Abducted girls still within Nigeria —Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan believes the 276 secondary school girls abducted in Chibok, Borno State are still within the country and possibly in the Sambisa Forest.
He is not persuaded by speculations that they may have been moved out of the country.
Fielding questions from reporters at the end of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Abuja yesterday, President Jonathan also dismissed suggestions that his government was slow in responding to the abduction crisis.
He said: ”The attackers are in a part of Borno State described as Sambisa Forest. It is a forest area and we are working with the experts that will use remote sensor to see that wherever they are we will see,” he said.
“So, the best we can say is that they are within the Sambisa forest area. Of course, I agree that there are stories that they have been moved outside the country. But if they move that number of girls to Cameroon, people will see. So I believe that they are still within Nigeria.”
He thanked all the countries assisting Nigeria in searching for the girls.
He said that with the massive support the country is receiving from the international community, Boko Haram will have no choice but to “bring back our girls; and there is no where they will take these girls to.
“They have no hiding place. We must work with the global community that is quite keen to make sure that we bring back these girls.”
He pleaded with the parents of the girls to continue to exercise patience and that he himself as a father and the President of Nigeria feels pained and doesn’t sleep ”with my two eyes closed and will not sleep” until the girls rejoin their families.
Defending government’s handling of the situation, especially what is generally criticised as government’s slow response, he declared: “There is no slow response at all.”
“ No, no, it is a misconception. The response is not slow. I have explained this. Borno State can be described as the headquarters of the terrorists, Boko Haram.
“They are more in Borno State, then followed by Yobe and then Adamawa. These are the three states in which we have declared state of emergency already.”
“So they have military personnel in those states. Immediately this happened, they have been following it, both the army and the airforce, they have been combing everywhere. The only thing we did not do, because we felt it was not necessary then, was to video the aircraft moving, the military people moving and the fighter helicopters.
“We did not do the video to show because the people were on ground because of the state of emergency because of these terrorists. That is why people thought it was slow, no it was not. We started work immediately. It was not slow, the Nigerian government responded immediately. If somebody gives you the impression that government is slow, that is not correct.”
On whether there could be a political solution to Boko Haram, President Jonathan maintained that there is an element of politics in terror but that it is complex and beyond poverty.
He said: “Yes, political solution is there, some elements of politics is there. But terror all over the world is beyond economic.”
He likened Boko Haram to other terrorists group, saying: “Boko Haram is a terror group. As a journalist you know much more on terror than I do. When Al-Qeada started, most people did not know the dimension until the 9/11 in the US. That was when the whole world knew that terror could be very very devastating.”
He also said that a lot of the suspected brains behind the recent bomb explosions at Nyanya, near Abuja have been arrested.
Jonathan also thanked the participants who defied the terror threats to attend the World Economic Forum on Africa.
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