Chibok Schoolgirls: Nigerian boarding schools must provide security for students – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan

Presidential Fact Finding Committee on Abducted Female Students in Chibok visited Mr. Jonathan.

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Despite that Borno State has been under a state of emergency for over a year, President Goodluck Jonathan has virtually blamed the authorities of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State for failing to provide security thus leading to the kidnap of 276 girls from the school.

The final year teenagers were kidnapped by the Boko Haram from the school dormitory on April 14.

“If we had just five security personnel in the compound that night, although they couldn’t have stood the firepower of the invaders, they could have alerted the girls and they wouldn’t have been deceived,” Mr. Jonathan said in Abuja while receiving the report of the Presidential Fact Finding Committee on Abducted Female Students in Chibok, Borno.

Mr. Jonathan said if the school had provided security for the students, “most of them (the girls) would have been able to escape and probably the number taken would not have been up to 30.”

“But because there was no security at all, there was nobody to even warn the girls that there was danger’’, he said.
The President, therefore, urged school operators, especially those in the north east of the country, to provide basic security for their boarding students.

He said henceforth, school owners, especially in the north east, who want to keep their students in boarding houses, must be ready to make basic security provisions for their safety.

“Let me charge everybody, whether corporate bodies, federal and state governments or individuals that own schools especially in the north east, that if we must keep students in hostels, there must be some basic security that should be provided,” he said.

“On the issue of Chibok, even if we had five police officers guarding that school that night when the invaders came in, they couldn’t have been able to deceive those girls.

“The story was that they came in military camouflage and deceived the girls that they were soldiers, who came to take them on protective custody because Boko Haram was invading the community, and they followed.

“While I am not expecting school owners to put an army battalion on guard, at least basic security arrangement should be made to protect their students,” he added.
The president’s statement comes weeks after the West African Examination Council, WAEC, said it warned the Borno State government of the dangers of holding the final Year SSCE examination in Chibok.
WAEC said it only agreed to hold the examination in the school when the state government assured it of adequate security. The state government never denied the examination authority’s claim.

Analysts, however, questioned WAEC’s rational of asking a state government, whose state is under a state of emergency, and who, even before the emergency rule, had no control over security agencies, to provide security for students.
The abduction of the Chibok students and the continuous killings by the Boko Haram in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa has made several people including the state government question the state of emergency.

The federal government has however defended it saying security officials need it to be effective in tackling the insurgents.

On Friday, Mr. Jonathan also disclosed that his administration would not limit its anti-terrorism efforts to military intervention only as it was currently looking at economic issues to improve people’s welfare.

He said in addition to government’s Almajiri school programme, his administration was strongly supporting the Safe Schools Initiative to keep children in troubled states in school.

The President said Victim Support Fund would soon be floated to cater for those affected by the insurgency, including orphaned children and those whose businesses had been destroyed.

He promised that the Federal Government would rebuild the Chibok school using army engineers.

“All buildings there will be demolished and rebuilt. That will start after the children are rescued.

“On completion, the federal government will not manage the school because it is a state school. We will hand it over to the state government to manage’’, he added.

He assured the committee members that the security council would study their report and take the necessary steps.

The Chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Sabo, said the report addressed a number of issues that were incidental to the committee’s terms of reference.

He listed the issues to include matters dealing with insurgency in general and the military/political responses vital to overcoming the current security challenge.

Mr. Sabo said the committee met with four of the girls who regained freedom and their families.

The chairman, however, advised that the report should be treated with utmost confidentiality in order not to jeopardise the ongoing rescue efforts or compromise national security.

This, he said, does not preclude government from releasing information that may be useful for a better public understanding of issues surrounding the abduction saga.

Mr. Jonathan inaugurated the committee on May 6 to provide government with accurate information about the incident.

Its six terms of reference included liaising with the Borno Government and establishing the circumstances leading to the school remaining opened for boarding students when other schools were closed.

It was also mandated to liaise with relevant authorities and the parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of those abducted, among others.
(NAN)


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