Friday, May 2, 2014 9:58 pm
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday directed the constitution of a Presidential Committee on the rescue efforts of the female students abducted from Government Girls’ College, Chibok Borno State over two weeks ago.
The setting up the panel came as the police in the state rolled out new figures about the number of the abducted girls.
Borno state police commissioner Lawan Tanko said his officers and other security agencies revised the figure after “intensive and extensive investigation, consultations and collation of figures from parents and the school”.
“So far, we have a comprehensive list of 276 girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on April 14 and out of this figure, 53 were able to escape and return,” he said.
“The number of girls being held by their abductors stands at 223 but this figure is not exhaustive and may change because we have made an announcement calling on parents whose daughters are missing from the school to come forward and register their names.
“We have documented all the 53 girls that escaped.”276 girls were initially abducted and that 223 of them are still in the captivity of Boko Haram militants. An earlier figure by the parents of the girls said 234 of them were missing.
The decision to set up of the Presidential Committee was taken at the high level security meeting called by President Jonathan on Friday to review the security situation in the country, particularly Thursday night bombing at Nyanya and the unfortunate kidnapping by suspected terrorists of the students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on 15th April, 2014.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Defence Minister, General Aliyu Gusau (rtd), Service Chiefs and heads of security agencies.
Labaran Maku, Nigeria minister of Information said in a statement that the meeting received updates on the second Nyanya bombing, the ongoing search for the Chibok girls, and efforts made so far to deal with related incidents of insecurity and terrorism in the country from and bring the perpetrators to justice from the security chiefs.
The minister revealed that that the military chiefs told the meeting was that extensive and intensive aerial surveillance by the Air Force has been carried out in all the routes leading into and out of Chibok up to the Chad and Cameroun borders in search of the abducted girls.
He added that other parts of Borno and Adamawa states are also under the searchlight while information relayed to security agencies has so far been investigated, including the search of all places suspected as a possible hide-away of the kidnapped girls by a combined team of military, police and States Security Services officers.
“In view of the inconsistent and contradictory information available to government on the Chibok abduction, the President has set up a fact-finding committee comprising security agencies, civil society, international organisations and other stakeholders” the minister said .
In a press statement released on Friday evening, Senator Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation said the Committee whose work shall be largely fact finding is charged with the following terms of reference:
-To liaise with the Borno State Government and establish the circumstances leading to the School remaining open for boarding students when other schools were closed;
To liaise with relevant authorities and the parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted;
-To interface with the Security Services and Borno State Government to ascertain how many of the missing girls have returned;
-To mobilise the surrounding communities and the general public on citizen support for a rescue strategy and operation;
-To articulate a framework for a multi-stakeholder action for the rescue of the missing girls;
-To advise Government on any matter incidental to the terms of reference.
The SGF listed members of the Committee to include:
(i) Brig. General Ibrahim A. Sabo (Rtd.) – Chairman
(ii) Barrister Femi Falana, SAN – Member
(iii) Hajia Hawa Ibrahim – Member
(iv) Hajia Fatima Kwaku – Member
(v) 2 representatives of National Council of Women
Societies (NCWS) – Member
(vi) 2 representatives of the All Nigeria Conference of
Principals of Secondary
Schools (ANCOPSS), one of whom shall be a female
(vii) 2 representatives of the National “ – Member
Parents Teachers Association
(viii) 2 representatives of the Nigeria Police “ – Member
(ix) 2 representatives of the State Security
Service “ – Member
(x) 2 representatives of the Nigerian Army “ – Member
(xi) 2 representatives of the Nigeria Union
of Journalists (NUJ) “ – Member
(xii) 1 Representative of the Federal Ministry of
Information (who shall be the Committees’
Spokesperson) – Member
(xiii) 1 Representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice – Member
(xiv) 3 Representatives of Borno State Government
(two of whom, preferably, shall be women) – Member
(xv) 1 Representative of the United Nations – Member
(xvi) 1 Representative of ECOWAS (who shall be a woman) – Member
(xvii) Permanent Secretary (Special Services Office) OSGF – Secretary
The Committee will be inaugurated at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday, 6th May, 2014 by 12 noon.
“The President also shares in the pain and anguish of the parents and guardians of the Chibok girls abducted by the terrorists. The President’s heart goes out to these our unfortunate daughters who have had to endure the trauma of abduction and separation from their loved ones. The government and people of Nigeria stand solidly by them” Maku said.
“The President further appeals to the parents, guardians, relations and members of the public to furnish security agencies with all the information that will assist in the rescue of the girls” the minister said, adding that government also appreciates the public outpouring of support and the sentiment expressed so far by all Nigerians, including civil society groups who have come out to condemn the abduction of the girls and terrorism in the country.
“Government strongly believes that the people of Nigeria, standing together, will overcome the current security challenges.
“The President has directed that the security agencies should intensify efforts to rescue the Chibok girls. The President assures Nigerians that ‘wherever the girls are in the world, we will get them back, apprehend and punish the culprits’.”