“Nigeria must continue to function, that is the only way we can defeat this terror.”
The worsening security situation in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and the kidnap of girls in Borno, was the major topic of discussion as President Goodluck Jonathan, Friday, met with security chiefs and some of his advisers.
At the meeting, Mr. Jonathan directed security chiefs to increase surveillance and expedite investigation into the May 1 bomb blast in Nyanya, Abuja. He also charged them to ensure that those behind the heinous act are arrested and brought to justice.
The president also gave instructions for additional proactive measures by security agencies to enhance public safety; including increased public awareness for citizens to step up their cooperation with security agencies by reporting suspected activities and persons likely to cause a breach of public peace.
The meeting, held at the Aso Villa, Abuja, reviewed the Nyanya explosion and the kidnapping of over 200 girls from the Government Secondary School, Chibok.
The meeting was attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Defence Minister, Aliyu Gusau, Service Chiefs and heads of security agencies.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said the meeting received updates on the Nyanya bombing, the ongoing search for the Chibok girls, and efforts made so far to deal with related incidents of insecurity and terrorism in the country.
Thursday’s explosion in Nyanya occurred almost three weeks after a similar explosion within the same vicinity killed at least 75 people.
Nineteen people were confirmed dead from the May 1 explosion.
Mr. Maku said that the service chiefs also briefed the meeting on the kidnap of the Chibok girls and efforts so far made to locate and rescue them, and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok on April 14 by suspected members of the Boko Haram. The same group believed to have carried out the Abuja explosions.
Mr. Maku assured that all those involved in the abduction will be made to pay for their action.
“They want to divide public opinion, attempts to ground the government and create a state of confusion,” he said.
“The people of Pakistan are moving shoulder to shoulder with government and Nigeria will never allow the terrorists to succeed.”
Mr. Maku also highlighted the controversy that has trailed the actual number of girls kidnapped.
“Figures keep going up and coming down. We have also tried to reach parents and the Police in Borno have asked people to come forward with information,” he said.
“We were told that the terrorists came with two vans to pick up the girls and the media has been quoting different figures and we feel that this must be addressed. But this will not stop our efforts at rescuing these girls.”
He added that “extensive and intensive aerial surveillance by the Air Force has been carried out in all the routes leading into and out of Chibok up to the Chad and Cameroon borders. Other parts of Borno and Adamawa states are also under the searchlight. Every information relayed to security agencies has so far been investigated, including the search of all places suspected as a possible hide-away of the kidnapped girls”.
The Information Minister added that “In view of the inconsistent and contradictory information available to government on the Chibok abduction, the President has set up a fact-finding committee comprising security agencies, civil society, international organisations and other stakeholders”.
He said “the President commiserates with the families of the deceased in the latest bombing at Nyanya, and empathises with all those who were injured in the incident. He has also directed full medical treatment for the victims at government expense.
“The President also shares in the pain and anguish of the parents and guardians of the Chibok girls abducted by the terrorists. The President’s heart goes out to these our unfortunate daughters who have had to endure the trauma of abduction and separation from their loved ones. The government and people of Nigeria stand solidly by them.
“The President further appeals to the parents, guardians, relations and members of the public to furnish security agencies with all the information that will assist in the rescue of the girls”.
According to the Minister, the federal government also appreciates the public outpour of support and the sentiment expressed so far by all Nigerians, including civil society groups who have condemned the abduction of the girls and terrorism in the country. He said the federal government strongly believes that the people of Nigeria, standing together, will overcome the current security challenges.
“Wherever the girls are in the world, we will get them back, apprehend and punish the culprits,” Mr. Maku said.