Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) convener, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has blasted President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Information minister, Lai Mohammed for giving “contradicting” information over the whereabouts of the over 200 girls Chibok school girls in Boko Haram captivity since 2014.
Ezekwesili who spoke at a press conference as BBOG marked 900 days of Chibok girls’ kidnap on Friday September 30 said:
“Two weeks ago, on 16 September 2016, the Nigerian government, speaking through the Minister of Information, gave an update on its efforts to rescue our missing girls, after a long period of silence. That update, covering activities between July 2015 and December 2015, was the first time ever that a degree of specificity about efforts to rescue the girls was provided by government since their abduction over twenty nine months ago.
“The substance of the update was material enough to merit our movement’s deep interrogation of what the federal government presented to the public as facts and to weigh their consistency with other statements it had previously made on the fate of our Chibok girls.
“We noted that the detailed account presented by the Minister of Information revealed activities related to rescue effort only up to December 2015. It is thus curious that there was no activity reported for the entire nearly nine months of 2016. So the question is; what was the federal government doing concerning the rescue of Chibok girls in the last nine months and why was nothing of that period captured in the Minister’s account?
“Our analysis also found at least five (5) confirmed or inferred instances of Presidential briefings and approvals for negotiation between officials of the Federal Government and the terrorists. We captured these very significant approvals of the president in the infographics that accompany this statement of our movement. We consider the fact of these Presidential approvals weighty material evidence that call to question the President’s many public statements that ‘his government does not have credible intelligence on the group holding the girls captive.’
“Our position is founded especially on the following excerpt from the Minister of Information’s September16, 2016 statement which reads: ‘By the third week of July 2015, a contact group was in touch with credible assets who had the reach, and who attested to the fact that some of the Chibok girls were alive. Mr. President was then briefed of these assets and intelligence and he gave his assent for further negotiations on the Chibok girls. Precisely on 17th July, 2015, the DSS opened negotiations process with the group holding the Chibok girls. However, in return for the release of some of these girls, the group also made some demands.’
“Based on this very obvious contradiction, who then should parents, Chibok Community, our Movement and the Nigerian and global public that are extremely anxious about the rescue of the 218 young women believe?
“Should we believe the President who says that government has not established contact with the ‘credible group holding the girls’? Or should we believe the minister of information whose September 16, 2016 account to the public, explicitly stated that the federal government has through the Department for State Security, ‘opened negotiation with the group holding the Chibok girls’ since July 17, 2015? Who should we believe?”