#BringBackOurGirls’ Re-engagement With Mr President
Being the Text of the Statement Presented to Mr. President during
14 January 2016
Today is 640 days of the abduction of our Chibok girls. Exactly 21 months which means that in another three months it would be two years since our 219 Chibok girls were abducted and remain captives of terrorists without rescue by their government.
Mr President may wish to recall the meeting of 8 July , 2015 with representatives of the parents, community and our movement. At that meeting we demanded for speedy actions to rescue who at that time were spending 450 days in captivity. We also asked for the swift rescue of other victims of Boko Haram and made a number of demands and suggestions touching on the counterinsurgency efforts of the Federal Government. Mr President gave us very strong assurance that the Federal Government would take every decisive action necessary to rescue our Chibok girls as well as other affected citizens. Mr President’s pledge was consistent with the words of your inauguration speech of the 29th May, 2015 that “… we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.” Our expectation and the world at large was further bolstered when you declared December 31st, 2015 as the deadline for the military to defeat Boko Haram.
Mr President may also recall the commitment you made to implementing a number of measures concerning the welfare of the parents and the Chibok community.
Jointly with the parents and community, our Movement specifically demanded for a high level progress reporting mechanism from the Federal Government. When several weeks later , we saw no action on this particular demand, you may recall that we wrote a reminder letter of 3 August 2015. In that letter, we outlined all the outstanding measures for the girls, their parents and their community that had still not been implemented. That situation remains the same even today, Mr. President.
It is therefore with the deepest pain and disappointment that the parents, Chibok Community and our Movement are here again 6 months after our July 8 meeting to register our absolute dissatisfaction on the lack of progress. Our Chibok girls are neither rescued nor have the measures the Federal Government pledged to been instituted. Our disappointment was worsened recently when Mr President shocked the parents into a deeper throes of agony when you publicly gave the excuse “that there is no credible information about the girls’ whereabouts” as the reason our Chibok girls have not been rescued.
That “lack of credible intelligence” remark, Mr President, left the parents, the community, our movement, and the rest of the world was all the more shocked considering that the same Federal Government that made their rescue a key indicator of success and defeat of Boko Haram went ahead to declare victory on 31st December. How can we declare that our nation has won the war when our 219 daughters and other abducted victims are still not back?
The parents of our Chibok girls whom you successfully persuaded at our July 8 had following that meeting told our Movement that they had implicit trust in the words of Mr President that “everything will be done to rescue our daughters”. They specifically asked the Movement to give the administration the cooperation you had asked for during the meeting. We did so but refused to end our daily advocacy at the Unity Fountain which by today is DAY 625.
Mr President, it is extremely saddening that those same parents who had placed their implicit confidence in your July 8 promise to rescue their daughters are here today terribly traumatized, disconsolate and desperate for your reassurance and outline of convincing decisive action that would bring a positive closure to this historical tragedy.
There is no better way to convey the depth of the devastation of these parents than the fact that we today have the largest ever contingent of them who despite their meagre resources have paid their way to travel to Abuja in order to register their angst, disappointment demand for immediate rescue of their daughters by Mr President and the military.
We are compelled to ask the following questions, Mr President:
A. What does “lack of credible intelligence” mean in the light of diverse capabilities that Nigeria and the rest of the world can mobilize to “find credible intelligence”?
B. What concrete steps are being taken to find “credible intelligence”. With whom? By whom?
C. What timelines is the Federal Government working with?
D. When does the Federal Government want the parents to assume closure or is the rescue of our 219 Chibok girls on an open-ended timeline?
These are our demands, Mr President:
1. We want the Federal Government to share with the parents, community and our movement, a clear options approach of the rescue operation with timelines. This options approach and plan will enable the parents know when to determine closure on this tragedy.
2. We demand that the government should exhaust all the publicly offered leads and assistance on the whereabouts of our Chibok girls to achieve their rescue. The parents, community and our movement appreciate that the Federal Government is being guided by the failures of the past administration in being circumspect but it must not become a stumbling block to decisive actions for their rescue .
3. We outline four publicly available leads on the whereabouts and rescue of our Chibok girls that the Federal Government should provide update on:
A. The immediate past Chief of Defence Staff had said on May 26th 2014 that “the military knows where our girls are”.
B. The Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima publicly stated that he knew where our Chibok girls are held in an underground bunker.
C. A week or so ago, a retired Army Captain, and security expert spoke on Channels Television and declared that “our girls are alive and are somewhere in Sambisa forest where the military has not been able to access due to certain difficulties”.
D. A well known journalist , Mr. Ahmad Salkida has consistently publicly offered to provide credible proof about our girls’ whereabouts and help mediate in their release.
We insist that the Federal Government must maximally explore all these leads and routes for rescuing our 219 Chibok girls. There is a fierce “urgency of NOW” that must be reflected in the actions of Mr President and the Federal Government in rescuing our daughters of Nigeria who deserve the justice of freedom from terrorist captivity.
4. Finally Mr President, we again reiterate our recent letter to you requesting that you exercise your prerogative of mercy to pardon the soldiers sentenced for disobeying orders to fight terrorists unarmed; for the reason that as Mr President said earlier, they were not equipped. Sending them to fight without proper equipping was sending them on a suicide mission.
Thank you very much.
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls
HADIZA BALA USMAN