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Nigeria Official Denies President Jonathan Chibok Visit

  • Peter Clottey

President Goodluck Jonathan opened Nigeria's National Conference with optimism this week. He appeared (above) at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

President Goodluck Jonathan opened Nigeria's National Conference with optimism this week. He appeared (above) at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

A senior official has sharply denied reports that President Goodluck Jonathan plans on Friday to visit Chibok, the place where over 200 school girls were abducted by violent Islamist militants, Boko Haram, last month.

Mike Omeri, the director general of Nigeria’s National Orientation Agency, and Coordinator of National Information Center decried what he says is the ongoing “misinformation” being peddled both locally and internationally to create tension and panic among the population.

“I am not sure of the report and its sources. As coordinator of the National information Center, I don’t have information; therefore I doubt its authenticity,” said Omeri.

“Since this incident started, lots of misinformation has been going on both local and international. And Nigerians are out there who are not part of what is happening at home are feeling agitated and worried,” said Omeri. “We have so many of such stories even in some of our local newspapers that are not true.”

Omeri says the administration in Abuja has established an information center to correct misinformation, which he says is creating apprehension among Nigerians at home and abroad.

“What we have done is to ensure the streamlining of information to serve as the only credible source to the people, available and put in place by the government Nigeria. So, what happens here is that any other agency engaging in this activity channels reports and outcomes to this center and it is further relayed to citizens,” said Omeri.

His comments came after several local and international news organizations reported that Mr. Jonathan planned to visit Chibok on Friday.

The government in Abuja has come under criticism for allegedly not doing enough to search for the girls following their abduction by the Boko Haram extremists. They also criticized the administration following reports that the administration initially refused international help to find the school girls.

Omeri disagreed saying the accusations against the president are untrue. He says the administration has put in measures, which he contends have led to the arrest of some suspected Boko Haram militants in a bid to find the abducted school girls.

“The government is doing its best within the capacity that it has at the moment. It has mobilized troops and has a division within the Nigerian army with two battalions stationed in the area working assiduously with citizens,” said Omeri. “The government is also mobilizing citizens to be aware, to be security conscious and to participate in the task of arresting this insurgency.”

Omeri says the government has stepped up efforts in search of the abducted school girls following what he says has been an intensified support from the international community.

“The international partners are being briefed. They are meeting with security agencies, and other organs of government. They are being briefed to engage in the [search],” said Omeri. “Let’s focus on the goal and not be distracted by irrelevances. I want to assure [people] that Nigeria and its government remains committed and is standing by the parents and standing with the students to ensure that they are back safely.”