United Nations, UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, has demanded the unconditional release of the over 200 Chibok girls, who were abducted by Boko Haram on April 14, 2014 at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
The UN scribe made the appeal yesterday when he addressed State House correspondents after he had a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ban, who is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria, commended Buhari who, he said, had embarked on an agenda for change where he was prioritising security and anti-corruption war.
He said the world was moved by the Chibok girls’fate, even as he expressed solidarity with Nigeria’s fight against terrorism and declared the UN’s preparedness to work with the Federal Government to tackle the menace.
Ban said: “This week will witness the 500 days of the kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls. I want to reiterate my support for the Chibok girls, and so many other innocent abducted girls and boys, whose names and fate remain unknown. It is intolerable that their lives and schooling have been disrupted in this way. The world has been moved by their fate.
“I once again call in the strongest possible terms on those responsible to unconditionally release these girls and the many other abducted children.
“Terrorism knows no bounds or boundaries. Today (yesterday) I laid a wreath in memory of some Nigerians and other victims.
“Now, more than ever, collaboration is indispensable in addressing this menace and in addressing these crimes. The President has led regional engagement efforts and I am hopeful for the rapid operationalisation of the Multinational Joint Task Force.
“In his inaugural speech, President Buhari eloquently recognised that human rights are an important part of the counter-insurgency response and that operations would be conducted with full respect for human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.
“At the same time, we know that a military approach alone will not be sufficient,” he said.
Ban also praised former President Goodluck Jonathan for conducting a peaceful election and ceding power to the winner, an act, he said, should be emulated by other countries in Africa.
The UN scribe, who is visiting the country for the second time, said he was in Nigeria to recognise such great achievements, greater stability and peace in the country under the leadership of President Buhari.
He congratulated Buhari on his election and Nigerians for conducting peaceful and credible elections, stressing that: “I hope this example will be emulated by many countries around the world and that this message of hope could be spread far and wide.”
While noting that Nigeria was at a moment facing complex challenges as well as a time of promise and hope, Ban said:
“I salute the statesmanship and example of both President Buhari and former President Goodluck Jonathan. For the first time in Nigeria’s history, a sitting President peacefully ceded power to an opposition candidate in a democratic election.
“The election sent a strong global message of respect for democracy and the rule of law.
“President Buhari has embarked on an agenda for change and I commend him highly for prioritising insecurity, anti-corruption and unemployment issues.
“My message is simple: The United Nations supports your efforts to advance hope, peace, sustainable development and human rights in a comprehensive way. I am convinced that when you change Nigeria, you also change Africa.”
Ban asserted that Nigeria had been a source of stability in West Africa and the continent being a key contributor to UN peacekeeping operations including the successful missions in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
On his discussion with Buhari, the UN chief said it covered development, human rights and peace and security as well as the troubling levels of violence and terror perpetrated by Boko Haram in the North-East zone.
He revealed that he discussed with Buhari his efforts at addressing the root causes of insurgency in the country by tackling socio-economic problems in the North-East, particularly the need to expand educational and employment opportunities for young people.
According to him, “the recent agreements by UN member-states on a new sustainable development agenda and on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda will provide further financing vehicles to help Nigeria achieve its agenda for change.
“The humanitarian situation in the North-East is particularly worrying. We are working with partners on the ground to scale up humanitarian operations.
“I congratulate President Buhari on the efforts to protect and uphold the rights of displaced persons,” he said.
In his remarks, President Buhari thanked his guest for his depth of appreciation of Nigeria’s problems, which, he observed, showed genuine interest of the international community to helping the country.
“We have discussed with him the difficulty time Nigeria finds itself; the destruction of infrastructure, especially in the North-East, the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the over 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, that have to be morally, physically and materially rehabilitated, and the efforts we think the UN Secretary-General can convey to the world body so Nigeria can be helped in the identified problems that we have,” he said.

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