Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has access to President Goodluck Jonathan to make inputs towards rescuing the schoolgirls taken captive by Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School in Chibok on April 14, the Federal Government has said.
The Chairman, National Information Centre, Mr. Mike Omeri, stated this while answering questions from journalists on Obasanjo’s claim that he could help resolve issues with members of the terrorist group.
Obasanjo had, in a BBC Hausa service on Thursday, said he could help reach out to the insurgents for the release of the girls, but regretted that the Federal Government had not yet given him the green light to act.
Omeri said it was not proper for him to join issues with Obasanjo, but added that as a former President, he had the opportunity to make inputs into governance.
Omeri said the purported abduction of 20 Fulani women near Chibok was doubtful as troops had claimed that no such report had been received.
He said, “It has been confirmed that there is no police report to the effect that Fulani women have been abducted.
“This story may likely be part of the general misinformation being peddled to create the impression that the insurgents are inaccessible.
“We wish to announce that surveillance and patrols by land and air activities of troops are still on-going in the entire mission area of the North-East and other parts of the federation to curtail the activities of terrorists and armed groups.
“There have been occasional encounters necessitating continuous cordon and search in many locations. In the same vein, consultations and contacts are still on-going with partners who have offered to support Nigeria’s endeavours to resolve the issues on the abduction of the Chibok girls as well as terrorism generally.”
Against this background, he added that the Nigerian military had been discussing with its counterpart from Sri Lanka in addition to other countries.
Omeri added that as part of government’s commitment towards ensuring adequate security of schools, a workshop for security awareness for public and private schools had been scheduled for Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja.
Meanwhile, a group, Muslim Rights Concern, had urged President Jonathan to give Obasanjo the go-ahead to secure the release of abducted Chibok girls.
The group, in a statement issued on Friday by its Director, Prof. Isaq Akintola, said that the primary responsibility of a government was the protection of lives and property.
The group said, “MURIC urges President Jonathan to expedite action on the matter now before it is too late. The Federal Government should be happy that it is an ex-president of Nigeria who has seized this initiative and not any of the former presidents of the United States or an ex-Prime Minister of Britain. It remains the pride of Nigeria if we are able to resolve this kidnap saga in-house. It will also be the pride of the African continent.”
Obasanjo had on Thursday in an interview with Hausa service of BBC, said that he could reach out to the violent Boko Haram sect over the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by the sect.
He, however, regretted that the Federal Government had yet to give him the go-ahead.
MURIC said, “We consider this development as light at the end of the tunnel. We are however astonished that the Federal Government is yet to come to fully comprehend the far-reaching implications of the Chibok girls imbroglio. Time is running out fast.
“We remind the Federal Government that the primary responsibility of governments is the protection of lives and properties. The buck stops at the table of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.”