By Nazifi Haruna
The #Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group has given its condition for accepting a tour to Sambisa Forest offered to the group by the Nigerian government.
In a letter to the government, the group said that it would be prepared to participate in the “guided tour” to Sambisa Forest if the government invites them to a “pre-tour meeting” to discuss issues ahead of the visit.
“Our members unanimously agreed that the Movement is open to exploring the opportunity for a visit to the North-East theatre of war as presented in your invitation. However, before proceeding with further discussions on the proposed visit, we propose a pre-tour meeting to discuss pertinent issues that will help inform our decision to proceed.
“We believe that this prior meeting would help provide first-hand knowledge of, and answers to questions that our movement wishes to raise ahead of the guided visit.
We propose that participants at the meeting be the National Security Adviser to the President and the other officials of government indicated in your letter. These are: 1. The Minister of Defence, 2. The Chief of Army Staff, and 3. The Chief of Air Forces,” the letter read in part.
However, the campaigners also demanded an apology from the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai for allegedly hosting a meeting with an unnamed group in which the BBOG group was accused of “engaging in social terrorism”
“Furthermore, we wish to raise a matter critical to our proposed meeting. Only two days ago, the Federal Government owned News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) widely reported, through the mass media, that during a visit to the Army Headquarters by a certain group which was received by the Chief of Army Staff, our Movement was attacked for engaging in “social advocacy terrorism.”
“It is puzzling that the reported said visit happened less than forty-eight hours before our Movement received your letter asking us to travel in the company of the same Chief of Army Staff to Sambisa Forest.
“We demand therefore that ahead of the pre-tour meeting we have proposed herein, that the Chief of Army Staff retracts and apologizes for endorsing such slanderous attacks against our Movement #BringBackOurGirls and specifically at some of our leaders.
“Such a step would communicate that it is with goodwill that the Federal Government is asking us to entertain the visit proposed in your letter. For 990 days, our Movement has singularly advocated for the return of our Chibok daughters who were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, on April 14, 2014 by Boko Haram during an insurgency that has raged in North-Eastern Nigeria for over eight years. For nearly three years, our movement has demonstrated the utmost decorum and civility by ensuring that our advocacy follows due process and upholds the core values that we developed early on in our campaign.
“We assure you that we shall remain on the path of our core values of Hope, Unity, Motivation, Affability, Nationalism, Integrity, Transparency, Empathy, Equity, Discipline, and Sacrifice. We are available to attend the pre-tour meeting we have proposed as soon as we receive a date from you.
“We look forward to receiving your reply at your earliest convenience to enable us adequately plan for our members that will attend the pre-tour meeting with you and your designated colleagues,” the letter added.