Six months after the kidnap of over 200 schoolgirls by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, the Nigerian government said Tuesday it has done considerably well to ensure the girls’ release, but warned it will not tolerate “subversive” tendencies of campaigners calling for increased effort.
At a briefing Tuesday, exactly 180 days since the abduction of the girls, the government subtly accused the BringBackOurGirls group of inciting the public against the government.
“The efforts at inciting the populace against the government and her agencies is, to say the least, very unfortunate. It is necessary to caution those involved that there is a clear difference between credible civil agitation and subversive preoccupations,” Mr. Omeri said.
The warning was given by the coordinator of the National Information Centre, NIC, Mike Omeri, in an address to mark the six months of the girls abduction.
The government also listed its achievements at rescuing the girls to include setting up a fact-finding committee, conducting surveillance and partnering with foreign allies including the United States and the United Kingdom.
NIC was set up by the government to brief citizens on the on-going insurgency in the northern part of the country.
The #BringBackOurGirls group on Tuesday attempted to meet President Goodluck Jonathan, but was stopped, the second time that would happen.
In an address, Mr. Omeri accused the BringBackOurGirls group of politicising the campaign for the release of the girls.
“In the current situation, the emphasis should be on the genuine concerns of the citizens as opposed to political considerations as is evident in the current agitations,” he said.
He said Nigerians must understand that “every attack on the government by unpatriotic members of the public, invariably, emboldens the resolve of the insurgents,”
The NIC spokesperson said since the kidnap of the girls nearly 180 days ago, about 2,000 persons -including military and security personnel, as well as innocent civilians and foreigners- have lost their lives to the activities of the insurgents.
He said this has really given the government worry since the security threat of further abductions and terrorism is still ever present.
Mr. Omeri said contrary to insinuations, the government is willing to provide credible information on the anti-terror campaign, arguing however, that operational reality does not permit unbridled disclosure of operational plans and strategy, including a day-by-day account of troops’ movement, engagement and deployment of hardware, as some agitators have continue to advocate.
He said the Nigerian armed forces and the security agencies have developed an extensive rescue plan and tactical operational methodology embedded within the on-going military efforts in the northeast.
“In order words, the rescue of the girls is, no doubt, an integral part of the larger government effort to safeguard the territorial integrity of the Nigeria which the armed forces must be allowed to prosecute logically, in line with well-known and established tradition,” he said.
He added that while democracy encourages peaceful and meaningful protests, he said such protesters, especially as it relates to the Chibok incident, are expected to focus on the broader and all-encompassing concerns on lives being lost daily since terrorist action broke out in the northeast.
“It should be clearly understood that government is, as much, concerned with protecting the totality of Nigerians,” he said.
The NIC coordinator said the armed forces and security services have made remarkable strides towards containing the activities of the terrorists.
Mr. Omeri listed efforts being made by the government to rescue the girls to include the setting up of a fact-finding committee headed by Brigadier-General Ibrahim Sabo (rtd) to ascertain and clarify the circumstances surrounding the abduction saga.
Others, he said, include the successful dispatch of troops to carry out land and aerial surveillance and occasional bombardment of terrorists’ locations, in addition to the government’s enlistment of foreign partners to further this cause.
He added that several regional and sub-regional collaborative engagements by many countries with the effective support of the U.K., U.S., France and other nations have resulted in strategic alliances to counter insurgency in the sub-region.
In what appears like a positive endorsement of the #BBOG, Mr. Omeri said their activities has brought the issue to the international arena.
“Celebrities and international personages have also been enlisted in the struggle against terrorism and the issue of abduction in the country,” he said.
He added that Mr. Jonathan has also effectively presented the situation at the immediate past United Nations General Assembly and other international development fora.
“Only yesterday, the committee of foreign ministers of neighbouring West African countries met in Nigeria with a view to establishing an effective legal framework for military operations against terrorism.
“Evidently, there is increasing collaboration and cooperation among the countries of the sub-region. Despite the promise of support by other more experienced countries such as the US, UK, France and others in the fight against terrorism, the Boko Haram menace is essentially a Nigeria problem in which the government, citizens and the armed forces are determined and committed to dealing with,” he said.