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Borno Govt to Relocate Abducted Chibok Girls

News » Politics

Senator Iroegbu, Yemi  Akinsuyi in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Once they are freed, the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has promised to relocate the abducted Chibok schoolgirls to other parts of the country to conclude their secondary school education.

The governor’s statement coincided with news from Borno State that Boko Haram terrorists who have turned his state into a killing field continued their onslaught on villages and a church in the state, resulting in the death of 24 persons, including 14 suspected terrorists.

The governor said the state government would shoulder the responsibility of sponsoring all the girls to school in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Kaduna and other states in the country to repeat their final year and prepare them properly for their final year examinations.

The girls were sitting for their West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) when they were kidnapped from their hostel on the night of April 14.

Shettima said: “It is mandatory for the state government to ensure the speedy return or release of the girls and it is the sole responsibility of government to see that these our children are back home without politicising the matter.

“This is not politics, there is no need to play politics with the abduction of these children. We have children and we know what it is for these girls to be missing. We are human beings and should have feelings.”

He argued that the responsibility of maintaining security in the state was not his under emergency rule.
“Everything is in Abuja,” he said, adding that people stay put in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and cast doubts over the girls’ abduction.

“But we all have children and we know what it is to have a missing child and nothing is being done to rescue them before harm is inflicted on them. It worries me and it is so painful,” he said.

On what his government had been doing to console the parents of the abducted schoolgirls, Shettima said: “We have been directing the Chibok Local Government Chairman, Baana Lawal, and other community leaders to help us talk to them, appeal to them and console them on our behalf before we also come and also appeal to them too and console them over the delay in the release of their children.

“We are not unmindful of the trauma and plight they have been exposed to. The parents are suffering. The students too are suffering. Some do not even sleep because of their children.”

Shettima said the reason for the briefing was to appeal to the parents of the girls to continue to exercise restraint and be patient, saying: “We are doing our best and we shall not relent in our efforts to cushion your suffering and ensure the quick release of our daughters.”

Shettima also directed the Chibok council chairman to compile a comprehensible list and modalities on how the state government could be of assistance to the parents of the abducted schoolgirls and the girls who escaped from captivity while plans for their education outside the state is being pursued.

Earlier, Lawal, who led the parents of the abducted schoolgirls to the governor, said he could only come with 27 students out of the 57 who regained their freedom, explaining that the families of 30 of the other girls that escaped had relocated to other parts of the country just as some parents have left Chibok.

DHQ: Our Focus is to Save Girls
Notwithstanding the plans by the Borno State Government to relocate the abducted schoolgirls to other schools nationwide, the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-Gen Chris Olukolade, has restated that the main objective of the military and coalition effort is concentrated on their rescue.

Olukolade stated this yesterday, while speaking at the regular briefing by the National Information Centre located in the headquarters of National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja.

He said: “The essence of every ongoing activity by the military and other paramilitary agencies concerning the Chibok girls is to get our girls back safely and the three things that are paramount include the public interest, the safety of the girls and the wider interest of winning the war agains terror.”
He also cautioned the public to be vigilant at local bars and football viewing centres with the World Cup just a few days away.

“We want to appeal to members of the public who would be watching the matches at public viewing centres to be extra vigilant and report suspicious individuals to security agents,” he advised.

He said the joint efforts of troops and other security operatives in recent weeks had helped to foil several planned attacks on civilian targets in parts of the country as a result of improved intelligence gathering.

Also, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, gave an update on one of the masterminds of the Nyanya bus station bombing, Sadiq Ogwuche, who was arrested by Interpol in Sudan.

Mba said a high-ranking Interpol operative had left Nigeria since last week for Sudan with all the necessary documents to secure his extradition, adding that the fugitive would soon be back in the country to face the law.

Mba also appealed to the media and the public at large to exercise restraint in the way they speculate and analyse the status of the kidnapped girls.

Mubi Bomb Blast Suspect Arrested
On the bombing at a local bar on Sunday, Olukolade also confirmed that the military had arrested one person suspected to have been behind the terrorist attack in Mubi, Adamawa State.

He said the suspect was apprehended through a tip-off by members of the public.
“In recent operational engagements of troops deployed to fight terrorism in North-eastern Nigeria, a key suspect in the terror bomb explosion that rocked the Kabang community in Mubi, Adamawa State on Sunday evening has been arrested by troops who cordoned the area in a swift response to the explosion,” Olukolade said.

According to him, the suspect was nabbed when observant members of the public confirmed sighting him alight from the vehicle used in conveying the explosive device that was detonated in Kabang shortly before the explosion.
So far, he said, 19 persons wounded in the explosion had been evacuated and were receiving medical attention in hospitals while 18 others were confirmed dead.

Olukolade further disclosed that patrol troops had successfully repelled an ambush in Buratai community in Biu, a town in Borno State.

He explained that the troops who fell into the ambush laid by the Islamist fundamentalists while on patrol, engaged the terrorists in a decisive gun fight killing four of them and capturing one.

Also in Kawuri in Borno State, troops on patrol killed five terrorists during a shootout, he added.
“The troops also captured two AK47 rifles and two vehicles used by the terrorists,” he said.

Scores Killed in Borno Attacks
Despite the efforts by the troops to stem Boko Haram attacks, they continued to unleash mayhem in villages within Borno State where they engaged in gun battles which resulted in the death of scores of people, including 37 suspected Boko Haram members, in separate incidents in Gwoza, Biu and Konduga Local Government Areas on the state.

Nine people were killed in an attack on a church by Boko Haram insurgents at Attagara village in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State, a police source and fleeing resident said.
Also in Gwoshe town of Gwoza, suspected members of Boko Haram Sunday morning burnt down several houses, shops and two churches.

