We’ve Lost Track of Chibok Girls, Buhari Admits

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President Buhari at Wednesday's presidential media chat
President Buhari at Wednesday’s presidential media chat

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday dimmed any hope towards the soonest rescue of 219 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram when he admitted that the Federal Government no longer know where the girls are being kept.
In the twilight of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, the then Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, to many Nigerians’ relief, told the country that the Military have found the Chibok girls’ location.
However, in a reversal of that gain which must have broken the hearts of millions across the world interested in the rescue of the Chibok girls, especially their parents, President Buhari, at his inaugural presidential media chat, said: “We have no firm intelligence on where they (the Chibok girls) are physically and what condition they are in. But what we believe from our intelligence, they keep taking the girls around, they are not keeping all the girls in one place, we don’t know how many divisions they made of them and where they are.”
Nevertheless, President Buhari said the government was open to negotiating with “credible leadership of Boko Haram” to free the girls. His words: “We are still keeping our options open. If a credible leadership of Boko Haram can be established and they tell us where those girls are, we are prepared to negotiate with them without any pre-condition. This we have made absolutely clear. But while they are keeping the Chibok girls, they must not get away with the idea that we will not attempt to secure the rest of Nigeria.
The President also covered a number of political and economic grounds in a presidential chat watched by millions of Nigerians and which set Twitter alight as citizens twitted their questions to the session using the hashtag, #Askbuhari.
Here are some of the President’s reactions to questions posed to him:
On obvious flouting of court orders by his government on Dasuki:
“Technically, if you see the kind of atrocities those people committed, if they jump bail? I am sorry to say this publicly…the former president just wrote to the governor of the CBN and said give N40 billion to someone while you have two million Internally Displaced Persons, what kind of country do you want to run?
Biafra and marginalisation of Ndigbo and Nnamdi Kanu’s detention:
“The one you called Kanu, do you know he has two passports? One Nigerian, one British and he came to this country without using any passport? Do you know that he brought sophisticated equipment into this country and started broadcasting for Radio Biafra? There is a treasonable charge against him and I hope the court will listen to the case.
“They say they are marginalised but they have not defined the extent of marginalisation. Who is marginalising them? Where? Do you know? Choosing a minister is not a matter of ethnicity, it is a matter of the constitution. I am limited by what the constitution says that there must be a member of the executive council from each state. There is a lot of partisan politics in it. Who is the Minister of State for Petroleum? Is he not an Igbo? Who is the governor of the CBN? Is he not an Igbo? Who is the Minister of Labour? Who is the Minister of Science and Technology? What do they want? I stood elections and I won, I am limited by the constitution, I have a member of every state in the Federal Executive Council and I have to listen to them when I sit as chairman. That is the limit the constitution gave me”.
On the integrity of all 36 ministers:
“I don’t think I tolerate corruption, I don’t think I picked anybody that I know will embarrass my government. But if you have any evidence about any of my ministers, I accept responsibility for the 36 ministers that I have.
“I don’t think I took anybody among the ministers who has got a case in court. Tell me one out of the 36. I don’t think I will deliberately make that mistake.”
On Army-Shite leader clash in Zaria:
“I expect the Kaduna State Government to set up a judicial inquiry because it happened in Kaduna, in one of the cities and it has been there for the last twenty years from what I have been reading from papers. They will occupy a federal highway, sometimes from Kano to Kaduna. This is what I heard.
“We have a system of investigation, the military that was involved too have a tradition of investigation and I am the head of the federal government, I have to wait for the official report before I can come out as head of the federal government and make a statement. So I am allowing the Army and the Kaduna State government to submit their report of inquiry. Meanwhile it does not mean that the police, the SSS and other directorate involved are not doing their own part of constitutional role.

“How can any group proclaim statehood in a state? I don’t want to speak about it in details now, I better leave it still after the report of the inquiry but there are a number of clips I saw, where some excited teenagers were visually hitting the chest of a general, mounting road blocks and threatening them with missiles.
On recovered looted Fund:
“Money has been recovered but whatever we recover, has to end up in court because I feel personally that Nigerians are entitled to know the truth and the truth will be what the court has discovered by the submission made to them in terms of documentation and the documentation includes the bank statement of where our money was lodged, when it was lodged and how much. Whether it is petrol from NNPC or Customs and Excise or money directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

On N5,000 monthly stipend for the less privileged:
“When my VP was quoted, how can I come here and disown it? First, I believe in getting facts, how many are involved? How are we going to do it? Is it state by state or geo-political zone by geo-political zone? In trying to get the bottom of the problem, a lot of work has to be done and if it is undertaken, we have to look at it very well.”
On banning hijab
“Placing ban on hijab is not enough. However, if this continues it will be banned. Because it is for the safety of the people generally.”
On the interview panel for the first presidential media chat were Mr. Kayode Akintemi, Channels TV; Dr. Ngozi Anyaegbulam, Media World International; Munir Dan Ali, Daily Trust and Ibanga Isine, Premium Times.

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