Nigeria News

UN Offers to Help Trace Abducted Students

The United Nations has said it offered to support Nigeria in rescuing the  abducted schoolgirls of the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.
 
A representative of the UN Secretary -General, the  Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Mr. Said Djinnit, who was on a fact-finding mission to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said apart from seeking for the girls, the organisation would like to know other specific areas it could help the country overcome the insecurity scourge.
"The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls  has been widely condemned. We are here to see what the UN can do to help in the release of the school girls
 
 
We also here to meet with officials in Nigeria and see how the UN can contribute to the peace and unity of the country.  Our visit to National Emergency Agency (NEMA) is to hear from the Director General and to know how far they have gone in the efforts to rescue the girls, making use the resources available to government and what the UN can contribute, he said.
 
While welcoming the visiting UN scribe, the Director General of  NEMA, Alhaji Sani-Sidi said the recent abduction of more than 200 female students of the Government Secondary School, Chibok by the Boko Haram insurgents had indeed created a complex dimension to the crisis in the North-east part of the country.
 
He said from NEMA's assessment report, more than 3,161,887 persons have been directly affected by the crisis while nine million others are in dire need of humanitarian relief assistance.
 
According to Sani-Sidi,  Nigeria like other nations had been confronted by a number of disasters, posing serious humanitarian challenges in form of displacement of people, damage to the environment and means of livelihood.
However, the DG admitted that the wave of insurgency in the north-eastern states of Nigeria in the past few years had become one of the greatest challenge facing emergency responders in the country.
 
While appealing for UN assistance, the he spoke of a looming food scarcity as many of the families in the affected communities do not have enough seeds to plant for this years cropping season.
 
"It has become necessary to ensure the urgent and significant scaling up of the relief intervention in all humanitarian sectors especially the provision of the food, resuscitation of means of livelihood and the reconstruction of destroyed houses and infrastructure," he said.
 
Sidi  said from the beginning of the emergency rule in the North-eastern states, NEMA in collaboration with the joint task force had established a humanitarian cell  in Borno State and sub-cells in Yobe and Adamawa States respectively to provide emergency relief assistance to communities affected by the crisis.
 
He further explained that the agency's offices in Maiduguri and Gombe had been mandated to sustain the provision of such assistance to civil population.
 
While giving further details federal government interventions to assist the affected communities, the DG said there had been a presidential initiative through which assorted food items were being distributed to displaced persons in the affected communities in  the three states.
 
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday called on President Goodluck Jonathan to reconsider his position that the federal government would not negotiate with terrorists for the release of the abducted schoolgirls.
 
In a speech he delivered yesterday in Abuja at the meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the association, NBA's president, Chief Okey Wali, SAN said that said that no option should be foreclosed in achieving peace.
 
Although, it took the association one month to condemn the abduction of the Chibok girls, Wali nevertheless said the federal government acted too slow in its response to the abduction.
 
He said: "While we agree that the terrorist sect Boko Haram should be routed out, we also advise that no option should be foreclosed in enthroning  peace.
"History has taught us that constructive engagement of such insurgents have sometimes yielded dividends.
 
"All the years of terrorism in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland was brought to an end by the 1998 Goodfriday Agreement, brokered by the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Tony Blair.
 
"Many of  us in the Niger Delta, will tell you that we did not believe that the amnesty program of the federal government would bring any peace in the region, but it did."
 
He also said that this was not the time to start setting up committees.
Wali also called on the federal government to review its strategy for fighting terror adding that the "current strategy is not working in spite of the trillions of Naira being expended on security."
 
He reiterated his  earlier reminder to the federal government that the primary duty of government is the security of lives and property of citizens. 
 
"At the moment, the Federal Government is not fulfilling this constitutional responsibility. What the Chibok girls’ episode has depicted is its exposure of the lethargic response of the federal government to matters of urgent national security as Chibok," he added.
 
He cited an intelligence report by the American Government, which shared the state departments concern that he girls might have been moved out of the country. 
 
He said: "Intelligence reports such as the one shared by the US is crucial in the war against terrorism. Intelligence gathering is one area the Nigerian Government has failed woefully.
 
"The U.S says that the girls may have been taken in several groups across border to Cameroon and Chad. 
 
"This is hardly surprising given how porous our borders are. Our borders in Nigeria are so vulnerable that rebels from Chad and Cameroun gendarmes always operate across our borders, commit heinous crimes and retreat to their countries. The NBA calls on the federal government to pay more attention to our borders with a view to securing them."
 
According to him, it was a big shame that it took the abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok for the menace of Boko Haram and terrorism to get the type of attention the government should pay to such dire situations.
 

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