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Bring Back Our Girls Group Meets Chadian Ambassador, Demands Chibok Girls’ Rescue
Adedayo Ogunleye, Abuja
The Bring Back our Girls Group has renewed its call for the rescue and the safe return of the kidnapped Chibok girls.
The group yesterday reiterated this call when its members took their demands for justice and prompt rescue of the abducted Chibok girls to the Chadian Embassy in Abuja, brandishing banners and posters demanding that the Chadian government explain its role in the protracted insurgency ravaging the North east, while also asking that it respond to reports that a close ally of the Chadian President had been apprehended in Cameroon while trafficking arms for Boko Haram.
Attempts to meet with the Chadian ambassador were at first rebuffed as armed mobile policemen stood guard at the embassy gates, while a representative named Mohammed, who identified himself as the deputy ambassador, urged the group to disperse assuring that the embassy would get back to them.
Their demands were later met, as the embassy officials yielded and requested that five members of the group be selected to meet with the ambassador.
After meeting the ambassador, Aisha Yesufa, one of the leaders of the group, briefed newsmen and other members of the group on the outcome of the meeting.
She said that the group’s mission at the embassy was to make inquiries about the involvement of the Chadian Government in the botched ceasefire with the Boko Haram.
Below is an excerpt from the transcript of the meeting with the ambassador:
Q: On October 17th, the Nigerian Government announced a ceasefire agreement with Boko Haram. The Chadian Government as well did the same and assured the world that the abducted girls will be released around the 27th of that same month. It never came to be. What really happened and to what extent was the Chadian government involved in the alleged Failed Ceasefire Agreement?
A: I don’t know anything about the ceasefire. I only read it in the pages of the Newspaper and watched it on the News. If the Chadian government had engaged in it then must be due to the fact that they were expecting it to be successful.
Q: What role is the Chadian government presently playing towards the fight against Boko Haram? Does the Chadian government or any member of the government have any relationship with the Boko Haram?
A: I don’t not think that any Chadian National is a part of the Boko Haram. Nigerian security agencies should bring proof of any Chadian national who is involved. No Nigerian authority has alerted us of the involvement of any Chadian national in Boko Haram. We were present in the Paris meeting and we have also had several meetings in Nigeria on security with the Nigerian government.
Q: Since vulnerable youths from the country are also allegedly being brainwashed into joining the insurgents, how is the Chadian government working to dissuade its citizens from joining Boko Haram?
A: Islam in Chad is different from Islam in Nigeria. In Chad, Muslims and Christians have learnt to live together in harmony, so it is not expected that any Chadian would take part in the insurgency.
Q: Few years ago in Nigeria nobody would have thought insurgency would be part of Nigeria’s history. Don’t you think it is a good idea to be proactive and take counter measures?
A: It can’t happen; such cannot happen in Chad.
Q: Where are our Chibok Girls? Unconfirmed reports allege that some were broken into groups in Chad. What does the Chadian government know about the operations to rescue our two hundred and nineteen Chibok girls? Are any efforts being deployed within Chad to look for them?
A: The Chadian government never claimed to know where the girls are. It was the Nigerian government that said they knew where the girls are. You should go and ask the Nigerian government for the girls.
Q: How has the Chadian government improved security along its borders with Nigeria to put an end to arms smuggling and alleged mercenary crossings? What is the Chadian government doing to ensure that arms from Libya, Sudan and the Central Afrrican Republic are not reaching Boko Haram?
A: We have a joint task force with Sudan and we are controlling the borders. We have no land border with Nigeria. We check everybody coming in and going out at our borders. Our gendarmeries conduct constant patrols and they also carry out house search.
Q: As the Chadian representative in Nigeria, information from the Chadian government to the Nigerian government is supposed to pass through you. How come you only read of the ceasefire in the newspapers, and how come no statement came from you?
A: Are you from Mars? We all know the politics of Africa. The government does not share anything with its envoys, and they do what they want.
Yesufa also stated that the Chadian ambassador also advised that they should pass any other questions to the Chadian president through the embassy and that the president would definitely respond to all questions forwarded.
She however described the ambassador’s responses as somewhat evasive and that even though the Chadian ambassador told the group to count his country out of the abduction of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls and the insecurity currently rocking Nigeria, his response to related issues were not satisfactory.
Another leader of the group, Emman Shehu, said that the evasive answers only confirmed the group’s suspicions that the entire ceasefire arrangement was “a scam orchestrated at the highest levels of government” and that it was perpetrated to “give President Jonathan a window of opportunity to make a declaration on his re-election bid.”
Responding to inquiries from our reporter via phone call, Shehu alleged that a huge and undisclosed sum of money was involved in the ceasefire scam.
According to Shehu, without such a fraudulent announcement calculated to lift the hopes of the nation and “buy” Jonathan some goodwill, it would have been difficult for him to make his declaration at a time when the nation’s opinion of his administration was at an “all-time low.”
Two hundred and seventy-six female students were abducted from Federal Government Girls’ Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State on April 14, this year, generating both local and global outcry. Fifty-seven of the girls have escaped so far while the others have remained in captivity for two hundred and thirty-four days.
It is widely believed that the federal government has been largely lethargic in its attempts to rescue the girls and the Bring Back Our Girls group has endeavoured to keep the dilemma of the abducted girls on the front-burner of national issues by way of advocacy and public demonstrations.