Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
…Says 107 girls were released
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday promised to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram sect who are ready to drop their arms and embrace peace.
Buhari made the promise at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while receiving girls who were abducted from their school in Dapchi, Yobe State, and were released on Wednesday.
“While further efforts are being made to secure the release of every abducted citizen in Nigeria, government is ever ready to accept the unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group who shows strong commitment in that regard.
“We are ready to rehabilitate and integrate such repentant members into the larger society.
“This country has suffered enough of hostility. Government is therefore appealing to all to embrace peace for the overall development of our people and the country.”
The President announced that a total of 107 students previously abducted have been unconditionally released by their abductors.
He said the unconditional release signified his administration’s commitment to the security and wellbeing of all Nigerians.
He said he was never in doubt about his administration’s focus and direction since his assumption of office.
He restated his position that security, anti-corruption and revamping of the nation’s economy remain the main focus of his government.
Buhari added, “You will recall that on 14th of this month, I paid a visit to Yobe State, during which I sympathised with the parents, families, government and people of the state for the tragic abduction of the students in Dapchi.
“I made a solemn pledge on my word of honour that this administration would do everything possible to ensure the unconditional release of the girls.
“I further tasked all the appropriate security agencies to safely bring back the girls. We also reached out to our contacts at home and abroad. We embarked on backchannel shuttles with a clear view to bring to an end this tragedy.
“We entered into negotiations solely to make sure that no single girl was hurt. This strategy paid off, as the girls have been released without any incidents.
“Let me re-emphasise our administration’s commitment to the fight against terrorism and insurgency, and also call on all Nigerians to join in this task.”
Buhari assured the rescued students that they will freely live and pursue their dreams in Nigeria of peace and order, without fear of violence or molestation.
While parents of the Dapchi girls rejoice because of the reunion with their children, the President appealed to the Chibok Community never to lose hope or to despair.
He assured them that he is determined, as never before, to bring back the remaining Chibok girls, adding “and this, we must accomplish. And that will be soon by God’s grace.”
The President thanked all Nigerians who, in spite of political differences, prayed and showed solidarity with families of the abducted pupils during the period of the abduction.
This, he said, undoubtedly was the Nigerian spirit.
“We can and should sustain it beyond moments of sorrow. I remain thankful to the International Community and our friends who offered varying degrees of assistance during the backchannel communications.
“May I, on behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, extend our appreciation to the security agencies for their loyal and tireless efforts in making this day a reality,” he concluded.
Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja