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President Muhammadu Buhari has conceded that his government is yet to declare victory over the Boko Haram terrorist group until all the kidnapped Chibok school girls are rescued.
The president admitted this in a letter he wrote to Pakistani child rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, in which he offered explanations about the ongoing efforts to rescue the kidnapped girls.
A statement from the Ministry of Information said Mr. Buhari signed the letter on January 10, 2017, as a response to an earlier letter he received from Ms. Yousafzai.
In the letter, Mr. Buhari assured Ms. Yousafzai, who is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient, of the “doggedness, commitment and sincerity of the Nigeria’s Federal Government towards ensuring the safe return of the Chibok girls, and indeed all others still in captivity”.
But the statement, signed by Segun Adeyemi, an aide to the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed, said Mr. Buhari declined to “divulge the details of ongoing negotiations to secure the release of the girls due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations”.
The president said “in line with his pledge that Boko Haram will not be considered defeated without the rescue of the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by the insurgents, the military, the State Security Service and the other security agencies are intensifying their efforts to ensure freedom for all those who remain in captivity,” the statement said.
The reassurance is a notable breakaway from Mr. Buhari’s frequent declarations that the insurgents have been finally defeated.
One of such comments came when he delivered his Independence Day speech on October 1, 2016.
“On Security, we have made progress. Boko Haram was defeated by last December – only resorting to cowardly attacks on soft targets, killing innocent men, women and children,” Mr. Buhari said on that day.
In his letter to Ms. Yousafzai, the president also touched on the welfare of the 21 Chibok girls who regained their freedom on October 12, 2016, saying the government had taken over the responsibility for their personal, educational and professional goals and ambitions in life.
”They are being given comprehensive medical, nutritional and psychological care and support, and anyone who has seen them in recent times will attest to the fact that their reintegration back to the society is progressing well. The Federal Government believes that it is not too late for the girls to go back to school, and everything will be done to ensure that they continue the pursuit of their studies,” he said.
Mr. Buhari commended Ms. Malala for her continuing caring disposition towards the release of the girls who remain in captivity, and the welfare of the girls who have regaine their freedom, adding: ”There is no better example of the fact that we are all linked by our common humanity”.