I am here in Yobe State today, to express my sincere sympathies with the parents, families, the Government and the entire people of Yobe State whose daughters were callously abducted by unrepentant terrorists.
2. On 19th February, 2018, we woke up to the painful news of the abduction of One Hundred and Ten (110) students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi. Since this ugly incident happened, I have not left any stone unturned in making sure that the girls are rescued.
3. I have ordered the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take direct charge and brief me on a daily basis on the efforts to bring back the girls. Within four (4) days of the incident, the Minister of Information visited Dapchi and the next day, the Minister of Interior who was accompanied by the Minister of Information re-visited the school for on the spot assessment.
4. I have ordered the re-strengthening of a Joint Operational Base involving relevant agencies and Services to coordinate the rescue mission. Consequently, the Service Commanders have not only established a unified Command Centre in Maiduguri, the Military has raised several rescue teams to comb the forests in the North East Theatre of Operation.
5. In addition, the Nigerian Airforce has maintained aerial surveillance of the area. The Federal Government had earlier sent a delegation of senior officials to visit the Governor and the parents of the girls to re-assure them of the measures the government is taking as well as have an on-the-spot-assessment of the incident.
6. Similarly, the Federal Government has set up a 12-member Committee to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the students. The membership of the Committee was drawn from among security agencies and local residents. It is my hope that any agency, person or group found to have been negligent or culpable in the abduction of the girls will be punished in accordance with the law.
7. Furthermore, the government is partnering with the International Community and organizations including our neighbours to ensure that these girls are safely returned. Just recently, I reiterated our resolve to negotiate for the unconditional release of the girls. This is borne out of this administration’s conviction that, doing so is safer devoid of risks and will not endanger the lives of our young girls who are in harm’s way.
8. Since the inception of this administration, we have remained resolute in our fight against Terrorism and Boko Haram insurgents. Nigerians will readily recall that prior to our coming in 2015, the situation was chaotic with violent terrorist attacks being the order of the day.
9. Terrorists had made life very unbearable for the people in Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Borno, Niger, and even the FCT, Abuja. Our Mosques and Churches witnessed daily suicide bomb attacks. Parts of Adamawa and Borno States were helplessly ceded to the terrorists.
10. But today, we have so far shown clear determination in tackling terrorism which is a world -wide phenomenon. We have not only degraded the power and dominance of the criminal elements, our security forces have patriotically exhibited an uncommon zeal in executing their assignment.
11. We explored various strategies including regional and international collaborations to exterminate terror. We have re-equipped our armed forces, security and intelligence Services. They are empowered with improved welfare and better equipment. The outcomes have been good. Our achievement in maintaining security is such that the international community and even our critics commend our modest efforts in this regards.
12. The Federal Government’s response to the unfortunate abduction of the school girls is a clear departure from the insensitivity of the past administration which looked the other way while the Chibok girls were taken away in 2014 and held in captivity for over 3 years. Due to our commitment, over 100 Chibok girls have been rescued and reunited with their families, sent back to school and empowered with requisite skills.
13. You may recall that recently, our negotiation efforts led to the release of abducted University of Maiduguri lecturers, some women Police personnel, students and even an NYSC member. We, therefore, have no doubt that the Dapchi girls will be rescued or released. I can reassure parents, Nigerians and the International Community that we will do all that is within our power to make sure that the girls are brought back safely to their families.
14. I have ordered a 24 hour brief to me by security agencies on its successes or challenges. While expecting the report of the Committee set up to investigate the abduction for implementation, I have asked that appropriate Federal Government authorities be in constant touch with the Yobe State Government and other neighbouring States to ensure a common strategy and line of action.
15. There will be no rest till the last girl, whether from Chibok and Dapchi, is released. The girls, like all our citizens, must enjoy unhindered freedom and pursue their legitimate aspirations.
16. The Dapchi and Chibok students are our girls and must enjoy our protection. They must live to achieve their individual ambitions, to be great women of tomorrow. It is our duty to protect them. We are determined to restore peace to all part of the country – from the West to the East; North to the South. While calling for calm, I implore affected parents and families to restrain from making statements that may jeopardize the success of the rescue mission.
17. We are aware of orchestrations by some evil elements to take advantage of the development to score cheap political points. I call on law abiding citizens to shun activities and statements that may cause a breakdown of law and order.
18. The Government, under my watch, will continue to maintain normalcy and ensure that incidents of this nature are stopped. Be assured that measures are being put in place to achieve these objectives.
Thank you and may Almighty Allah bless our Country.
PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI