Buhari admits ignorance about location and condition of Chibok girls

Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday the Federal Government has no reliable information or intelligence on the whereabouts of the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped last year by Boko Haram.

Speaking to a panel of journalists during his first presidential media chat, Buhari said the Nigerian government was willing and ready to negotiate with the terrorist group without any preconditions in order to retrieve the girls.

“The honest truth is that I don’t know the actual place and state of the girls. The more reason we are trying to be very careful before we negotiate with any group. Before we negotiate with any group, we must make sure they show us the actual location of the girls. We must make sure they are complete,” Buhari said during the live, televised event in Nigeria’s capital Abuja. “We are looking for a credible Boko Haram leadership that will convince us that the girls are here and alive.”

Boko Haram militants descended on a boarding school in northeast Nigeria on the night of April 14, 2014. By morning, the militant group had herded 276 schoolgirls into trucks and vanished behind the forest brush in the town of Chibok.

Some of the girls have managed to escape on their own since then, but over 200 are still missing, and government search efforts have been unsuccessful despite a global social media campaign and pleas from international leaders.

Buhari, who took office in late May, said rescuing the Chibok girls and securing the country was among his administration’s top priorities.

He insisted his government has made some headway. “I assure you that some progress has been made on the ground,” Buhari said Wednesday during the presidential media chat.

“Our main problem is to secure this country so people can come and do business without being abducted, without being killed,” Buhari said Wednesday.

The former military ruler defended a previous statement he made that  Boko Haram had been “technically” defeated, saying the Islamic extremist group is capable of no more than suicide bombings on soft targets. But these attacks have proven to be extremely deadly, he warned.

He also spoke about former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), accused of diverting money appropriated to fight insurgency; and leader of the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

The President accused Kanu of having two passports – one Nigerian, one British – and coming into the country without using any passport.

He equally dismissed the agitation for a Biafra State, saying the Igbo are not marginalised in the present day Nigeria.

He said Igbo were in strategic positions in his cabinet, including being Ministers of Petroleum and Labour and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Buhari accused Dasuki of committing atrocities against Nigeria through reckless disbursement of billions of government funds.

Asked on the alleged flouting of court orders by the state on the issue of Dasuki and Kanu, Buhari said: “Technically, if you see the kind of atrocities those people committed… if they jump bail?

“I am sorry to say this publicly…the former president just wrote to the governor of the CBN and said give N40 billion to someone, while you have two million Internally Displaced Persons.

“What kind of country do you want to run?

“The one you called Kanu, do you know he has two passports?

“One Nigerian, one British and he came to this country without using any passport?

“Do you know that he brought sophisticated equipment into this country and started broadcasting for Radio Biafra?

“There is a treasonable charge against him and I hope the court will listen to the case.

“They say they are marginalised but they have not defined the extent of marginalisation.

“Who is marginalising them?


“Do you know?

“Choosing a minister is not a matter of ethnicity, it is a matter of the constitution.

“I am limited by what the constitution says that there must be a member of the executive council from each state.

“There is a lot of partisan politics in it.

“Who is the Minister of State for Petroleum?

“Is he not an Igbo?

“Who is the governor of the CBN?

“Is he not an Igbo?

“Who is the Minister of Labour?

“Who is the Minister of Science and Technology?

“What do they want?

“I stood elections and I won.

“I am limited by the constitution.

“I have a member of every state in the Federal Executive Council and I have to listen to them when I sit as chairman.

“That is the limit the constitution gave me.”