Today, 3rd July 2014 will make it 80days since the abduction of the Chibok girls. It will also be 37 days
since the Chief of Defense Staff informed the nation that they knew where the girls were and that rescue plans were at an advanced stage. We called this press conference today to express our deep concern that in spite of numerous assurances, the Chibok Girls have still not been rescued. We believe that our entire nation has been in great pain since that night of 14th April when the girls were abducted. It will be recalled that Nigeria woke to the troubling news of the abduction on April 15th, the day after the Nyanya bomb blast in Abuja. The Nigerian Army had at some point shortly thereafter reported the successful rescue of the girls, except for eight (8) girls; but it later recanted that claim of a successful rescue by the Military.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, we called this press conference this afternoon because of our fears given the frightening silence from our government on the rescue operation. We have noted the no-progress report recently ascribed to a Pentagon spokesperson, Rear Admiral John Kirby, who spoke on the US support to our government: “We don’t have any better idea today than we did before about where these girls are, but there’s been no let up of the effort itself.” Also, Ambassador Phillip Carter of the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) reminded Nigerians that the U.S. government is only assisting the Nigerian government on the kidnap that has sparked protests across the globe, stating: “Fundamentally, the question of what this is achieving, that is a question you should pose to the Nigerian government and not AFRICOM.”
This has always been our position in the #BringBackOurGirls movement that the responsibility for this rescue rests with our government and our security agencies. For the past six weeks, no substantive communication on the issue has come from the Federal Government or the Presidency. The Nigerian people need and expect credible information from Government.
Since the 30th of April march to the National Assembly, our movement has steadfastly sustained a daily sit-out at the Unity Fountain (64th daily sitting as of today) to keep the grave issue of the abduction of the Chibok girls as a priority focus of the Federal Government. The Nigerian public and the international community became more aware of the tragedy that had befallen the Chibok girls as a result of the symbolism of the daily sit-out of the Abuja #BringBackOurGirls movement. It was in response to the pressure emanating from our movement that official reactions to the matter started to emerge from the Federal Government including the Presidential Media Chat and the subsequent establishment of the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee. We recall that hopes had been raised following the declaration of the President in Paris that: “Wherever these girls are, we’ll get them out, apprehend, and punish the culprits.” A few weeks after, on May 26th, the Chief of Defense Staff informed the public that they had located the abducted Chibok girls reiterating that the Army would do everything necessary to #BringBackOurGirls, further boosting our hope.
What we have seen however is the escalation of persistent attacks on Nigerians with more mass killings, more abductions and mass destruction of property in Chibok, surrounding villages, and the rest of the country. Our movement is therefore making the following demands:
1. An accurate assessment of the effectiveness of the ongoing rescue operation and more credible communication of progress to the public by our Federal Government on its mission to #BringBackOurGirls without compromising sensitive operational information. This should include conveying substantive targets and milestones attained so far in the rescue operation.
2. Reassure Nigerians on the adequacy and effectiveness of the Federal Government’s counter insurgency strategy especially in responding to the worsening insecurity condition in Chibok and other parts of Borno State where the Federal Government reported that it had deployed about 20,000 Nigerian soldiers earlier in May as well as intensifying attention to the most vulnerable zones of the North East and the rest of the country in that order.
3. Review of the financing of our security operations by the Federal Government and the National Assembly to ensure adequacy and value for money especially with regard to:
a. allocation of resources for adequate compensation and welfare of security personnel in the Military and other security agencies;
b. equipment, weapons, intelligence tools and systems; and
c. base support facilities.
4. Convene a government-citizens’ national forum on national security as a pathway to rebuilding trust. This should help mobilize and unite the Nigerian people especially communities and families affected by terrorism, against our common enemy: the insurgents currently destabilizing our nation.
The membership of the #BringBackOurGirls movement remains resolute in our advocacy for the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls until there is success and closure. In standing with members of the Chibok community, directly affected and who are part of our movement, we daily demonstrate the spirit of a unified Nigerian society devoid of the divisions of ethnicity, culture, religion, politics, language, and other divides. We wish to convey our gratitude to our security personnel in the frontline of the rescue operation and to encourage their gallant effort. We again repose confidence in our Federal Government that with absolute focus and dedication to the rescue operation, it can #BringBackOurGirls in the shortest possible time.