•  CAN, Obaseki, urge FG to rescue Leah Sharibu

By Omololu Ogunmade and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja warned security agencies to ensure that the untoward development of abduction does not repeat itself in the country again, threatening that security forces would henceforth be held responsible for any further repeat of such incident.

The President who issued the threat while receiving 105 students of Government Girls Science and Technical College, kidnapped on February 19 in Dapchi, Yobe State along with two others freed by Boko Haram on Wednesday, in the Presidential Villa, also said the government would not hesitate to thoroughly deal with anyone who opts to politicise security.

Buhari said he had directed the security agencies to ensure that adequate security is beefed up around schools in the violence-ridden North-eastern Nigeria and simultaneously ensure the safety of both students and their teachers.

The President who said the country had suffered enough degree of hostilities, admonished Nigerians to embrace peace, pledging that further efforts were being made for the release of all who are still in captivity.

He assured parents of Chibok girls still in captivity not to lose hope, saying his government is more determined than ever before, to ensure that the remaining Chibok girls are rescued.

The President also pledged that the government was ready to accept and reintegrate into the society any repentant member of Boko Haram who unconditionally lays down his arms as he narrated how he had earlier given assurance of unconditional release of the girls when he visited Yobe State on March 14.

Disclosing that he had earlier instructed security agencies to ensure that the girls returned unhurt, he said the directive paid off with the release of the girls as he thanked international partners and all who collaborated with Nigeria during the negotiation process. 

Buhari who said the release of the girls was unconditional, stated that the government opted to enter into negotiations with the abductors with a view to ensuring the safety of the girls, adding that the freed girls would henceforth be free to pursue their education without any fear of violence.

In his presentation, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, who put the number of the released girls at 105, noted that two other school pupils who had earlier been abducted by the terrorists brought the number of freed abductees received yesterday to 107.

Daura, who did not affirm the eye witness account of one of the freed girls on Wednesday that five of them died of suffocation on the day of abduction, stated rather that six of the abducted girls still remained unaccounted for, with a pledge that dialogue for their release was still ongoing.

Daura also said acting on the directive of the President to employ peaceful strategy in ensuring the timely release of the girls, intense dialogue which he said was arduous and challenging, was adopted, pointing out that a number of hiccups encountered during the process made the negotiation process complex and complicated.

He said the reasons for embracing dialogue for the negotiation went beyond the search for the release of the girls to include the search for permanent end to terrorist activities. He listed other motivating factors for the dialogue to include: discussing the fate of arrested terrorists and that of other Nigerians held by Boko Haram as well as the possibility of granting amnesty to repentant terrorists.

However, Daura said the factors listed above had been difficult to achieve because certain issues including the factionalisation of Boko Haram, negative effects of social media and unguarded utterances of some government agencies whom he said were not authorised to comment on the matter further militated against the pursuit.

Daura who also disclosed that upon the girls’ release, they were taken to the hospital to ensure they were mentally and psychologically stable, observed that evaluation conducted by medical personnel revealed that four of the released girls had their limbs broken and consequently sent for Xray. 

Furthermore, Daura disclosed that all of them had contacted one skin disease or the other following their inability to take their bathe for over a month, adding however, that they had accordingly been treated. 

Besides the girls, he said four representatives of the Dapchi school including the principal, vice principal and parents of the girls were brought into the medical facility in Abuja with a view to relieving tension and anxiety adding that the decision had helped to stabilise the girls. 

Called to speak on behalf of the freed girls, Fatima Bashir, thanked Buhari for coming to their rescue and ensuring that their safety was guaranteed.

Obaseki urges FG on Sharibu’s rescue, lauds release of 104 girls

Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has urged the federal government to intensify effort to rescue the remaining Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who is still being held by Boko Haram insurgents. 

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, Obaseki said the decision by Boko Haram insurgents to hold on to Leah, a minor, after releasing 104 girls, is condemnable and stressed that urgent steps should be taken to reunite Leah with her family.

“It is important to condemn the practice where people are subjected to torture and discriminated against on the grounds of differences in faith and cultures,” he added.

The governor, however, lauded the federal government for the successful rescue of 104 abducted girls in Dapchi, Yobe State, noting, “The effort of the federal government in rescuing the girls after their abduction is laudable.”

Free Leah Sharibu, CAN tells FG

In a related development, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday urged the federal government to intervene and ensure that Leah Sharibu is freed.

This is as the Christian body also called for the release of the remaining girls of the Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno State that were kidnapped since April 14, 2014.

CAN in a statement yesterday by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media & Communications) to the CAN President, said it was deeply worried, surprised and disappointed that not all the girls were rescued and indeed, that one of them was left behind simply because of her Christian faith. 

“This has once again, confirmed our position that the primary target of the terrorists are the Nigerian Christians as severally professed by their spokesman, Shekau. 

“We are deeply troubled and disturbed that negotiators brought in by the Federal Government made feeble attempts to secure the release of Leah Sharibu who insisted on not renouncing her faith and converting to Islam, a development that affirmed that Christians are endangered in their own country. 

“To us, the development has brought to the fore past incidents in which some Christian girls were kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam and forced into marriages without the consent of their parents in some states in the North.”

“We are sad that all our cries for government’s intervention and that of relevant security agencies over the callous, ungodly and wicked acts intervene have been falling into their deaf ears.