, Ministers and other senior government officials were also present at the meeting.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
PHOTO CREDITS: STATE HOUSE.