Three months after they were kidnapped by armed insurgents, the Nigerian government has said it is satisfied that it at least knows where the abducted girls are being held.
Over 250 girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14, with about 217 of them still with their abductors.
However, after meeting for over three hours, the Nigerian Council of States told journalists that the government, despite not being able to free the girls, was satisfied it knew where they were being held.
The Council, which is chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday, held its second meeting for the year; chiefly to discuss the Chibok crisis as well as other security situations in the country.
Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, alongside the governors of Kaduna and Edo States, Ramalan Yero and Adams Oshiomhole, said the military confirmed that efforts were underway to rescue the girls and very soon there would be good news.
“It was also heart-warming to note that the issue is not whether we can rescue the girls, but the issue is how we can rescue them in a way as to ensure their safety so that we don’t end up endangering their lives in the attempt to rescue them.
“We are very satisfied the security agents know very well where the girls are located and they are on top of situation,” Mr. Akpabio disclosed.
The Council of State, which is the highest advisory body to the President, consists of the Vice President, former heads of states, governors of the 36 states including the Abuja minister, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Inspector General of Police.
Several former heads of states were in attendance including Olusegun Obasanjo, Shehu Shagari, Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, Ernest Shonekan, and Abdusalami Abubakar. A former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, was absent from the meeting.
There has been widespread condemnation of the kidnap of the teenage girls, and criticisms of the handling of the kidnap by Nigerian authorities. Some foreign countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. have since offered to help in the rescue efforts.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was one of those who criticised the government’s handling of the kidnap. He accused President Goodluck Jonathan of self-denial of the kidnap and failure to act promptly within few hours and days after the kidnap.
Mr. Obasanjo also said in an interview that he had ways of reaching out to the Boko Haram, but needed the permission of the president.
Mr. Akpabio, however, declined to comment on whether or not the former president put forward his ideas to the council.
“This will be a third report,” the Akwa Ibom governor said; urging journalists, instead, to approach the former president on the matter.
Mr. Akpabio noted that Council also ratified and approved the appointment of certain Commissioners in the National Population Commission, whose states still had vacant slots. The states, he said, included Ekiti, Yobe, Jigawa, Kebbi and Zamfara.
The Council, he said, also urged Nigerians to be patient with the government and security agencies as they carry out their duties in the face of the on-going security challenge.
He noted that there was a need for every person in Nigeria to be vigilant. He affirmed that “council was satisfied that the President was on top of the (security) issue”.
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the Edo State governor said council agreed that “the issue of suicide bombing was very new to the country and the armed forces are a paying huge price that they should be commended for”.
He said Council also urged the media, while reporting, to have the unity and security of the nation at heart. He noted that politicians were also cautioned to put the country first and watch their utterances.
Mr. Oshiomhole said that religious organisations had a duty to play in educating their followers, pointing out that there was no genuine Muslim or Christian who believed that God needed help to kill anyone.
“We also agreed that there can be no quick fix,” he said, regarding the security situation in the country.
The Kaduna State governor said council also discussed the politicisation of the security challenges. He said there was no need for that; adding that politics could not continue if there was no one to govern.
None of the governors would confirm whether the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, Muhammad Abubakar, was extended. His tenure ends on July 30.
Attendees at the Tuesday meeting included the Senate President, David Mark; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mohammad Uwais.
Other governors at the meeting included those of Kaduna, Delta, Niger, Ebonyi, Bayelsa, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Kebbi, Gombe, Enugu and the Acting governor of Taraba. The Deputy Governors at the meeting included those of Benue, Jigawa, Ondo, Ogun and Yobe states.