Acting President Yemi Osinbajo says the 113 Chibok school girls still in Boko Haram custody will be released “very soon”.
Osinbajo said this on Tuesday when he received members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement at the presidential villa in Abuja.
On April 14, 2014, Boko Haram insurgents abducted 276 girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state.
The sect released 82 of the girls in May in a prisoner-swap deal with the federal government, and 21 were let go in October 2016.
But since then, little has been heard from the federal government concerning the 113 still in captivity.
Osinbajo, who was represented by Babafemi Ojudu, special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on political matters, said government’s silence is only strategic.
He reassured the group that government had been meeting with service chiefs concerning the abduction of the girls as well as others in Boko Haram custody and that efforts were being intensified to secure their release.
“I’ve been asked by the acting president to assure you of the support of the government concerning your agitation for the return of all the girls that were kidnapped by members of Boko Haram,” Ojudu said.
“He said he is fully with you, that he is recognising what you are doing and he is hearing you loud and clear.
“On the issue of the policewomen that are being held and even concerning the girls, on a daily basis, the acting president has been meeting with security chiefs and making contacts with negotiators across the world who have helped in the past to secure those that have been released.
“So we have not at any point forgotten these children who could be any of our children. The acting president has asked me to reassure you this afternoon, to tell you that he is with you and that your cries are his cries.
“And the fact that we are not coming out to say what is being done is strategic and also for security reasons. He also said I should tell you that very soon, more of the girls, if not all of them, all of them, will be brought back home.”
Earlier speaking, Oby Ezekwesili, co-convener of the group urged the government to restrategise its anti-terrorism approach to ensure that all the girls, as well as the policewomen and oil workers abducted by the sect, are released.
“We were of the conviction that the government, which managed to secure the release of 82 of them will also secure the release of the remaining 113,” she said.
“We thought that the government has figured a way to get back our girls so we estimated that the remaining 113 will return in lesser time it took the 82 to come home.
“If only one voice remains, that would continue to demand the release of our Chibok girls, it is good enough. It’s enough to re-echo our voice across the universe.”