President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that all abducted persons by insurgent groups, including the schoolgirls from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, would be rescued safely.
Buhari stated this when he received three rescued lecturers of University of Maiduguri and the 10 Police Officers’ wives at the presidential villa, Abuja.
He noted that the rescue of his visitors on Feb. 10 was a `very huge relief’ to him and to all Nigerians.
“Let me clearly reiterate the resolve of this administration to ensure all persons abducted by insurgents are rescued or released safely.
“This is especially against the back drop of the recent sad incident where another group of girls were abducted on Feb. 19 from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe.
“I have since directed all security agencies to immediately ensure that every effort is directed to ensure safety of our schools and students as well as bringing back the abducted girls to their families,’’ he said.
The president told the rescued persons that apart from their family members, every peace loving Nigerian prayed for their safety and wished them early release from the hold of their abductors.
“While government was fully aware of the expectations of your families and the general public for their immediate freedom, the path to your freedom was painstaking and protracted.
“This was because the group responsible for your abduction was not in a particular location but based in different locations that if not properly handled could result in dire consequences,’’ he added.
He thanked all the various security agencies for their professionalism throughout the process of arranging their freedom.
He also lauded other agencies of government, sister nations in the Lake Chad region, the International Committee of the Red Cross who had contributed to their safe release.
Buhari said that the federal government would also work closely with all stakeholders such as the United Nations, donor agencies and voluntary organisations towards rehabilitating and resettling all those displaced as a result of the activities of the insurgents.
On one of the abductees, Jummai Ibrahim, who was about to complete her service year when the incident occurred, the President said: “I suppose the NYSC should give a certificate of discharge to the person that spent the remaining of her Service somewhere else (with abductors).’’
In his remarks, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Alhaji Lawal Daura, said the abducted NYSC Corp member would have passed out with the last batch in 2017.
He disclosed that the DSS had chosen the path of negotiation for the release of the victims because it was considered as the safest.
According to him, any forceful attempt to rescue the victims could endanger their lives.
“These negotiations took several months and the Department of State Services with support of the external elements of the group in diaspora and support from friendly countries and liaising with International Community of the Red Cross, made the rescue possible.
“The process was slow due to the problem of dealing with two different groups based in different locations at the same time.
“In addition, the negotiations took place mostly outside the country, though subsequently finalized in the theatre of operations.’’
He further explained that the negotiations were mainly centred on an attempt at conflict mitigation which included the fate of arrested members of the insurgent groups especially, accepting to those found not to be culpable in any criminal action.
He further maintained that the negotiation was also centred on the possibility of granting amnesty to those willing to surrender and ready to lay down their arms.
Dr Solomon Yusuf, who spoke on behalf of the abductees, thanked the government and all Nigerians for ensuring their release.
He said: “While we were in captivity and we said with 180 million or more Nigerians, will Nigeria ever come to rescue us! We lost hope.
“Sir, you surprised us. After seven months for us in the university and eight months for the 10 ladies, Nigeria rescued us. This shows that the life of every Nigerian is important and is worth rescuing.
“Sir, we are grateful. You gave us hope when there was no hope And we are excited, we thank you Sir.
“We also want to appreciate the DSS, the Nigerian armed forces, and the entire team that worked together to make sure we regained our freedom.’