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Published On: Wed, Jul 23rd, 2014

What we told Jonathan – Chibok elders

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Chibok eldersBy Aminu Imam with agency report

A day after fifty-one of the Chibok girls who escaped from the Boko Haram abductors in Borno state were brought to the Presidential Villa alongside the parents and guardians of those still held in the camp of the insurgents to meet with President Jonathan, revelations of what transpired during the meeting has emerged.

Speaking on what transpired during their closed-door meeting with the president, one of the Chibok community elders, Mr. Ayuba Alonson, whose sister is part of the abducted school girls still held by the insurgents, told the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), revealed that, among several issues that was discussed at the meeting, they told the president that, amidst the widespread insinuation in many quarters that the school girls were never abducted in the first place, their presence at the Presidential Villa and seeing him face-to-face and hear their sorrow and grievances amidst tears from many that spoke during the occasion confirmed to him beyond reasonable doubt that the school girls have indeed been abducted.

“The President himself attested to the fact that he now truly believes that the school girls were indeed abducted”, he stated.

“Among the grievances we expressed to the president, we called on him to intensify efforts and do all that is within his power and resources to rescue and brick back alive the girls that were still held captive by the insurgents for almost a hundred days now, and nobody knows their condition at the moment”, he further stated.

On the outcome of the meeting with the president, he said President Jonathan assured the parents and relatives of the abducted girls that the girls would soon be rescued.

“Some of the school girls during the meeting with the president lamented that that their schools have been burnt down and destroyed by the insurgents at the time of their abduction and expressed their desire to resume their academic pursuits”, he further stated, adding that “the President showed sympathy and understanding of their plight and assured them that their educational pursuits would be taken care of; he even expressed the hope that at the end of their education, some of them may become ministers of the nation one day. He also assured that the Federal Government to improve the welfare of the military to enable them confront Boko Haram effectively.

When asked whether the president has offered any form of welfare package for the girls, he said, “As a matter of fact, the president did not promise or offer any welfare package for the girls; he only assured that Government would do all that is necessary to rescue and brick the girls back alive.

He also stated that the girls also complained to the president that the security situation should be improved because of the general insecurity bedeviling the region, most of their people have migrated or relocated to other neighbouring towns outside of the state and even the country, saying, “The president assured the girls that the security situation would be beefed-up and that more security operatives would be deployed to the region to ensure their safety.

On why it took so long before the meeting with the president was able to meet with them, he said they did not feel slighted that the president’s failure to meet them earlier than now, saying, as the president of the nation and thus the chief mourner of the nation they felt it was compelling reason enough for them to come and see the president himself.

Another elder, Dr. Kogu Bitrus, representing the Association of Chibok community in Nigeria, named KADA, who spoke on the outcome of the meeting with the president also said President Jonathan assured the parents and relatives of the abducted girls that the girls would soon be rescued.

He said the president was reminded on the Ugandan example whereby some abducted persons were released through negotiation, adding that the president assured that the government was still in ‘talks’ and trying to find a way of peacefully resolving the crisis.

Fifty-one of the girls who escaped from their abductors were brought to the Presidential Villa earlier alongside the parents of those still in the camp of the Boko Haram.

The meeting was held under tight security and not even the State House correspondents were allowed to cover the closed-door meeting.

 

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