The Federal Government on Friday expressed frustration over the inconsistencies in the information available to it on the girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted on April 15.
To this end, President Goodluck Jonathan has set up a fact-finding committee saddled with the responsibility of providing the government with reliable information on the incident.
Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting summoned by the President to review security situation in the country, particularly the latest bombing at Nyanya and the girls’ abduction.
Maku was joined at the briefing by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe; Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba; spokesperson of the State Security Service, Marilyn Ogar and the Director, Defence Information, Chris Olukolade.
The minister said some of the inconsistencies that the government was not pleased with were the number of affected schoolgirls as well as their current location among others.
He however added that the inconsistencies had so far not hampered rescue operations.
He said members of the committee which would be made known soon would include security agencies, civil society organisations, international organisations and other stakeholders.
Maku said during the meeting attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Minister of Defence, Gen. Aliyu Gusau (retd.) service chiefs and heads of security agencies, the President 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.
On the latest bomb explosion in Nyanya, the minister said the President directed security chiefs to increase surveillance and expedite investigation into the explosion to ensure that those behind the act are arrested and brought to justice.
According to him, Jonathan also gave instructions for additional proactive measures by security agencies to enhance public safety.
This, he said, included increased public awareness for citizens to step up their cooperation with security agencies by reporting suspected activities and persons likely to cause a breach of public peace, safety and security.
On the kidnapped girls, the minister said security chiefs briefed the meeting on efforts so far made to locate and rescue them and bring the perpetrators to justice.
He said, “Extensive and intensive aerial surveillance by the Air Force has been carried out in 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.
“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.
“In view of the inconsistent and contradictory information available to government on the Chibok abduction, the President has set up a fact-finding committee comprising security agencies, civil society, international organisations and other stakeholders.
“The President commiserates with the families of the deceased in the latest bombing at Nyanya, and empathises with all those who were injured in the incident. He has also directed full medical treatment for the victims at government expense.
“The President also shares in the pain and anguish of the parents and guardians of the Chibok girls abducted by the terrorists. 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.”
Maku also quoted Jonathan as appealing to the parents, guardians, relations of the girls and members of the public to furnish security agencies with all the information that will assist in their rescue.
He said while government appreciated the public outpouring of support and the sentiment expressed so far by all Nigerians by coming out out to condemn the abduction and terrorism in the country, government believes that Nigerians, 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 culprit,” he added.
The minister said because security agencies are not taking any information on the missing girls for granted, they are currently searching everywhere include Cameroun and Chad among others.
He said although government has so far not sough for direct foreign intervention in its counter-terrorism efforts, there is currently intelligence sharing activities at the level of security agencies.
Maku said government would go ahead with preparations for the World Economic Forum on Africa that will hold in Abuja between from Wednesday to Friday despite the recent bombings in Nyanya.
He assured the international community that measures are being taken to ensure the success of the event.
He said government would not bow to the wishes of terrorism whose main aim, according to him, is to cripple public institution.
The minister argued that in the history of global terrorism, no government has ever shut down.
“War is already here. Terrorism is already here but efforts are being put in place to solve the problem,” he concluded.