*Says Jonathan must live with moral burden of neglect over girls abduction
*Lampoons Patience Jonathan’s conspiracy theory of doubting Thomasism
*Release of girls not by swap – FG
*Akintola hails new CAN executive in Osun
By Kemi Kasumu and Ifeanyi O. Ifeanyi
President Muhammadu Buhari has been given accolade for the release of 21 Chibok Girls who were among over 200 abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014 under the People’s Democratic Party-led government of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The girls, according to a release by Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) signed by its director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, were set free Thursday after several negotiations between the insurgents and the Federal Government.
The government had however said the release of the 21 Chibok girls was not a swap for any Boko Haram prisoner.
MURIC, by the release, commended the Federal Government for the successful negotiation which led to the freedom of 21 of the Chibok girls, as, according to it, the development marked the beginning of the liberation of the girls in totality.
It added that the release also showcased government’s genuine commitment to the rescue of the Chibok girls, saying it was a plus for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although, Akintola said in the statement, that it was not yet a time for celebration but that it was worth to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing out 21 of the girls from captivity.
The release said, “It may be a small number but it is a pointer to better days ahead. A silver lining has appeared in the sky after cloudy and stormy days. In particular, we hail President Buhari for his recent passionate appeal to the United Nations (UN) to come to his aid in negotiating with the Boko Haram insurgents. We believe that it was this transparent and highly pragmatic approach which brought the Red Cross and the UN into the negotiation process. It is needless to say that the insurgents saw credibility and sincerity in FG’s latest negotiation moves because international agencies were involved.
“However, the release of the 21 girls has effectively punctured the conspiracy theory of a few doubting Thomases led by the wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who alleged that the abduction of the girls was a phantom. The reunion of the girls with the rest of Nigerians is also a serious indictment on the former president who dilly dallied for 18 good days after their kidnap before lifting a finger. Had he acted early, the girls would have been rescued before the insurgents did so much harm to them.
“Former President Jonathan must therefore live with the moral burden of official and deliberate neglect in the case of the abduction of the Chibok girls for the rest of his life. It was sheer dereliction of duty at the highest echelon of power. No more, no less. Jonathan’s moral nightmare must include the trauma experienced by the girls and their parents over the single parent phenomenon to which some of the girls who came back with kids are unjustly subjected.
“We are saddened by the fact that some of the girls came back with children of their own but we thank Allah that they are alive. We charge FG to come up with a programme for the full rehabilitation of the 21 girls, their kids and others still in captivity whose release we are eagerly anticipating,” MURIC said, appealing to the parents of the Chibok girls whose children were yet to be released to remain hopeful, to exercise patience and to have faith in the efforts of the Buhari administration to bring back their daughters.
On a final note, the Muslim rights group appealed to the #BringBackOurGirls group to observe decorum and rational behavior in the methods adopted in putting pressure on government even as it commended it (BBOG) for its effort so far. It however came clear that while public demonstrations in the days of Jonathan could be rationalised in the face of official lethargy, that the same could not be said about the Buhari period.
“We therefore advise the BBOG group to stop public demonstrations henceforth. Public demonstrations are capable of being hijacked by hoodlums, who may loot shops, attack innocent motorists and commit other atrocities. BBOG should divert its energy to peaceful advocacy on the issue through press statements and humanitarian efforts aimed at improving the standard of living of the Chibok girls in particular, their education, their kids, their parents and the Chibok community in general,” said MURIC.
Chibok girls release not by swap
Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had disclosed, yesterday, in Abuja at a world press conference held on the latest development on the abducted Chibok girls release saying that contrary to earlier report that the girls were released on swap basis, the release secured based on a very delicate negotiation and confidence built over time.
‘‘We can confirm that 21 of the girls were released, safely to us by 5.30 this Thursday morning and they were flown to Kaduna from the location of their release. This is the most glaring manifestation to date of the unwavering commitment of Mr. President to secure the safe release of the girls and reunite them with their families. It is also a result of the round-the-clock efforts by the administration to put a closure to the sad issue of the kidnap of the girls. We expect the released girls to land in Abuja shortly.’’
Ahead of their arrival, he said that Federal Government had assembled a team of medical doctors, psychologists, social workers, trauma experts, etc to properly examine the girls, especially because they have been in captivity for so long. He also disclosed that government will adequately debrief the girls and had started contacting their parents as part of the necessary verification exercise, adding that government would release the names to the public as soon as the verification was concluded.
…Group hails new CAN leadership in Osun over change of attitude
In the meantime, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), on a separate ground, had congratulated the new executive of the Osun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (OSCAN) who recently paid a visit to the state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, saying it was highly commendable as, according to it, the new CAN strives to extend hand of fellowship to the state government.
OSCAN in the courtesy visit commended the governor for his commitment to the development and transformation of the state in the face of present economic recession and lauded the Governor Aregbesola for being consistent in championing equity, balance and harmony among the adherents of the three major faiths in the state.
In a release made available to The DEFENDER, the Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola said: “We laud the new executive of OSCAN for this positive and progressive move. It is highly commendable. We are thrilled to find a new CAN leadership in the State of Osun extending the hand of fellowship to the state government. It is a radical departure from the past and we sincerely hope this newly found rapport will continue. We must build more bridges across the divides in order to move the state forward and harmony among the various faiths is cardinal to this objective,” Akintola said in the release.
MURIC, however, called on Christian faithful in the state to support the Michael Okodu leadership in his bid to cooperate with the state government and return to the path of peaceful coexistence with the adherents of other faiths in the state.
Professor Ishaq Akintola charged Muslim leaders in the state to reciprocate in like manner, saying, “What the State of Osun needs presently is sensitive, responsible, visionary and pious religious leaders. Only thus can the dynamic steps being taken by the state government in the area of education and industry be fruitful,” he said.