President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that the security and intelligence services would go on with their operation to free the abducted girls.
He spoke while inaugurating the presidential fact-finding committee set up to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the 234 – police said 267 – secondary school girls in Chibok, Borno State.
The committee, he said, is not an administrative or a judicial panel. The fact-finding committee will not interface with the functions exclusively reserved for the state government.
The committee is also not a replacement for the ongoing search and rescue operations by security agencies or for covert intelligence gathering required to assist the operation.
According to the President, setting up of the committee is inevitable to confront the sad circumstances that surrounded the abduction.
He said: “First, let me make it very clear. Luckily, the Minister of Justice is here, that this committee is neither a judicial committee nor an administrative committee to look into the affairs of this incident.
“You will agree with me that this is not a committee that brings joy to me and indeed our country men and women. However, it is a necessary step which government must take to confront the sad circumstances surrounding the abduction of female students, our daughters in Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok.
Fellow country men and women, this is a trying moment for our country and it is reassuring that we have the empathy and cooperation of friendly countries from across the world at this time.
“I am appreciative of the fact that this sad incident has attracted global outrage. This is a clear testimony to the fact that humanity can come together and stand as one against evil, no matter how it is presented.
“This is the time when we must dwell together beyond all political, religious or regional divide against our common enemy. We must remain vigilant and be ready to assist security agencies and authorities at all time.
“We must keep supporting the families whom for seeking education for their daughters are undergoing untold pains at this moment. Let me assure the families and our dear daughters that in conjunction with international community that government will do everything possible to get our girls back.
“We share your pain and suffering and are with you in prayers. We urge you to cooperate with the investigations in spite of your understandably difficult situation. We employ you to remain strong.”
The President also reassured all Nigerians and guests including delegates to the World Economic Forum, of a safe and conducive atmosphere.
Committee Chairman Brig.-General Ibrahim A. Sabo advised Jonathan not to be stampeded into taking any action capable of further endangering the lives of the abducted girls.
He said: “We are not unmindful of the tantrums and invectives on your person and our committee by ignorant people. Such people are neither soundly patriotic nor intelligently selfish, they dwell on the theory of the aircraft and marriage.”
The committee is to .liaise with the Borno State Government and establish the circumstances leading to the School remaining open for boarding students when other schools were closed;
.with relevant authorities and the parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted; and
.interface with the security services and Borno State Government to ascertain how many of the missing girls have returned”.
The committee is to mobilise the surrounding communities and the general public on citizen support for a rescue strategy and operation.” It was also articulate a framework for a multi-stakeholder action for the rescue of the missing girls.
The committee is also expected to advise the government on any matter incidental to the terms of reference.
The Committee gave reason for the absence of the three Borno State representatives at yesterday’s inauguration.
A statement by the spokesman for the committee, Mr. Kingsley Osadolor, reads: “The Committee took cognisance of the absence of the three representatives of Borno State Government during the committee’s inauguration at State House, Abuja.
“The committee contacted the Secretary to the Borno State Government, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, who explained that he had been away, but promised to send the nominated representatives to the next plenary of the Presidential Committee.
“The Committee has broken into clusters of workgroups to immediately gather and sift facts already in the public domain, and within the knowledge of appropriate agencies, with a view to ascertaining gaps, which will assist the Committee in the next stages of its fact-finding mission.”