National Information Centre (NIC) on Wednesday refuted a report suggesting that it turned down Australia’s offer to send its Special Air Services (SAS) to help in finding the abducted Chibok secondary schoolgirls.
Coordinator of NIC, Mr. Mike Omeri who led other members of the Centre during the regular media briefing on efforts to find the girls and combat terrorism said, “as far as I’m concerned, so far, it is still within the realm of newspaper speculations. Maybe, they have another source which is not known to us.”
Agency sources had quoted the Australian Foreign Minister, Ms Julie Bishop had told Sky News that her country made the offer but aside getting a thank you, Nigeria was yet to accept the offer.
Omeri however, said Nigeria would consider any fair offer of help either in locating and rescuing the girls or in combating terrorism in the country.
“At the moment, I’ m aware that the Arch Bishop of Canterbury is in Nigeria, the Pope has spoken about it and some other local and international leaders have been speaking about it. Do not forget, this is Nigeria which is a free country and we are not going to tag this insurgency as religious.
“What we are after is a nationalistic approach to the unfortunate situation. Nigeria is also a member of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the organisation has a responsibility to this country,” he added.
On whether Government would consider the option of negotiating with Boko Haram over the girls’ release, the Director General of National Orientation Agency (NOA) said, “Government is totally committed and focussed towards ensuring that our beloved girls are brought back from captivity safe and sound and therefore, all options along the line of international best practices are open to resolving the impasse.”
The NIC appealed to individuals and organisations to assist Federal Government in providing relief materials to displaced and distressed Nigerians affected by insurgencies both in the North East and North Central parts of the country.
“We appeal to spirited individuals and corporate organisations who wish to donate relief materials to get in contact with this Centre (NIC) and/ or NEMA immediately or reach the following phone numbers: 080022556362; 08032003555.”
Already, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has delivered relief materials to Chibok, Gamboru, parts of Yobe State, Kano and Jos “and is currently mobilising for Mubi, as well as Kalabalge.
Omeri assured Nigerians that efforts were ongoing to rescue the girls, adding that, “it would not be in the interest of operations to disclose every detail, but people must be assured that citizens will be briefed appropriately as developments unfold in this regard.”