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Published On: Mon, Jun 23rd, 2014

Chibok girls: Jonathan, now that you know the truth, free them

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Jonathan under pressureThe press was awash last Saturday with the photo of President Goodluck Jonathan, all smiles, while receiving the report of the panel he set up to investigate the abduction of the over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok by Boko Haram members in April. The president was in an apparent joyous mood perhaps for a job well done by the committee. But going by what its chairman said of the report, there is very little for the president to be happy about. If anything, the report should have embarrassed the president and his team who have long lived in denial of the sad event that occurred on the night of 14th April.

President Jonathan himself, his wife and a senior member of his party, Kema Chikwe and many other government apologists, have held the view that the abduction was a ruse and a ploy by the opposition to destabilise his government. That informed the non-challant response to the issue by the presidency and its security agencies. That may also explain why the president has refused to visit Chibok to commiserate with families of the victims.

However, while submitting the report of his committee, Brigadier General Ibrahim Sabo (rtd), said: “As most Nigerians already know, there were some persons who doubted whether, in fact, any student was abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok.

“On the other hand, for those who believed that there was abduction, there were lingering doubts as to how such a number of kidnapped victims were conveyed, considering also that information was sparse as to how the raiding insurgents evacuated the victims”, he added.

In an obvious reference to doubters like the president himself, the chairman added: “Mr. President, the committee here wishes to lay to rest any residual doubt whether or not any student was abducted at Chibok. There was mass abduction on the night of 14th April, 2014.

“During the siege on the school, 119 students escaped from the school premises, before the insurgents took away their classmates. A total number of 276 students were, thus, abducted.

“As of today, 57 of the abducted students have been reunited with their families after escaping along the zig-zag transport route taken by the insurgents, or by bolting to safety when the insurgents lay by for a rest. Sadly, 219 students remain unaccounted for”, he stressed.

Now that the president has received what he may regard as first hand information about the abduction, we hope he will not waste any more time swinging into action as late in the day as that may seem. While he was all ears smiling last Friday the girls and their parents did not have the same luxury. This saga has become a huge embarrassment to the nation and the tragedy of it is further accentuated by the fact that we have to wait for over two months for our president to believe it even happened after receiving a needless and belated report of a committee that all agree was a waste of time when time was the one thing we do not have in this matter.

In truth, the committee did not reveal anything new that we did not know or that would have had any impact on the course of action as regards the rescue of the girls. If it achieved anything then it must have been that it massaged the ego of an incompetent president who wants to be seen to be doing something. Well, now that that ego has been sufficiently massaged, we urge him to get to work and BringBackOurGirls.

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