The Borno Elders Forum, an umbrella body of elders in Borno State, yesterday condemned a statement attributed to the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan. She was reported as having said that Governor Kashim Shettima, as the chief security officer of the state, is to be held responsible for the schoolgirls’ abduction at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
Spokesperson of the Forum Bulama Mali Gubio, in statement issued yesterday in Maiduguri, said the first lady spoke out of ignorance because Borno is under a state of emergency and that, by that, the powers of control over security have been withdrawn from the governor and vested on the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who exercises the powers through the chief of defence staff or the chief of army staff.
The elders said: “We have listened to the very disturbing remarks of our First Lady saying Governor of Borno State Kashim Shettima should be held responsible as he is the chief security officer of Borno State. It is very important we remind her that the Emergency declared by her dear husband, Mr President, is still in force and this means the constitutional powers of the Governor as chief security officer have been temporarily withdrawn by the President in accordance with section 305 of the constitution which the President relied upon. The President is at the moment the chief security officer of Borno,Yobe and Adamawa states while the governors have administrative powers as democratic structures in compliance with the provisions of the constitution. The President as chief security officer of Borno exercises his powers through his appointees, the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff or any of the service chiefs and the Governor administers other aspects of governance that fall under the concurrent legislative list of the constitution.”
In addition, the elders said it was very ridiculous that the first lady threatened to lead women to protest at the Government House in Maiduguri when her husband is still the commander-in-chief of the armed forces with the provision of security directly vested on the federal government that he leads.
“If the First Lady of the nation absolves the President of blames and leads protest to the Governor of Borno, should the Governor’s wife also lead protest to the Chairman of Chibok local government area as the one to be blamed? Should the wife of the chairman also lead protest to the principal of the school as the one to be blamed and possibly the principal’s wife or husband lead protest to the gateman at the school as the person to be blamed? This is funny indeed, the First Lady should grow to be the mother of the country and not to be seen doing things that can best be seen as unpresidential and capable of causing unnecessary confusion in the land at a time that the country desires for leadership from her husband,” the statement said.
Jonathan Meets Gov Shettima, Others
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday held a meeting with the Borno State governor and other officials of the state government at the presidential villa to try and reconcile the different figures of the abducted girls currently being bandied around.
Those at the meeting included the governor of Borno, Alhaji Kashim Shettima; the Borno State commissioner for education, Hon. Musa Inuwa Kubo and the principal of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Mrs Asabe Kwambura where over 200 girls were abducted from the school 20 days ago.
The meeting was to afford the president the opportunity to hear in details the events surrounding the abduction of the girls, the security arrangement in place prior to the abduction, and the current situation of both the parents of the abducted girls and the girls that have so far escaped.
The commissioner of education and the principal of the school were said to have present to the president the pictures and names of all girls that are still missing and those that have escaped.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered from one of the elders of Chibok that the real number of the girls still missing is 223. He said 276 were abducted, while 53 managed to escape at different times. This variation in figures, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered, was the main reason for yesterday’s meeting at the villa so that the real figure of those that were abducted, those still missing and those that are free could be fully settled.
Because of this, LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered, the parents of the missing girls were asked to come to the school with pictures of their wards. It was however found that only 183 parents bothered to provide the pictures as some said the school authorities, the state government and the security agencies have not shown any evidence to them that they are really looking for their daughters.
Some of the parents had told LEADERSHIP Sunday that they have been kept in the dark regarding efforts being made by security agencies to get their girls back. Some said they have resorted to going to Maiduguri to see the GOC or the state government in search of information.
One of them confided in LEADERSHIP Sunday, “We keep hearing different and conflicting stories about our abducted girls, but nobody has deemed it fit to gather us and update us on what is happening. To be sincere to you, we have lost all hope regarding any effort that the authority could be doing toward getting our girls back.
“This is about 20 days now that our girls have been abducted; nobody has given us concrete information on exactly what is happening or the progress that has been made. Sometimes we even get the news from foreign media while our own officials keep us in the dark.”
He also debunked the story credited to the minister of interior, Comrade Abba Moro, that four more girls had escaped and been found in Konduga. ”When we heard the story, we rushed to Konduga but didn’t see any girl. We even checked the hospital there and found nothing. So if he said four more girls had escaped, then we want him to know that we are yet to see them,” he said.
First Lady to lead protest march to Chibok
In a bid to rescue the abducted 234 girls, the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, has concluded plans to lead a protest march to the state governor, Kashim Shettima.
The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Mrs Jonathan which was well attended by spouses of state governors, female legislators at both federal and state levels as well as leaders of the various women organisations that converged on Abuja.
At the meeting, Dame Patience set up a six-member committee chaired by wife of Borno State governor Hajiya Nana Shettima to conduct more investigations into the controversy surrounding the abduction of the schoolgirls and report back to her at an enlarged meeting.
Mrs Jonathan’s position at the meeting was that the women of Nigeria were determined to get to the root of the matter, media assistant to the first lady Mr Ayo Adewuyi noted in a statement. The committee, he said, is to invite key persons related to the abducted girls “to shed light on the controversies surrounding the abduction saga today, after which the women may undertake a march to Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State”.
The Borno State commissioner of women affairs, Hajiya Inna Galadima, who represented Hajiya Shettima, also told the meeting that 53 girls were currently in the custody of the state government.
She was also bombarded with a myriad of questions by the women as to how many students slept in the hostel that night of the abduction, why only the girls were kidnapped, why the principal withdrew after giving information that soldiers rescued some of the girls, and whether it was true that the girls were being married out as reported.