President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the service chiefs to intensify efforts towards rescuing all the abducted schoolgirls of Chibok, Borno State.
Jonathan gave the directive at the Presidential Villa in Abuja today during a high-level meeting convened to review the security situation in the country.
The meeting, which lasted for about seven hours, was in the wake of Thursday’s bombing at Nyanya, Abuja and the kidnapping by suspected terrorists, of over 200 girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 15.
Briefing State House journalists after the meeting, Information Minister Labaran Maku said the meeting received updates on the second Nyanya bombing, the ongoing search for the Chibok girls and efforts made so far to deal with related incidents of insecurity and terrorism in the country.
The minister stressed that during the closed door meeting, the president had directed the security agencies to intensify efforts to rescue the abducted girls.
According to him, Jonathan assures Nigerians that “wherever the girls are in the world, we will get them back, apprehend and punish the culprits”.
He said in view of the inconsistent and contradictory information available to the government on the girls’ abduction, the president had set up a fact-finding committee comprising security agencies, civil society, international organisations and other stakeholders.
The minister, however, said the terms of reference and the membership of the committee would be made available to the public at a later date.
“On the unfortunate kidnap of the Chibok girls, the security chiefs briefed the meeting on efforts so far made to locate and rescue the girls, and bring the perpetrators to justice. Extensive and intensive aerial surveillance by the Air Force has been carried out in all the routes leading into and out of Chibok up to the Chad and Cameroun borders. Other parts of Borno and Adamawa states are also under the searchlight. Every information relayed to security agencies has so far been investigated, including the search of all places suspected as a possible hide-away of the kidnapped girls”, he said.
Maku noted that the police, backed up by the military and the Department of State Security, had combed and were still combing all reported places that the girls might have been taken to.
He said Jonathan also shared in the pain and anguish of the parents and guardians of the abducted girls, adding that “The president’s heart goes out to these our unfortunate daughters who have had to endure the trauma of abduction and separation from their loved ones.
The government and people of Nigeria stand solidly by them”.
He said the president further appealed to the girls’ parents, guardians and relations as well as members of the public to furnish security agencies with all the information that would assist in the rescue of the girls.
He said the government also appreciated the public outpouring of support and the sentiment expressed so far by all Nigerians, including civil society groups who had come out to condemn the abduction of the girls and terrorism in the country.
The minister maintained that the government strongly believed that Nigerians, standing together, would overcome the current security challenges.
On the latest bomb explosion at Nyanya, Maku said the president directed security chiefs to increase surveillance and expedite investigation into the explosion to ensure that perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice.
He said Jonathan also gave instructions for additional proactive measures by security agencies to enhance public safety including increased public awareness for citizens to step up their cooperation with security agencies by reporting suspected activities and persons likely to cause a breach of public peace, safety and security.
According to him, the president commiserates with the families of the deceased in the latest bombing at Nyanya and empathises with the injured.
The minister said the president had also directed full medical treatment for the victims at the expense of the government.
Maku added that the forthcoming World Economic Forum, Abuja, would hold as scheduled, saying that the government would not allow terrorists to stop its activities.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Defence Minister General Aliyu Gusau (rtd), National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki, Chief of Defense Staff Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, Chief of Army Staff Lt General Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall Ademola Amosu, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, Inspector- General of Police Mohammed Abubakar and Director-General of State Security Service Ita Ekpeyong.
Also in attendance were Minister of State for FCT Jumole Akinjide, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Interior Minister Abba Moro as well as Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga.