FG invites #BBOG to Sambisa, group gives conditions
In what seems a move to show what it has done in the fight against terrorism, the Federal government has invited the #BBOG to join in a tour to the Sambisa Forest.
The vast forest area used to be the operational headquarters of the Boko Haram Terrorist group until the Nigerian military claimed it had dislodged the sect from it.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed extended an invitation to the convener of the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili to nominate three members of her group to join the military on a guided trip into Sambisa forest in search of the missing Chibok girls.
The BBOG has been in the forefront of criticisms against the government insisting that it was not doing enough to rescue more than 200 students abducted by the terrorist group from a girls’ secondary school in Chibok, Borno state in April 2014.
While 80 of them have returned home, 196 are still in captivity.
The minister’s letter read in part, “Let me congratulate you most sincerely for the continuing interest of your group, Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), in the fate of the Chibok girls, including those who have regained freedom and those who remain in captivity.”
“In recognition of your unwavering commitment to the freedom of the girls who remain in captivity, you are invited to nominate three of the BBOG members to join you on a guided trip to the North-East on Monday, 16 Jan. 2017.
“The trip, being planned by the military, will see the Ministers of Defence and Information as well the Chief of Air Staff joining the invited BBOG members and a select group of journalists, first to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Command Centre in Yola to witness first-hand the efforts being made to search for the girls by the NAF and then join the day and night sorties with the NAF to the Sambisa Forest.
“Please note that due to limited seats on the search planes only two of the invited BBOG members will join the NAF sorties.
“After the sorties, the team will return to Yola for a briefing by the NAF on their daily search for the girls, as well as all those who have been abducted by Boko Haram.
“It is our belief that this trip will avail the BBOG the opportunity to witness and better understand the efforts being made by the Nigerian military to secure freedom for the girls”.
However, the BBOG has demanded for a pre-tour meeting between it and National Security Adviser, the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff, and the Chief of Air Force before it will accept government invitation for a trip into Sambisa Forest.
The group said before the pre-tour meeting that the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, must retract and apologise to it for endorsing a statement by “a certain group” visiting him which described the BBOG movement as engaging in “social media terrorism”.
Mohammed in the letter said the trip would give the BBOG group the opportunity to witness and better appreciate the efforts government is making to secure the release of the abducted girls.
Read also: Relief as MMM announces return 24hrs earlier
The letter added that the tour will involve a select group of journalists, the ministers of defence and information, the Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Army Staff.
In their reaction, however, to the proposed tour, the BBOG group in a letter dated January 13 and endorsed by Ezekwesili said its members unanimously agreed to accept the invitation, but with conditions.
She said, “We had an emergency meeting of our Movement to discuss your invitation to embark on a ‘guided tour’ of the Nigerian Air Force Command (Yola) and Sambisa Forest with officials of the government.
“However, before proceeding with further discussion on the proposed visit, we propose a pre-tour meeting to discuss pertinent issues that will help inform our decision to proceed. We believe that this prior meeting would help provide first-hand knowledge of, and answers to questions that our movement wishes to raise ahead of the guided visit.”
Ezekwesili went further to state in the letter that participants at the meeting should include the National Security Adviser, the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Army Staff, and the Chief of Air Force.
She frowned that the Chief of Army Staff, Buratai, endorsed a statement by “a certain group” who visited him and described the BBOG movement as engaging in “social media terrorism”.
Ezekwesili then said, “It is puzzling that the reported visit happened less than 48 hours before our Movement received your letter asking us to travel in the company of the same Chief of Army Staff to Sambisa Forest.
“We demand therefore that ahead of the pre-tour meeting we have proposed herein, that the Chief of Army Staff retracts and apologises for endorsing such slanderous attacks against our Movement #BringBackOurGirls and specifically at some of our leaders. Such a step would communicate that it is with goodwill that the Federal Government is asking us to entertain the visit proposed in your letter.”
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January 15, 2017 at 11:01 am
“nominate three members of her group to join the military on a guided trip into Sambisa forest in search of the missing Chibok girls,” this is when we’d know if they’ve just been making noise or they are truly committed to seeing the return of the abdicated girls
January 15, 2017 at 11:10 am
The BBOG group have requested well, once they get an apology and pre-meeting, it will show the government appreciate their efforts.
January 15, 2017 at 11:54 am
What useless efforts do they make?
As for me, they are of no reputation to me.
Roland Uchendu Pele
January 15, 2017 at 2:38 pm
It doesnt matter whatever goes on between FG and the group. The remaining girls should be found and taken back to their parents.
January 15, 2017 at 11:34 am
Mr Lai Mohammed is a smart man, he knew how to silent a pretender like the BBOG led by Oby. I wonder too all these while they have been clamoring for the missing girls ,they have never for once go to Maiduguri to protest except in Abuja where they know they are safe. Bunch of hypocrites
January 15, 2017 at 12:13 pm
Oby is not ready to die o.
She will never nominate herself for such search. I am sure no BBOG members will be ready for such deadly sacrifice. Sambisa forest is like saying come and relax in hell fire.
January 15, 2017 at 3:44 pm
If not for BBOG, those released girls won’t have gained freedom by now. Ezekwesili really deserved praises and not condemnations.
January 15, 2017 at 3:53 pm
They are beefing her because she is only the audacious woman to confront the government over the missing girls.