Abducted schoolgirls: Presidency raises panel
A fresh effort by the Federal Government to rescue the 223 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State,abducted by Boko Haram,got underway yesterday.
President Goodluck Jonathan raised a 26-man team to mobilize efforts for the rescue operation,24 hours after the Police and the State Security Service (SSS) revealed that a total of 276 girls were actually abducted by the terrorists during the April 15 raid .
The security agencies said 53 of the students have fled from their abductors,leaving 223 in their den.
Heading the panel is a former boss of the Directorate of Military Intelligence,Brigadier General Ibrahim A.Sabo.
Also on the panel are Lagos lawyer,Mr.Femi Falana (SAN), Hajia Hawa Ibrahim; Hajia Fatima Kwaku; two representatives of the ational Council of Women Societies (NCWS); two representatives of the All Nigeria Conference of Principal of Secondary Schools(ANCOPPS)-one of whom shall be a female; two representatives of the National Parents Teachers Association; two representatives of the Nigeria Police; two representatives of the State Security Service; two representatives of the Nigerian Army; two representatives of the Nigeria Union Journalists(NUJ); one representative of the Federal Ministry of. Information (who shall be the Committee’s spokesperson); one representative of the Ministry of Justice; three representatives of Borno State Government two of whom preferably shall be women; one representative of the UN; one representative of ECOWAS (who shall be a woman) and the Permanent Secretary (Special Services Office) OSGF who shall be the Secretary.
It,will,according to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,Chief Pius Anyim, mobilize communities in Chibok and the general public on citizen support for a rescue strategy and operation;
The fact finding committee will also liaise with the Borno State Government and establish the circumstances leading to the School remaining open for boarding students when other schools were closed; liaise with relevant authorities and the parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted; interface with the Security Services and Borno State Government to ascertain how many of the missing girls have returned; and articulate a framework for a multi-stakeholder action for the rescue of the missing girls.
It is also expected to advise Government on any matter incidental to its terms of reference.
The decision to set up the panel was one of the highlights of a high-level meeting of security chiefs in the country with President Jonathan yesterday at the State House.
The meeting evaluated the security situation in the country .
Information Minister Labaran Maku,told reporters that the security chiefs briefed the meeting on efforts so far made to locate and rescue the girls, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Maku,with whom were the Military spokesman, Major General Chris Olukolade, police spokesman, Frank Mba, State Security Service (SSS) spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe,said extensive and intensive aerial surveillance by the Air Force has been carried out on all the routes leading into and out of Chibok up to the Chad and Cameroun borders.
Other parts of Borno and Adamawa states are also under the searchlight,he said.
He added:”Every 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.
“The police, backed up by the military and DSS, have combed and are still combing all reported places that the girls might have been taken to.”
He said much of the information was inconsistent and contradictory,prompting the setting up of the panel.
He said that President Jonathan shares in the pain and anguish of the parents and guardians of the abducted girls.
His words: “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.
“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”. He stated
On the latest Nyanya bomb blast he said: “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.”
“The President directed security chiefs to increase surveillance and expedite investigation into the explosion to ensure that those behind the heinous act are arrested and brought to justice.”
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