Monday, 8 May 2017

Chibok girls’ release, second anniversary gift to Nigerians –Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday described the Saturday’s release of 82 Chibok girls by the Boko Haram sect as his administration’s pleasant second anniversary gift to Nigerians.

Buhari said this while formally receiving the rescued girls behind closed doors at his official residence inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had, earlier in the day, received the girls at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on behalf of the President.

The girls were thereafter taken to DSS Medical Centre for medical attention before being driven in two luxury buses to meet with the President some minutes after 7pm.

State House correspondents, who had been waiting eagerly for them since 2pm, were not allowed into the venue of the reception with the only exception being the Nigerian Television Authority crew.

A copy of the prepared text the President read at the reception was later made available to journalists.

The President promised that the Presidency would personally supervise the performance of those entrusted with the girls’ welfare and commitments made by the Federal Government on their health, education, security and general well-being.

He said, “This is a pleasant second anniversary gift to the people of Nigeria. I cannot express, in a few words, how happy I am to welcome our dear girls back to freedom.

“On behalf of all Nigerians, I will like to share my joy with you, your parents, your relatives, friends and Government of Borno State on regaining your freedom.

“The Federal Government will like to commend the security agencies, the Red Cross, local authorities, local and foreign NGOs and all those who contributed in one way or another to secure the release of our Chibok girls.”

Some top government officials including ministers and service chiefs joined Buhari to receive the girls.

At the end of the session, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Me. Femi Adesina, said the President promised that all that was expected to be done to rehabilitate the girls into the society would be done.
The Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sani, said an unnamed negotiator, the Swiss Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross led the negotiation for the release of the abducted schoolgirls.

Sani, who had been part of previous negotiations between the Federal Government and Boko Haram, however, declined to speak on the role he played in the release of the girls, who were abducted from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.

The Senator, also refused to speak on the telephone to one of our correspondents but referred him to his posts on his Facebook wall.

In his Facebook posts, Sani stated, “The negotiations were led by a recent winner of an international humanitarian award, aided by the Swiss (Government) in the mediation process; monitored by the ICRC and made possible by the DSS (Department of State Services).

“It involved some levels of travels to Bern (Switzerland) and Sudan.”

Speaking earlier to The Guardian of UK, the Senator said the negotiations were led by the former lawyer for Mohammed Yusuf, the late founder of Boko Haram.

Sani told The Guardian he introduced the lawyer-turned-negotiator to the Federal Government and came up with a road map for the talks.

He explained that two of the 82 girls were physically injured – one had a wrist injury and the other on crutches.

How freed girls were brought to Army base –ICRC

The spokesperson for the ICRC, Aleksandra Matijevic, told The PUNCH on Sunday that the ICRC’s role was to transport the schoolgirls from a forest, held by the Boko Haram terrorists, to the Army base in Banki town.

She said, “Our role in the release was to ensure the transport of the girls from the armed position to the other side. We transported the girls to the government side and to the military. This took us two days because of bad weather.

“The medical examination of the girls would be the next step after handing them over to the government, but the ICRC is not involved in that.

“You should also note that the negotiation for the girls was a political process, and we, at ICRC, are apolitical. Hence, the transportation was our only role.”

The Deputy Regional Director, ICRC Africa, Patrick Youssef, in a series of tweets, said, “Acting as a neutral intermediary, we ,at the ICRC, transported 82 Chibok girls to the government of Nigeria. Since Friday, we facilitated the safe return of the girls in Nigeria.”