Chibok girls: Police block BBOG protesters from Aso Rock

By The Citizen

The #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of conducting its affairs like the former administration of Goodluck Jonathan.

It noted that this was apparent in its handling of the issue of the abducted Chibok girls, insecurity across the country, welfare of the internally displaced persons, military welfare, corruption and poor governance.

The group said this on Sunday during its commemoration of the 1000th day of the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in Borno State by the Boko Haram sect.

The coalition members, who marched towards the Presidential Villa, Abuja, were blocked by riot policemen and women who cordoned off the entrance road to the seat of government.

But the Co-coordinator of the group, Oby Ezekwesili, informed the leader of the police team who was in mufti that the BBOG members were not interested in marching to the villa.

The group thereafter addressed newsmen and pasted the posters of the Chibok schoolgirls on the bridge.

A co-coordinator of the coalition, Aisha Yesufu, who read a statement on behalf of the movement, noted that the Federal Government had not given any update on the status of the remaining girls in the Boko Haram custody after 21 of them were released last year.

'As with the Jonathan administration, the Buhari administration's response to issues about the Chibok girls is representative of its handling of other issues — insecurity, welfare of internally displaced persons, military welfare, corruption and poor governance,' the BBOG stated.

The group said it had resolved to carry out a series of activities for a period of one week to compel the government 'to accelerate the decision and actions necessary to bring back the rest of our Chibok Girls to an anxiously waiting nation.'

The actions, it added, would also serve to remind Nigerians and the international community of the continued state of insecurity in the country.

'Painfully, #Day1000 of their tragic abduction is here and there has been no status report provided by the Federal Government. As such, we are constrained to resume our various activities to mark this tragic milestone, expecting Mr. President to regard this #Day1000 milestone as an overdue time to bring this horrific saga to an end,' Yesufu stated.

She explained that since 2014 when the 279 girls were abducted, 57 escaped, four were found and 21 were released with four infants.

She added that 19 Chibok parents had died during the period while 195 girls were still missing.

However, President Buhari on Sunday assured all stakeholders that the remaining girls would soon be reunited with their parents.

In a statement on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President restated the commitment of the Federal Government to securing the release of the girls.

Buhari said, 'We are grateful to God that on this landmark day, we are not completely in the depths of despair, but buoyed with hope that our daughters will yet rejoin their families and loved ones.

'Three of them have been recovered by our diligent military, while the freedom of 21 others was secured through engagement with their captors.

'We are hopeful that many more will still return as soon as practicable.'

The President reiterated his pledge, pronounced many times in the past, that government would not spare any effort to reunite the girls with their families.

'I salute the fortitude of the distraught parents. As a parent also, I identify with their plight. Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, months turned to years, and today, it is 1,000 days.

'The tears never dry, the ache is in our hearts. But hope remains constant, eternal, and we believe our pains will be assuaged.

'Our hopes will not be shattered, and our hearts will leap for joy, as more and more of our daughters return. It is a goal we remain steadfastly committed to,' the President said.

On the occasion of the 1,000 days, Buhari commended all who had been in the vanguard for the recovery of the girls, nationally and internationally.

'Someday soon, we will all rejoice together. Our intelligence and security forces are unrelenting, and whatever it takes, we remain resolute. Chibok community, Nigeria, and, indeed, the world, will yet rise in brotherhood, to welcome our remaining girls back home. We trust God for that eventuality,' the President stressed.

Meanwhile, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has hailed Buhari for the Nigerian Army's impeccable feat of routing the Boko Haram insurgents from their Sambisa Forest stronghold.

Umahi gave the commendation at an inter-denominational service to mark the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Abakaliki on Sunday.

Represented by Dr. Kelechi Igwe, his deputy, Umahi said Buhari had shown that he was commanding the Nigerian armed forces effectively.

'The feat is unprecedented in the nation's long years of fighting insurgency and militancy and it signifies continued security for the nation's troubled areas.

'The president's military expertise was brought to bear in routing the insurgents from their stronghold as he combined military skills and finesse to achieve the feat.

'He also assembled the best, high-ranking officers in the military to storm the Sambisa Forest an haven of the insurgents and matched them force to force which destabilised them,' he said. – Punch.