The Presidency has dismissed Ahmed Salkida’s latest information that only 15 of the remaining 113 abducted Chibok schoolgirls in captivity of Boko Haram were believed to be alive.
Sakilda, a Nigerian journalist believed to be based in Dubai and self-acclaimed negotiator in the Chibok girls saga, had made this disclosure in a series of tweets posted on his handle, @ContactSalkida, on Saturday.
He said the 15 surviving girls had been married off, “indoctrinated and might no longer be interested in returning home.
Salkida, who claimed to be part of the negotiating team for the release of the girls since the era of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, enjoined the Buhari administration to “demand for proof of life, as it carries out negotiations to secure the release of the remaining girls still in captivity”.
However, Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, debunked Salkida’s claims in a statement in Abuja on Saturday.
The presidential aide stated that Salkida was neither involved in the processes that resulted in the release of the over 100 Chibok girls nor in the ongoing efforts to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls in captivity.
He said: “Following the numerous press enquiries on the information contained in the series of tweets by Mr Ahmed Salkida, we wish to reiterate that the information is not known to the officials of this administration either from the captors of the Chibok girls or the international intercessors who are working with us.
“We wish to confirm that Mr Salkida is not involved, on behalf of the Nigerian government in the processes leading to the release of the over 100 Chibok Girls that have returned to their families, so far, and is not involved in the current processes to secure the release of those still held in captivity.’’
It would be recalled that President Buhari had on Friday reassured the parents of the schoolgirls that were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno, that “their daughters will never be forgotten or abandoned to their fate”.
The President, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja, noted that in spite of the four long years since they were taken away by terrorists, the government would continue its efforts to ensure their safe return to their respective homes.
He joined the Borno government, parents of the children and Nigerians in commemorating the fourth anniversary of the sad incident.
He also noted that the recovery of more than 100 of the girls that were kidnapped through the Federal Government’s determined effort should give confidence that all “hope is not lost”.
The President re-affirmed that the government remained focused and determined to see the girls return to their homes.
He therefore, urged the parents to be expectant of more good news in due course.
“We are concerned and aware that it is taking long to bring the rest of our daughters back home, but be assured that this administration is doing its very best to free the girls from their captors.
“Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks, owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.
“We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you.
“However, this government is not relenting. We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up.
”Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfill our promise of reuniting you with our daughters.
“Don’t imagine for a moment that we have forgotten about our daughters or that we consider their freedom a lost course,’’ the President said.
According to him, as long as he remains the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces the Chibok girls will never be forgotten and all will be done to have them reunited with their families.