Editor’s note: Days have turned into weeks for the more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted in Nigeria last month. As reported in this excerpt from The Vanguard newspaper, government officials have admitted to not knowing the girls’ exact location, and hopes that they will be returned home soon are beginning to diminish.
Calling on parents and guardians of the abducted school girls to provide useful information that will assist security personnel [in finding] the girls, [Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan] said: “On the school girls that were kidnapped, it is getting up to three weeks now, one thing that we know is that from April 24, the security personnel have been searching everywhere. They know that this thing happened in Borno State, and Borno State is where we have the highest number of the terrorists called Boko Haram. If this thing had happened in another state and security personnel were moved, the whole world would have seen a lot of mobilization. Security personnel are already on ground. All the information given to us, we have searched the places, we have used helicopter to search the surfaces.”
Speaking further, he said: “We promise that wherever these girls are, we will surely get them out. The good thing is that there is no story that any of the girls have been hurt, injured or dead. I really sympathize with the parents and guardians of these girls. We are all fathers and mothers. Let us reassure them that we will get their daughters. I recently held a security meeting with the service chiefs and I also sent for the governor of Borno State, who came with the Commissioner for Education and the principal of the school and we had some useful discussion with them.
“We believe that wherever these girls are, we will get them out. What we request is maximum cooperation from the parents and the guardians of these girls. Up till this time, they have not been able to come out clearly to give the police the identity of the girls that are to return. The police have records of 44 of them, while the principal mentioned to me on Saturday night that 53 have returned but the police have record of 44. I recently set up a committee to go to Borno State, we will provide the security.
“We are pleading that the parents should cooperate with government, we will need the identities, including their photographs. We are also talking to neighboring countries so that wherever they take those girls to, we will surely get them back if we get the maximum cooperation from the parents and guardians. Let me reassure Nigerians that we will get the girls out, we appreciate the concern shown by Nigerians and globally. We see what they are doing in terms of protest, which is quite healthy.”
The president also disclosed that more than 80% of the abducted girls are Christians.
No negotiation on-going
Asked if the authorities were negotiating with the abductors, he said:
“You cannot negotiate with somebody you do not know. Nobody has claimed ownership of this abduction. As regards these girls, I do not know, you are journalists, you should know more than me because I do not have time to go to the social media. You cannot negotiate with terrorists and even the Boko Haram has not come to say ‘we did the kidnapping’ and so, the issue of negotiations has not come up.”
Read more at The Vanguard.