The Presidency on Saturday reacted to the claim by Ahmed Salkida that only 15 out of the remaining 113 Chibok school girls in the captivity of the terrorists group, Boko Haram, are still alive.
Salkida, a Nigerian journalist based in Dubai who claimed to have been involved in the negotiations for the release of some of the girls, right from the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan, made the claim about the remaining Chibok girls in a number of tweets.
In the tweets that came on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the abduction of the girls, Salkida warned the government to ask for the proof of life of the girls in the course of its negotiation.
However, the Presidency has reacted, stating that it was not aware of the death of 98 of the Chibok girls in the captivity of the terrorists.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency also denied the involvement of Salkida in the negotiation that led to the release of the over 100 girls it had secured.
The Presidency said he was also not involved in the current bid to have the remaining girls freed.
The statement by Shehu reads: “Following the numerous press enquiries on the information contained in the series of tweets by Mr. Ahmed Salkida, we wish to reiterate that the information is not known to the officials of this administration either from the captors of the Chibok girls or the international intercessors who are working with us.
“We wish to confirm that Mr. Salkida is not involved, on behalf of the Nigerian government in the processes leading to the release of the over 100 Chibok Girls that have returned to their families, so far, and is not involved in the current processes to secure the release of those still held in captivity.’’
It would be recalled that the Presidency had on Friday reiterated its commitment to the release of the remaining Chibok girls, despite the number of years they have spent in captivity.
According to the statement by Garba Shehu, the major setback in the release of the remaining girls was the division between the factions of the terrorists group.
The Presidency said the parents should be full of hope that their children would return.
The statement reads: “We are concerned and aware that it is taking long to bring the rest of our daughters back home, but be assured that this administration is doing its very best to free the girls from their captors.
“Unfortunately, the negotiations between the government and Boko Haram suffered some unexpected setbacks, owing mainly to a lack of agreement among their abductors whose internal differences have led to a divergence of voices regarding the outcome of the talks.
“We know that this is not the news parents want to hear after four whole years of waiting, but we want to be as honest as possible with you.
“However, this government is not relenting. We will continue to persist, and the parents should please not give up.
”Don’t give up hope of seeing our daughters back home again. Don’t lose faith in this government’s ability to fulfill our promise of reuniting you with our daughters.
“Don’t imagine for a moment that we have forgotten about our daughters or that we consider their freedom a lost course.’’