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Why we didn’t meet with President Jonathan— CHIBOK PARENTS

The twelve parents of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Wednesday, explained that they refused to meet President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja last Tuesday because they were not in the city at the instance of the Federal Government or any of its representatives.

They said they were in Abuja on the full understanding that they were coming to meet with Malala, an advocate of girl-child education.

Spokesperson of the Chibok community in Abuja, Mr. Dauda Iliya, who gave the explanation while briefing newsmen in Abuja, insisted that the parents and the five escaped girls did not come to Abuja at the instance of government and as such had no basis to meet with the President without the permission of other parents they left in Chibok.

He said: ‘‘The logistics and meeting between the 12 fathers and five girls and Malala were facilitated by Abuja Chibok Community and the Citizens platform of Bring-Back-Our-Girls with our consent and on trust, considering their sustained and focused advocacy to bring back our daughters.

“On behalf of these Chibok parents, we offer to Nigerians the facts as they are and to put the records straight and correct the erroneous impression making rounds in the media on the botched meeting with the President.

“These parents and escaped girls did not come to Abuja at the instance of government or its representatives for a meeting with Mr. President, but on the full understanding that they were coming to meet with Malala; an advocate of girl-child education and most importantly one who has suffered a similar fate as their daughters.

‘We were just 2% of the victims’
“In the course of the interactions with Malala, neither the parents nor the escaped girls asked for a meeting with the President or any government functionary, rather the narrative back home was to persistently ask why the President had not visited them in Chibok since the abduction.

“It is obvious that 12 fathers and five girls is about two percent of the parents of the 219 abducted girls still with their abductors and the 57 girls that escaped.

“Therefore, these parents decided on their own accord to review the announced visit, which they first heard of like every other person during Malala speech in Abuja.

“That consequent to their decision to revert to other family members to incorporate every stakeholder on the matter and avoid discord and suspicion on a change of plans from the original mission to Abuja, they reached out to the Malala team and through them to the Presidency; to request for a new date for an expanded and more representative meeting that has a legitimate mandate to meet with the President.’’

Iliya further explained that their request for such a meeting was also in recognition of the huge opportunity of a meeting with the President for the first time, adding that after over 90 days of the tragic abduction of their daughters, the situation required better consultations, structure and formality as against an instant advocacy request.

The group, however, described as misleading and unjust the accusation against the citizens’ platform, Bring-Back-Our-Girls, as being responsible for the decision made by the 12 parents and the Chibok community.

New meeting set
He said: “We take full responsibility for our decision and welcome the formal invitation by the Presidency as a follow up to Malala’s visit, which we received this morning.”

The meeting was arranged after education activist and a victim of terrorist attack, Malala Yousofazai, met with President Jonathan on Monday and pleaded with the President to meet with the parents of the abducted girls to encourage them.

Jonathan, in a statement delivered by his Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, accused the Bring-Back-Our-Girls activists of politicising the planned meeting by taking the parents out of Abuja before the meeting could hold.

According to the President’s statement, every arrangement had been made for the planned meeting with the President, including sending a bus from the Presidential Villa, to bring the parents of the girls before the meeting was botched.

Meanwhile, the Presidency has extended another invitation to them set for July 22 at the Aso Villa, which they accepted to honour.

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