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Published On: Sat, May 10th, 2014

FBI Set to Join Hunt for Chibok Schoolgirls

Chibok girls

LAGOS MAY 10TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Agents from the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), possibly from the New York field office, will reportedly join a US team heading to Nigeria to help find the 200 plus abducted schoolgirls, even as President Goodluck Jonathan told participants at the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in Abuja yesterday that the kidnapping of the students would mark the beginning of the end of terrorism in the country.
If the FBI gets the go-ahead of the US government to come to Nigeria, they will be joining seven military personnel, who the Cable News Network (CNN) reported yesterday, are expected to arrive the country today.

This is just as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill and Melinda Gates, Aliko Dangote, Mo Ibrahim, Ted Turner and Francois-Henri Pinault, among other eminent business, civil society and religious leaders joined the global call for urgent action and resources to find and free the schoolgirls who were kidnapped from Secondary School, Chibok, by members of Boko Haram almost four weeks ago.
They were joined by former First Lady of the US, Hillary Clinton, who for the second time this week described the abduction as “abominable”, “criminal” and “an act of terrorism.”
She also urged the federal government to accept international help to assist in finding the girls.
On the involvement of the FBI in the search for the girls, a law enforcement source, who opened up on the US deployment to Nigeria, told Sky News that the bureau had offered to take part.
The source said the agents were likely to come from the New York FBI field office, which has the responsibility for that part of the world. It is also the main counter-terror operations unit.
The US had announced this week that military personnel and law enforcement officials with expertise in hostage negotiations would be sent as soon as possible to assist the Nigerian government in the search.
State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said the offer of assistance was welcomed by Jonathan.
US President Barack Obama said the kidnapping could be “the event that helps to mobilise the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organisation (Boko Haram)”.
“It’s a heartbreaking situation, outrageous situation,” the US president told US broadcaster ABC.
Yesterday, Obama spoke again on the abducted girls, stating: “Everyday when I wake up, I think of the school girls in Nigeria or the children in Syria, makes me want to reach out to save those kids.”
Beginning of the End for Terrorists
Also speaking on the kidnapping, Jonathan declared yesterday that the abduction in Borno State had triggered global attention and support for Nigeria, affirming that the development would mark the beginning of the end of terror in the country.
In his address at the ongoing 24th World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in Abuja, he said the girls’ kidnapping had ignited global outrage against the terrorists, noting that the US, Britain, China and France, among others had offered support for Nigeria in freeing the girls.
The president said the current global support for Nigeria in the fight against terror would mark the beginning of the end of the reign of terror in the country, and applauded the over 1,000 delegates from 70 countries participating at the forum for their resolve to be part of the event in Nigeria in spite of the security challenges.
“Let me thank all of you for coming to Nigeria at this trying time when we are facing terrorist attacks. Your coming here to support us is a blow on the terrorists.
“Let me also thank all the countries that have expressed commitment to help us rescue the abducted girls. Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande and other world leaders have spoken with me; we appreciate their commitment to help us put an end to the crisis,” he said.
Jonathan said had the global participants decided not to come out of fear, it would have emboldened the purveyors of terror to up their game, noting that by participating, a major blow had been dealt on terrorism in Nigeria.
He said although terrorism was a strange phenomenon in Nigeria with its complexities, the country was gradually ramping up capacity to confront the ill, adding that in the long run, the nation would overcome.
42 Eminent Figures Urge Global Effort to Free Girls
Meanwhile, a group of 42 eminent persons from around the world has called for a global effort to free the more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped last month.
In an open letter published yesterday, the high-level group of business, civil society and religious leaders called on the Nigerian authorities and the international community to mobilise all necessary resources and expertise to help locate and free the missing girls.
The letter reads: “On April 14, more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted at gunpoint from Chibok community in Borno State, Nigeria. Twenty-four days later, the girls are still missing.
“We urge all local, national and regional governments, with the full support of the international community, to dedicate their expertise and resources – from satellite imagery to intelligence services to multinational corporations’ supply chains to #BringBackOurGirls.”
The letter was signed by Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and member of the Elders; Mohamed Azab, representative of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar; Aïcha Bah Diallo, Chairperson of the Forum of African Women Educationalists; Ela Bhatt, Founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India and member of the Elders; Bono, Co-founder, ONE; and Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group and co-Chair of the B Team.
Other signatories included Gro Harlem Brundtland, Executive Chair of the UN Foundation and member of the Elders; Susan A Buffett, Chairman of The Sherwood Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund; Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the UN Foundation and B Team Leader; President Fernando H Cardoso, former President of Brazil and member of the Elders; Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand; and Aliko and Halima Dangote, Dangote Group.
Bineta Diop, African Union Special Envoy for Women Peace and Security; Andrew Forrest, Founder of the Walk Free Foundation; Bill and Melinda Gates, co-Founders and co-Chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Helene Gayle, President and CEO of CARE USA; Mort Halperin, Senior Advisor to the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Policy Center; Arianna Huffington, Chair, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, and B Team leader; Mo and Hadeel Ibrahim, Mo Ibrahim Foundation; and Abdoulie Janneh, former Executive-Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, also appended their signatures to the letter.
