Controversy Over Jonathan’s ‘Cancelled’ Trip To Chibok

PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN

Contrary to the widely reported plan by President Goodluck Jonathan to visit Chibok in Borno State Friday to meet with some of the parents of the over 200 abducted female students of the Government Secondary School (GSS) in the town, the Presidency said there was nothing like that.
Stating the Presidency’s position Friday, the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the President, Reuben Abati said the only trip that was officially known on the President’s itinerary was a trip to Paris, where the President is expected to join other regional African leaders today to proffer solutions to the festering terrorism in the region. He left Abuja Friday in the afternoon.

According to his statement on Thursday, Abati had said the President would be accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Lt-Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd.); the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.) as well as other principal aides and advisers, and will return to Abuja at the conclusion of the summit Saturday.

“It is also expected that Britain, the United States of America and the European Union will be represented at the talks, which will give special attention to the coordination and intensification of efforts to curtail the destabilizing activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries in the wake of the recent abduction of college girls from Chibok, Borno State,” Abati said.

But speculation was rife on Thursday about the President’s purported trip to Chibok, which was sourced from a foreign news agency. However, no Presidency official confirmed the story, which prompted the denial by Abati.

“Every trip by the President is usually pre-announced. The Presidency did not at any time announce a trip to Chibok today. Ignore rumours.

“The statement issued by my office yesterday indicated very clearly that the President is scheduled to travel to Paris today. It is therefore wrong and malicious to allege that a non-existent trip has been cancelled,” Abati added.

However, despite the denial, it was gathered that a Presidential Advance team actually left the villa for Maiduguri, Borno State on Thursday.

Government House sources in Maiduguri yesterday said that the postponement

of the President’s official visit to the state, could be due to other important engagements that coincided with yesterday’s alleged planned visit to Chibok.

We learnt that as early as 6am yesterday, the Airport Road leading to the Nigerian Air Force Base, and the Government House, Maiduguri, were heavily manned by security operatives, including soldiers and policemen. However, they withdrew by 9.35am when the cancellation of the visit was rumoured in metropolis.

Governor Kashim Shettima who had to rush back to Maiduguri in a chartered flight from Abuja, and landed at the Maiduguri International Airport at about 9am, but declined to comment on the cancellation of the Presidential visit to Chibok.

He drove straight to Government House along with the Secretary to the state government, Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda.

Although, no official reason for the cancellation was given, Government Houses sources said: “It may be connected with Jonathan’s planned visit to France for security meeting slated for today (Friday).”

A prominent leader from Chibok who pleaded anonymity told The Guardian in an a telephone interview yesterday: “Yes, we received an information from the state government that Mr. President is no longer visiting Chibok, until further notice. Already, we have informed our people, including the parents of the abducted schoolgirls who had earlier gathered at the town hall waiting for Mr. President. With this information, I urged them to disperse and go back to their respective houses and communities. As I am talking to you now, I am also on my way back to Maiduguri.”

Source: The Nigeria Guardian

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