Presidency: We did give N100 million bribe to Chibok parents
The Presidency Tuesday denied the allegation that the federal government gave a N100-million bribe to the parents of the over 200 abducted female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State when they visited President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday, last week.
It described the allegation as the handiwork of blacmailers.
The leader of the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners and former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, had tweeted that the federal government offered N100 million to the distressed Chibok parents, describing it as “filthy lucre” and “disgusting” via her twitter handle, @obyezeks.
But the Presidency last night reacted to the allegation as the Senior Personal Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, described the allegation as “wholesomely untrue and acts of blackmail against the federal government”.
Special adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati , also denied the report that money was given to the Chibok delegation.
The money was allegedly given by the President after a meeting in Abuja on July 22.
Abati said, “Nobody distributed any envelope after the meeting. The meeting was held in the Villa, a public place. After the meeting, the President left and the parents as well as the children went into their buses in the presence of the media,” he said.
According to him there was no time for money to be given after the meeting.
“The President is not part of will never do anything to bribe anybody. This issue is not about money. We are talking about human lives here.
“The allegation is completely wild. What they are claiming is unknown to the President. Whoever is claiming it should prove it because no such thing happened.
“The commitment of the President is to get the girls back safely. It is not about bribing anybody. This is a very serious matter and we will like to appeal to those who want to play politics with it, using all kinds of tricks to ridicule the efforts of the administration, to always appeal to their individual conscience and realise that what we are dealing with here is a very serious matter and not a matter of mischief,” he added.
But the BBC Hausa Service said that the sharing formula for the N100m cash gift sparked a serious disagreement between some of the parents and leaders of the Chibok community in Abuja as the parents complained of being shortchanged in the sharing of the money.
There were reports that the Presidency allegedly released the fund to the leaders of the Chibok community in Abuja, as a palliative measure, for onward distribution to parents of the kidnapped girls after the meeting.
However, trouble started when some of the parents who felt cheated with the sharing of the largesse accused the leadership of the community in Abuja of shortchanging them.
One of the parents told BBC Hausa Service: “I got only N200,000 out of the said N100m allegedly received by our leaders in Abuja. Some of us got N300, 000 and some less than that,” he said.
The aggrieved parent said that he was not happy with the way the money was shared as he felt shortchanged.
“Our leaders in Abuja are using the girls to enrich themselves. In fact, some of the parents were screened out of the entourage by the Chibok leaders in Abuja. Many of them are residents of Abuja, not parents of the kidnapped girls,” he said.
Another parent, who was screened out of the delegation that visited the President, said he got only N7,000 out of the money that was shared.
“I was at the farm when they brought the N7,000 to my house and I collected it. Some of us got even less, N300 and below,” he said. aggrieved parents stressed that they were not selling their daughters and that the money from the President just came to them without their asking or expecting it.
One of the community leaders, Pobu Bitrus, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, was at the meeting with the President.
Bitrus told the BBC that after the meeting with the President, money was distributed to the parents in envelopes.
“After we met with the Presidency, the parents were given money in envelopes and that's all. All other things they are saying about N100m, I don't know about that,” he said.
Tsambido Abana, chairman of the community, described as false allegations that the money was shared among the parents and that some were short changed by the leadership of the association.
Abana, in a telephone interview yesterday, said there was no truth in the report that Presidential officials doled out N100m to the parents and the escaped girls that held a parley with the President.
He said: “There is no iota of truth in that report. I don't even want to talk about it because I don't know how such a story came about. The money that was shared to the parents was handled by presidency officials who gave out envelopes to the parents, so I was not involved in the sharing and I can't say anything about it.”
Meanwhile, not fewer than eight persons were said to have been killed and a major bridge in Yobe State destroyed when gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect attacked Katarko village on Monday, residents and a security official said.
According to reports, the gunmen, who came in large numbers, could not be matched by the soldiers at a check point about 300 metres away from the village.
“They came at 7:30pm,” said Lawan Ali, a resident of Katarko who spoke from Buniyadi, the headquarters of Gujba Local Government Area of the Yobe State, where he sought refuge after the attack.
“They stormed our village with some vehicles and many motorcycles, shooting and chanting Allahu Akbar (God is great).
“Some of them could be mistaken for solders because of their dressing which resembled that of the Nigerian soldiers. “The soldiers in Katarko had to flee after seeing the large number of the attackers.
“After attacking the village and killing about eight persons and injuring others who were not so lucky to escape, we later heard a thunderous explosion at the location of the bridge; we all fled into the bush. But in the morning, we found out that the bridge had been destroyed with bombs,” Lawan added.
Residents of the village lamented that with the destruction of the bridge, the village would be cut off from other part of Yobe State as the rain intensified.
The attack on Katarko village was the first on the community despite its proximity to Sambisa forest.
Abbas Gava, a member of the Nigerian vigilante group in Borno State, who also confirmed the incident, said he was communicating with his colleagues in the state on the incident.