Others were Guilherme Leal, co-Founder of Natura and B Team Leader; Graça Machel, member of the Elders; Mark Malloch-Brown, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder of Econet Wireless and B Team Leader; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women; Amina J Mohamed, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advisor; Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana, Chairperson of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa; Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of NewsCorp and Chairman and CEO of 21st Century Fox; Jay Naidoo, Chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition; and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister of Nigeria
Other eminent persons who signed the letter were: Ronald Perelman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.; François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and CEO of Kering and B Team Leader; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and B Team Leader; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and member of the Elders; Salim Ahmed Salim, former Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity; Toyin Saraki, Founder of the Wellbeing Foundation; Bobby Shriver, Co-founder and Chairman of (PRODUCT) RED and Co-founder of DATA; Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Bishop-Chancellor, Pontifical Academy of Sciences, The Vatican; Ted Turner, Founder and Chairman of the UN Foundation and Founder of CNN; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, honorary member of the Elders; Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and B Team Leader; President Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico and member of the Elders; and Jochen Zeitz, former Chairman and CEO of PUMA and co-Chair of the B Team.
Vatican, Clinton Condemn Kidnapping
Similarly, Hillary Clinton for the second time this week spoke on the schoolgirls’ abduction and described it as “abominable”, “criminal” and “an act of terrorism.”
Speaking yesterday in New York during an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, the former US Secretary of State said the Nigerian government had been “somewhat derelict in its responsibility” to protect children, adding, “They need to make it a priority.”
She insisted: “The Nigerian government must accept help. It’s horrible, Robin, it’s horrible.”
Last Sunday, Clinton had also tweeted her support of the effort to find the girls.
She was joined by the Vatican, which yesterday appealed for the release of the girls.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi condemned the “terrorists” and said it was “the latest of the horrible acts of violence that have characterised the activity of this group in Nigeria for a long time”.
“The total lack of respect for life and for human dignity, including for the most innocent, vulnerable and defenceless people demands an extremely firm condemnation,” Lombardi said on Vatican radio.
“This evokes compassion filled with sadness for the victims, horror for the spiritual and physical suffering and for the incredible humiliations that they are being subjected to,” Lombardi added.
Buhari Hails International Support
In a related development, former military Head of State, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, condemned the abduction of the schoolgirls and thanked the international community for rallying round Nigeria to assist in finding the students.
In a statement he personally signed, Buhari said: “Over the past few weeks, the abduction of the school girls at Chibok, Borno State, has underscored the threat we have been facing as a nation in recent times from the actions of misguided persons masquerading as adherents of Islam.
“Our hearts are with families who have lost loved ones in this cycle of senseless violence. We also empathise with the parents of children whose daughters are in the custody of a group of anarchists.
“That horrific video posted on the internet is a clear manifestation of the mindlessness of the bigots. It shows them for whom they are, such men cannot threaten nor should they be allowed to violate our sovereignty.
“It is clear from what they profess that they are not followers of God. They do not mean well for our country and her citizens. I am a Muslim, I am versed in the teachings of Christianity and I understand both religions to seek peaceful co-existence of all humanity.”
He maintained that there was no justification whatsoever for the unrestrained disregard for the sanctity of human life, adding that it has no place in the Holy Quran and “neither does it have a place in the Holy Bible”.
“Let these people know that the entire civilized world is united against their terrorist act. We are grateful to the world for standing by Nigeria at this trying time. We hope and pray that the young ladies will be reunited with their respective families in the days to come.
“While the federal government and the nation’s armed forces are working to ensure citizens’ safety under the present situation, we believe that more could still be done to ensure the safety of Nigerians and the Nigerian nation.
“We are therefore glad that the federal government has accepted international support in the search for the missing girls and for an end to the insurgency in parts of the country.”
He warned that this was not the time to play politics nor was it the time to trade blame and amplify the country’s ideological differences,” adding: “The unity of Nigeria is not negotiable and nothing should divide us as a people.”
NSA, Service Chiefs Visit Chibok
However, as countries and people all over the world rally support for the rescue of the kidnapped girls, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), in the company of the service chiefs and Inspector General of Police (IG) yesterday visited Government Secondary School (GSS), Chibok on a fact-finding mission.
This was the first time high-calibre security personnel visited the Borno Local Government Area since the girls’ abduction almost a month ago.
Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major General Chris Olukolade, disclosed this yesterday, saying the security chiefs inspected the school facilities.
According to Olukolade, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, while fielding questions from journalists on the actual number of the missing girls, insisted he would not want to comment on the issue of numbers.
He noted that every single life is important to the nation and no effort would be spared in finding the girls.
The spokesman appealed to the members of the immediate community and the general public to provide security agencies with useful information that could lead to the rescue of the girls.
“The team was conducted round the school by the Vice-Principal Administration, Bulama Modu,” he said.
Olukolade said some of the facilities inspected included burnt classrooms, dormitories and laboratories. He also revealed that the team returned to Abuja Thursday.


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