President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented that factionalisation of the Boko Haram group has hindered early release of the remaining abducted Chibok Girls but assured that he has not forgotten the secondary school girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in 2014.
This was contained in his message of good wishes to the people of Chibok, Borno State, as they held prayers and thanksgiving services to mark the sixth anniversary of the kidnapping of their daughters by Boko Haram terrorist group.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu said President Buhari regretted that the current Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on movement made it impossible for any government delegation to be with them during the event.
According to the statement issued on Monday, the President “however, assures the people of Chibok that he is still mindful of their welfare and their concerns, especially regarding our daughters who are still missing.
“On the specific issue of the freedom for the remaining girls held by the terrorists, the President notes the ongoing efforts on two fronts:
“The armed forces of the country who are on general operations in the entire region continue in their hope that they would encounter these girls, as they did thousands of other hostages, rescue and bring them back home.
“The nation’s security and intelligence community, in whom a lot of hope, is reposed in rescuing the abducted girls is making a lot of efforts using backroom channels to get them back to their families.
“These are processes, formal and informal that involve different groups with links to the terrorists, and are very tedious and uneasy as is seen in different parts of the world.
“The issue of the Chibok girls is not a forgotten issue. We cannot go to sleep over this matter. We are optimistic that ongoing efforts will yield something positive,” President Buhari assured.
“Unfortunately, an ongoing crisis within the Boko Haram leadership, which has led to factions and breakaway groups, brought a number of unforeseen challenges to the process of negotiating with the militants for the young women’s release.
“In the past few years, our armed forces have recorded huge successes in the battle against Boko Haram, but they have also been careful to ensure that as few civilian lives as possible were lost in the process. We would rather the young women still in captivity were freed alive.
“President Buhari also reflected on the progress being made by the freed ‘Chibok girls’, who were sponsored by his administration to study at the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, saying that he is proud of what they are doing.
“He encourages them to remain focused on their studies and on this unique opportunity that has been given to them by God, following their horrific time in captivity.
“President Buhari also commends Yakubu Nkeki, Lawan Zannah and Yana Galang, the executive officials of the Association of the Parents of the Abducted Girls from Chibok, on their steadfast efforts to advocate for the welfare of the parents, the freed women, and those still in captivity”, the statement concluded.