We Don’t Know Where The Abducted Girls Are – Jonathan
Almost three weeks after over 200 schoolgirls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, President Goodluck Jonathan has said the Federal Government does not know their whereabouts.
Jonathan said this on Sunday during the Presidential Media Chat in Abuja.
He also spoke on the probe of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison- Madueke, over the N10bn she allegedly spent on a chartered jet, the security measures in place for the World Economic Forum, the power sector reforms and the 2015 elections.
Asked if there was any confirmed information about where the kidnapped schoolgirls are, Jonathan replied, “None; there is none.”
The President, who said that security operatives were currently engaged in a massive search for the girls, explained that information so far provided to security operatives yielded nothing.
He said, “All the information that have been volunteered to us (about their location, we’ve used) and we have searched the places. We are using aircraft – helicopters and planes – that have the ability to scan and see what is on the surface. And we have scanned, but we have nothing.”
Jonathan added that the government was not negotiating with Boko Haram or any group regarding the release of the girls.
He said, “You can’t negotiate with somebody you don’t know; nobody has claimed knowledge of the abduction. Even on the social media that the Boko Haram uses to show what they have done…. As regards these girls, we have not seen such. Even the spokesperson for Boko Haram has not come to tell Nigerians that they did the kidnapping. So, the issue of negotiation has not come up.”
The President, however, assured Nigerians that the government would get the girls back with the support of their parents and guardians. This, he said, was because the Police did not have records of the missing girls.
Jonathan said, “We actually request maximum cooperation from the guardians and the parents of these girls because up till this time, they have not been able to come and give the Police clear identity of the girls that have yet to return.
“We are pleading that they should cooperate with the government. We need the identity of these girls and wherever they are, we are talking to all the neighbouring countries – Cameroon, Chad and Benin Republic, as well as some countries in North Africa – so that wherever they take these girls, we will get them back if we get the maximum cooperation of the parents and guardians.”
Regardless of the challenges being faced in a bid to rescue the girls, Jonathan said it would not end up being another unsolved mystery.
He said the government was looking beyond rumours, adding that since it appeared the girls had been taken out of the country, a team was being sent to look closely at other nations.
The President said while government was exploring several options to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency, it would not adopt the same approach used to resolve the Niger-Delta crisis.
This, he said, was because, unlike Boko Haram, the “Niger Delta militants were not terrorists.”
He said, “The Niger Delta militants approach was quite different from that of the terrorists. The Niger Delta militants were not terrorists. I am not trying to defend them because I am from there.
“Even when I was a Deputy Governor and a Governor, the then President (Olusegun) Obasanjo sometimes sent for us. And some of the leaders of those boys (militants) used to come. You were hearing that they were agitators in the Niger-Delta and somebody like Asari (Dokubo) that is well known, I saw him for the first time in the State House when I came for a meeting with Chief Obasanjo. So, they had a reason for their agitation.”
Jonathan denied knowledge of the suit filed by Alison-Madueke seeking to stop the House from probing her but accused the members of playing politics.
He said, “I am not aware that the Minister went to court to stop any investigation. And on the issue of the House, there are a lot of issues that have been sorted out and there are issues that are not clear. The minister has appeared before the parliament more than 200 times.
“In fact, some of my ministers attended 25 per cent of the sittings in parliament. No country can progress when a minister spends most of the time appearing before the parliament.
“The minister of petroleum has not gone to court to stop them.
“The information we have is that some organisations have questioned the rationale for the probe . But what I want you to know is that the parliament is made up of politicians. And if you have been following the issue especially in the House, you will know that there is more than politics than work.”
The President asked the House to rid itself of what he described as “parliamentary dictatorship”
“There is no human being on earth that has not made mistakes. Presidents all over the world are being attacked from the strongest country to the weakest country. But you cannot satisfy everybody. People come after you from different angles. Some people will just set up a magazine or newspaper because they want to face one human being,” he claimed.
“I am not trying to protect anybody. Some people talk about jet or no jet. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources is one ministry that because of its activities people pay attention to it.
“The arrangement they have now whether it is costlier than what they used to have, we will find out. We are looking into it. But when somebody wakes up and says the ministry of petroleum is making use of a jet, the ministry of petroleum has always been using jets. Some government functionaries, you can go to the parliament, they have their own. Whether they hire or not, I don’t know. Only the judiciary is always mindful of what they do.”
He also spoke on emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states, saying it had been effective in the war against terrorists in the North-East.
Jonathan added, “The state of emergency is effective. Some Nigerians think that when you declare a state of emergency, the political institutions must collapse; the governor will leave, the state assembly will be dissolved, local government chairmen and councillors will leave. That is their own interpretation and as long as those people are there, they feel that the state of emergency is not complete and is ineffective.
“One of the key reasons why we declared state of emergency was to ensure that security operatives had some privileges and to avoid litigation.
“Terrorism is not a phenomenon that a state of emergency of one month, six months and one year will solve; except occasional terror.
“We are consulting the security and relevant people and when we need to extend, we will extend it (state of emergency) because I believe that we are succeeding.”
Meanwhile, the Principal of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, Hajiya Asabe Kwabura, was in the early hours of Sunday arrested and quizzed at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja in connection with the girls kidnapped in her school on April 14.
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