The Presidency, on Monday, reminded agitators that government had been able to liberate from Boko Haram, thousands of women and children whose lives it said were as important as the abducted students.
In a reaction to an allegation made by the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) movement against President Muhammadu Buhari that he has failed to fulfill his election promises, the Presidency, in a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in Abuja, denied that it had not done enough to rescue the girls.
It enumerated government’s effort to tackle Boko Haram insurgency and the results obtained, calling on the group to cooperate with the administration.
The statement said: “This huge number of rescued women and children may not be prominent names and their disappearance may not have generated any massive media attention and campaign.
“However, their liberation is just as important as that of every other missing woman and child, and a testament to the devotion of our military personnel, who daily risk life and limbs in the effort to bring back every Nigerian citizen kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists.”
The statement rejected the assertion that Buhari has “broken all promises” made to the group about rescuing the missing Chibok girls and that the government had been “lackadaisical” in the rescue mission.
The Presidency appealed to the officials and members of the BBOG campaign group not to waiver in their support for the government in the war against terrorism and in the ongoing effort to free all Nigerian citizens held captive by the Boko Haram sect.
It pointed out that the past year of the administration had seen the Nigerian military step up bombardment of the Sambisa forest, a stronghold of the Boko Haram terrorist group, leading to the capture of hundreds of insurgents.
According to it, records from the Army show the rescue of no fewer than 15,000 captives, mostly women and children from the terrorists from February till date.
It said: “In addition, dozens of communities that were previously under the control of the terrorists have been liberated, allowing thousands of previously displaced citizens to return home and resume their normal lives.
“Thousands of these women and children freed from captivity have also been reunited with their families.”
The statement further noted that along with the ongoing efforts to rid the country of terrorists and terrorism, the Nigerian government was focused on the welfare and rehabilitation of rescued Nigerians, many of whom were found in a state of severe malnutrition and illness.
The Presidency added: “While their intentions are honourable, perhaps the BBOG leadership have not considered the collateral damage which must inevitably follow its riveting and dispiriting claim that the president has ‘broken all promises’ allegedly made to the group on this issue.
“Or that he has been “lackadaisical” in rescuing the Chibok girls. The Federal Government’s focus has always been to free the Chibok girls alive and unharmed.
“The president is conscious always about the fact that terrorism in Nigeria is part of a global phenomenon. Since coming to office, his response to it has been firm and well considered.
“President Buhari will never make bogus promises or play to the gallery. It is misleading of anyone to preach that the Chibok girls are within an easy grasp. If the military under the president knew where they are held, they will bring the Chibok girls home today.
“The Presidency is open to renew cooperation with the BBOG group, international bodies, religious groups, social workers and all others who are assisting in the field to ensure that those who have so far been rescued from Boko Haram captivity are given the support they need to make a full recovery and be reintegrated fully into society.