A police source said some armed men stormed the church at Attangara village and opened fire on worshippers during Sunday service at 9.30 am, killing nine people, adding that the community also mobilised and succeeded in killing the attackers.

It was gathered that the killing of worshippers in the church at Attangara led to a reprisal that claimed 37 insurgents.
Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Borno State chapter, Reverend Titus Pona, confirmed the incident on the phone to journalists in Maiduguri.

He said: “I was told by my members that 37 suspected Boko Haram members were killed after an attack on Attangara and Agapalwa villages.
“Most of the villages attacked in Gwoza, Bayan Dutse areas in the last one week are dominated by Christians.”

Troops Withdrawn from Mali
However, in a bid to boost the number of troops in the North-east, the federal government has decided to withdraw its peacekeeping forces in Mali in order to redeploy them in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States where the insurgents have been riding roughshod over residents in the three states.

Revealing this yesterday at a two-day retreat on Nigeria’s foreign policy, Senate President David Mark said the insurgency had become a major challenge to Nigeria’s efforts at forging relationships with her French-speaking neighbours.
“The activities of Boko Haram insurgents are beginning to affect Nigeria’s foreign policy,” Mark said.
Mark, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Senator Anthony Manzo, said any government’s foreign policy is an extension of its domestic policy.

“Let me alert to the domestic exigency that is now dominating and affecting Nigeria’s foreign policy.
“The onslaught of Boko Haram insurgents in northern Nigeria presently constitutes a serious national security threat.
“If a foreign policy is a reflection of the domestic policy, then their acts have invariably affected and determined our foreign behaviour,” he said.

Mbu Bans Chibok Protests
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police (CP) of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Joseph Mbu, yesterday announced the ban of all protests over the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls in Abuja with immediate effect.
Mbu, who announced the ban at a news conference, said the protests in the FCT were posing a serious security threat.

“Protests on the Chibok girls are hereby banned with immediate effect,” he said.
He said after a group under the aegis of #BringBackOurGirls protested on April 28, another group #ReleaseOurGirls emerged.

Mbu explained that information at the disposal of the command showed that “dangerous elements” were about to hijack the protest, hence the ban.

“As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness (protests). Information reaching us indicates that very soon, dangerous elements will join groups under the guise of protests and detonate explosives aimed at embarrassing the government,” he said.

The CP said the “Fountain of Unity”, the venue for gathering of the protesters, had been turned into a place for “cooking and selling.”
According to him, many diplomats live in Abuja and he called on the city’s residents to encourage the security agencies in the war against terrorism and criminality by appreciating the sacrifices they had made and would continue to make.

Asked whether the ban would not violate freedom of expression and assembly as enshrined in the constitution, the commissioner said one person’s freedom should not impede another person’s freedom.

“People have been protesting for over a month now. This is a problem of terrorism; it is not solved in one day. Then when you continue to do it persistently, it becomes a nuisance to the government,” he said.
The commissioner also announced the revocation of permits earlier issued to vehicles with tinted glasses in Abuja.

“Yes, there was a period when permits were granted but the recent security challenges have compelled the police authorities to revisit the issue and we have resolved to revoke same.

“The permits issued so far remain revoked and you are hearing this from my mouth the FCT police boss. The only authority to grant tinted glass permits is the Inspector-General of Police himself in his personal capacity and signature,” he said.
The FCT Command also announced the sack of all the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the FCT, directing them to hand over to the next senior police officer in their respective divisions.

FCT spokesperson, DSP Altine Daniel, said the decision was taken after the commissioner met with the DPOs yesterday.
“The Commissioner of Police has directed the redeployment of all Divisional Police Officers. They are to hand over to the next senior person in the various divisions. The CP was not satisfied with their conduct as the Divisional Police Officers,” she said.
Before his transfer to the FCT Command, Mbu was the controversial Rivers State Police Command CP.

But in reaction to the ban on the Chibok protests, the former World Bank Vice-President, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, who is also one of the organisers of the #BringBackOurGirls protests, condemned the ban and vowed to continue the protests.

Speaking on CNN last night, she said the ban was a violation of the freedom of association and speech guaranteed by the constitution and that her group had done nothing to warrant the ban.

“This is a case of an overzealous police commissioner as he seeks to please the powers that be,” she said.
She said her group had even relocated to a new location when a rival group, #ReleaseOurGirl, took over the space they once used as their convergence point.

She said the group would go to court to challenge the propriety of the ban, adding that it was motivated by other motives other than the reason given by the FCT police commissioner.

Similarly, a lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Festus Keyamo, slammed the ban imposed by Mbu.
In a statement yesterday, he called the ban “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void”, adding that it was against the spirit and letters of Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“All the above guarantee freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association,” he said.
“It is shocking that the federal government, hiding under the facade of the police, has finally openly displayed its disdain for the public outcry over the kidnap of those innocent souls. The federal government would really have wished that we all went about our normal businesses and live in denial like it did for many weeks.

“The government has shown that it is more concerned about its image and self-preservation than the safety of those girls.
“This is the height of irresponsibility and insensitivity to the plight of the Chibok girls and their family members. At a time when government has not shown the capacity to protect lives and properties, it is even denying the citizens the basic right to cry out about government’s inaction.

“It is like beating a child mercilessly and choking the child at the same time to prevent the child from crying out. It is inhuman, it is degrading and it is humiliating,” Keyamo added.

He said Mbu’s order should be rescinded immediately or else the federal government should be prepared to arrest and lock up all Nigerians, reminding the government that “even the military did not succeed in muzzling Nigerians like the federal government wants to do by this feeble order”.



Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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