The Oby Ezekwesili-led advocacy group, Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, appears spoiled for a fight with Nigeria’s army chief, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai over comments he made which the group says amounted to “endorsing such slanderous attacks against our Movement”.
In a letter to Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s information minister, Bring Back Our Girls said that they would only nominate members of the group to join the government on a tour of Sambisa Forest on the condition that there would be a pre-tour meeting where “crucial issued would be discussed“.
The federal government had written to BBOG asked for the group to nominate three its members to join the planned tour of the headquarters of Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist group that kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls from their school dormitory in Chibok, Borno State.
The group also demanded an apology from General Buratai over the comments that addressed the group as
BBOG also demanded an apology from Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff, for supporting remarks that referred to their work as “advocacy terrorism”.
The letter is reproduced below:
We write to thank you and acknowledge your letter on the above subject, dated January 11, 2017 which we received by email transmission yesterday, January 12, 2017. We had an emergency meeting of our Movement to discuss your invitation to embark on a “guided tour” of the Nigerian Air Force Command (Yola) and Sambisa Forest with officials of the government.
Our members unanimously agreed that the Movement is open to exploring the opportunity for a visit to the North-East theatre of war as presented in your invitation. However, before proceeding with further discussions on the proposed visit, we propose a pre-tour meeting to discuss pertinent issues that will help inform our decision to proceed.
We believe that this prior meeting would help provide first-hand knowledge of, and answers to questions that our movement wishes to raise ahead of the guided visit.
We propose that participants at the meeting be the National Security Adviser to the President and the other officials of government indicated in your letter. These are: 1. The Minister of Defence, 2. The Chief of Army Staff, and 3. The Chief of Air Forces. Furthermore, we wish to raise a matter critical to our proposed meeting. Only two days ago, the Federal Government owned News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) widely reported, through the mass media, that during a visit to the Army Headquarters by a certain group which was received by the Chief of Army Staff, our Movement was attacked for engaging in “social advocacy terrorism.”
It is puzzling that the reported said visit happened less than forty-eight hours before our Movement received your letter asking us to travel in the company of the same Chief of Army Staff to Sambisa Forest.
We demand therefore that ahead of the pre-tour meeting we have proposed herein, that the Chief of Army Staff retracts and apologizes for endorsing such slanderous attacks against our Movement #BringBackOurGirls and specifically at some of our leaders.
Such a step would communicate that it is with goodwill that the Federal Government is asking us to entertain the visit proposed in your letter. For 990 days, our Movement has singularly advocated for the return of our Chibok daughters who were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram during an insurgency that has raged in North-Eastern Nigeria for over eight years. For nearly three years, our movement has demonstrated the utmost decorum and civility by ensuring that our advocacy follows due process and upholds the core values that we developed early on in our campaign.
We assure you that we shall remain on the path of our core values of Hope, Unity, Motivation, Affability, Nationalism, Integrity, Transparency, Empathy, Equity, Discipline, and Sacrifice. We are available to attend the pre-tour meeting we have proposed as soon as we receive a date from you.
We look forward to receiving your reply at your earliest convenience to enable us adequately plan for our members that will attend the pre-tour meeting with you and your designated colleagues.