Girls: Cameroon, Chad to block Boko Haram routes
•Negotiation still possible, says govt
To facilitate the rescue of the over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Cameroon and Chad may have agreed to block routes in their territories used by Boko Haram, it was learnt yesterday.
Some of the routes, top security sources told The Nation, have been identified.
If the routes are blocked, the sect will be confined to its camps in Nigeria.
A military source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent last night, said all those involved in the planned rescue of the girls have been holding strategy meetings.
The source said: “The pre-rescue plans have reached advanced stage and very soon, we expect tangible results.
“Cameroon and Chad troops have identified some camps and movement routes of Boko Haram. They want to block these routes in order to restrict the sect operations to Nigeria.
“With the blockade, Nigerian troops with neighboring countries’ forces and the foreign counterparts can move in to rescue the girls wherever they are located.
“We have located where the girls are but the priority now is to see the best way to get these girls out without casualties.
“We are strategising on how to ensure a successful rescue operation.”
The Federal Government also spoke on ongoing efforts to get back the girls, saying it has not foreclosed negotiation with Boko Haram.
Coordinator of the National Information Centre Mike Omeri told reports in Abuja that all options, including negotiation, were on the cards on rescuing the girls.
Giving an update on security operations in the Northeast, where Boko Haram is on the rampage, Omeri said.
He did not state the negotiation steps taken by the government.
Last Sunday the London’s Mail on Sunday reported that an Australian, Dr. Stephen Davis, as been hired by the government to negotiate with Boko Haram on the girls’ release.
The negotiator, who is a friend of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who visited President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja yesterday, told the newspaper that the girls were being kept in Chad, Cameron and Niger.
He advised against urging force to rescue the girls to prevent them from coming to harm.
“The Federal Government is totally committed and focused towards ensuring that our beloved children, kidnapped girls, are returned safe and sound.
“Therefore, as we said before, all options in line with international best practices are open in this case,’’ Omeri said.
Omeri said the Federal Government had begun the distribution of relief materials to communities affected by the insurgency in the Northeast and Jos, the Plateau State, while scores died in an explosion about two weeks ago, through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
According to him, efforts are ongoing to reach victims also affected by the insurgency in other states.
Omeri called for help from the public, individuals and corporate organisations, for the victims.
Also yesterday, a coordinator of BringBackOurGirls campaign, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, yesterday said the campaigners were never busy bodies.
She said no smear campaign would deter the protesters.
Ezekwesili said: “Our character and not reputation is what we were brought up to cherish and build. Nothing the authors of falsehood do touches one’s character.
“The Federal Government’s failure so far to rescue our Chibok girls is the consequence of the systemic indifference that followed the news of their abduction.
“Until the Federal Government owns up to the truth of their nearly three weeks of neglect of our Chibok girls, it makes it harder for citizens to believe their efforts.
“Experts say that proactive steps taken within the first 24 hours of abduction increase the probability of rescue. After five days, it is harder.
“For the sake of the Chibok girls, one pleads that embracing the truth, no matter how hard it is, will help the Federal Government to BringBackOurGirls.
On the allegation that the campaigners had been crying more than the bereaved, the former Vice President of the World Bank said those saying so were ignorant.
She added: “Some say we cry more than the bereaved. Well, what do they know? If only they have seen or heard as I have some of the mums and dads of the girls.
“So, those of you that have voice, never cease to use it for the Chibok girls. They need you and I keep demanding BringBackOurGirls.”
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