Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has given reasons Leah Sharibu, who was abducted on February 19, 2018, by the Boko Haram, has not been released.
He also raised fresh hopes that Miss Sharibu would soon be freed to rejoin her family.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who disclosed this in a statement, said that the interlocutors engaged in the release of Miss Sharibu have given encouraging progress report on her.
“The report reaching us says her return to her family has unfortunately been hindered by the fear of the militants.
“They worry that heavy military presence in areas where they previously moved about freely could affect their safety after they return her to the government.
“At the same time, the military cannot jeopardise the security of the entire North-eastern region by halting their operations to accommodate Boko Haram’s fears.
“Leah Sharibu will be reunited with her family as soon as conclusions are reached on a number of options being considered for her safe transportation,” the president said.
The president, who spoke in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the abduction of girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, was optimistic that the girls would still return. He assured the parents and guardians of the missing girls that he has “still not forgotten their daughters who were kidnapped from their dormitory five years ago (April 14, 2014).”
He reminded them of the promise he made when he met them, at the beginning of his first term as president, that he would bring their daughters home. The president noted that he was aware that his promise was the main reason the people of Chibok voted overwhelmingly for him in the February elections. He said that although his government has so far succeeded in bringing back 107 of the girls, he would not rest until the remaining girls are reunited with their families, assuring the parents that his administration was still on the matter.
According to Buhari, “Diverse efforts are being intensified to secure the release of the Chibok girls, along with all hostages in Boko Haram captivity, including Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped from her school, Science Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018.” The President said that the success recorded by the Nigerian military in subduing Boko Haram was evident by the large numbers of militants who have surrendered recently, especially in neighbouring Cameroon and Niger. “A similar mass surrender of militants is expected to happen soon in Nigeria. While Nigerian military operations are ongoing, the government is also engaging with the militants, but the talks have been affected by the factionalisation of Boko Haram – with one group adopting a hard line attitude and intensifying attacks on Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and another group engaging with the government for peaceful resolution,” he said. He also used the occasion of the commemoration of the Chibok tragedy to commend the girls, now women, who have triumphed over it all.
He also hailed the 106 girls sponsored by the Nigerian government to continue their studies at the American University of Nigeria, Yola.
He encouraged them to stay focused on becoming women who would inspire girls in Nigeria and around the world to triumph over the daily battles they face in a world that is often unfair to the girl-child.
He congratulated Kauna Yaga Bitrus, who has excelled beyond expectations in her college in Maine, USA, and who will soon receive a special ‘Against All Odds Award’ from her school.