The apex northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has commended the Federal government on its relentless efforts that saw to the release of 21 Chibok girls out of the 217 abducted over two years ago.
A statement issued yesterday by the forum’s National Publicity Secretary Muhammad Ibrahim and made available to newsmen in Kaduna said, “the news from the Federal Government that 21 Chibok girls out of the 217 female students that were abducted over two years ago at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Borno state by the Boko Haram terrorists have been released by their abductors is a welcome and reassuring development.
The group said the feat clearly demonstrates the commitment and the determination of the Buhari Administration to not only tackle the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East but also to search, rescue and secure the release of all persons abducted by the Boko Haram and in particular the Chibok girls.
“The release of the 21 girls has certainly gladdened the hearts of the affected parents, their relatives, non-governmental organizations, Nigerians and in particular the Bring Back Our Girls organization (BBOG). It would be recalled that the BBOG not only initiated and sustained the campaign but also mobilized the whole world to put pressure on the Federal Government to intensify efforts in the search for the abducted students.
“ACF has also been in the forefront of condemning the lackluster attitude of the past regime over the abduction of the Chibok girls by the Boko Haram terrorists and its consistent appeal to government to deploy all security apparatus at its disposal to search for and rescue the girls.”
The group further reiterated that the cheering news that the Federal Government have secured the release of 21 Chibok girls from Boko Haram captivity has rekindled our hope and confidence in the Buhari administration that it is committed to the security and welfare of its citizens.
“ACF commends our security agencies for their professionalism in collaborating with the red cross and the Swiss government to secure the release of the Chibok girls. ACF therefore urges the security agencies to sustain this synergy and fast track the search and rescue operation in order to release the other girls still in captivity.
“ACF also urges the Federal Government to not only provide medical and rehabilitation facilities to the traumatized girls but also release them to their parents to quickly reintegrate into their community/communities.”
Meanwhile, Former military Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, on Friday, hailed the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari administration which led to the release of 21 Chibok girls who had been in captivity of the extremist sect, Boko Haram, for over two years.
He said this shortly after paying a courtesy call on the Alake and the Paramount Ruler, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, at his Ake Palace, in Abeokuta.
Fielding questions from newsmen, the former head of State described their captivity as an “episode” that would never occur in the history of the country again.
Abubakar was accompanied by his wife, Justice Fati Lami Abubakar and two sons.
He commended the effort of those involved in the rescue operation of the abducted girls and prayed that the remaining ones would return to their parents safely.
He said, “First and foremost, we give glory to God for saving the children and we congratulate each and every one who is involved in bringing the girls back.
“We pray that the rest will come back safely. I congratulate the parents who have been organized since this incident happened. It is an episode, and we pray that never will such occur or happen in our country. “
Abubakar identified dialogue as the only solution to resolve crisis in any part of the world, advising the Federal Government to apply such in the Niger-Delta area.
“Dialogue is the best option in the world where there is crisis or disagreement. We have to sit down and dialogue and we shall achieve success,” he added.
He had earlier paid a courtesy call on the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, at the Government House, Oke-Igbein, and Abeokuta.
Also, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan yesterday gave the federal government a pat in the on its fight against the Boko Haram insurgents.
He said the release of 21 out of the over 200 abducted Chibok girls, showed that the government is making progress in its fight against Boko Haram.
He described the abduction of the girls by the insurgents as a major crime against humanity, urging government “stop playing hide and seek game, as regards fight against the group.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan spoke with newsmen in Ilorin, Kwara State.
“The release of the girls is worth celebrating. This is because every life is worth celebrating. It is almost 900 days that over 200 of our girls were taken away. The whole world has been asking what is happening. 21 out of over 200 is not really a big deal anyway, but the parents of the 21 can at least rest their souls that they have found their daughters.”
“I wouldn’t want us to focus so much on the acts of omission and commission of our government in this matter in such a way as to forget that the main culprits in this whole affair is Boko Haram. They were the ones who kidnapped and kept those girls for this long for no just cause. “We should not allow the criticisms we have against government to becloud this major crime against humanity which this group of boys has committed.
“Anything Boko Haram is saying on social media or anywhere now, unless they come clean of everything they are just not serious. The onus lies on them to explain what has happened to the over 200 girls that they took away. I don’t think we should not be demanding such an explanation from our government. We should demand explanation from those who kidnapped these children unjustly.
“The whole thing itself is still a shame on our nation and it is still a greater shame that they are not explaining where others are. Have they died? Or have they thrown them somewhere?
I am one of those who have always said that if even it takes the release of those criminals to set free the poor innocent girls then we should have allowed those Boko Haram terrorists go since. We should not have waited till now.
“A case like this that has generated interest in Nigeria and abroad, I think government should deal with it in a transparent way and tell the truth about it. That is the least we deserve to know. It is not going to be wise to be telling stories and playing games at this stage. I hope that those who are advising government and speaking on its behalf will realize that this matter has generated so much attention everywhere. If Nigerians are asking questions government should know that out there they are asking even more questions.
“As for the state the innocent girls are now, nobody expected that almost three years in the midst of those circumstances they would come back the same way. I am even surprised that only 18 are mothers, the others are not. The fact that the others have not become mothers does not mean they have not been touched, he stated.”