Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, has been accused of lying about the 10 rescued Chibok girls currently in the United States of America.
Lawyer to the girls, Emmanuel Ogebe, leveled the allegation in a detailed statement issued in Washington DC USA and made available to News Express by e-mail. He wrote in the statement dated September 12, 2016:
My attention was drawn to a press conference held by the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, recently in which she claimed to be coming to the rescue of Chibok girls in the US. The Minister alleged that some Chibok girls were taken to the US “under the guise” of going to school but that they were instead kept by “one Emmanuel” and were never in school. The Minister’s defamatory comments are demonstrably deceptive and intentionally false as can easily be seen in the following:
1. Hajiya Aisha claims no contact was made with the government of Nigeria before the 10 Chibok girls in our programme were sponsored to the US. The girls left for US in 2014. Senator Aisha was nominated a government Minister in 2015, more than a year after they departed for the US. She has no competence to speak on what transpired before she came into office. Thus obviously her statements were false.
2. In September 2015, one of the Chibok girls was invited by a former Prime Minister of UK to speak during the UN General Assembly. As a courtesy, we went to pay our respect to President Buhari who was himself also in New York for UNGASS. The SSA to the wife of the President mentioned to us that another set of Chibok girls had come to see her before their departure to US in 2015. At the time the president’s entourage was in New York, Hajiya Aisha had not even become a Minister so again she could not speak authoritatively to what preceded her appointment.
3. In October, diplomats of the embassy visited the girls in both schools they were attending.
4. Prior to now, the girls had visited the embassy of Nigeria on multiple occasions:
a. In November 2014 on a courtesy call to the head of chancery.
b. In April 2015 to obtain a replacement passport for one of the girls who lost her passport
c. In June 2015 when they were hosted to lunch by the ambassador late Prof. Adefuye
Again, the Minister would not have the competence to speak to this as she was still litigating her ill-fated bid to govern Taraba State.
5. In March 2016, the Minister and myself were scheduled panelists at the United Nations Consultation on the Status of Women in New York where her ministry had invited me to speak on the issue of Chibok girls. I was duly accredited by both the consulate of Nigeria and the United Nation as a resource person.
6. In April 2016, I was invited to Nigeria to present a briefing to the presidency on the Chibok girls at Aso Rock Presidential Villa where we gave a status report of the girls’ performance after two years.
7. I visited Chibok parents in the North-east including Mr. Paul Ali and presented to him a photo album of his daughter’s scholastic and other activities.
8. Mr. Ali gave an interview to the media team accompanying US ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers and spoke glowingly of how well his daughter was doing in school in the US.
9. A member of the cabinet recommended I see the Minister of Women’s Affairs as she was responsible for Chibok girls’ issues. However even though I attended a CSO roundtable at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Hajiya Aisha was still abroad for medical treatment.
Accordingly, it is not only abundantly clear that the current administration is fully aware that the girls are in US schools before and after the Minister was appointed but it is also quite clear that I am not an unknown person but have been actively engaged on providing updates to various levels of government at home and abroad including the US Congress, the United Nations and the FGN.
The Minister’s bizarre allegations raise the question whether she is simply guilty of ignorance or whether she is executing a script by intentionally misleading the general public and the media with her blatant false remarks.
While we note that the minister has been absent from her office for several months due to her ill-health, one would have expected she would be properly briefed to avoid embarrassing the government of Nigeria with these obvious lies she has peddled to the public. However, it appears that this is not mere incompetence or laziness but a carefully orchestrated campaign of deceit.
1. According to the Minister, she was directed by the president to go and meet the Chibok parents. Since the president of Nigeria knows and was fully aware that the Chibok girls were in school, the only logical conclusion is that he either failed to properly brief his Minister of the truth or the president intentionally withheld the truth from her in furtherance of a hidden agenda. Whether the Minister goofed in doing her basic homework or whether she was set up by the president, it is clear that this major blunder has only portrayed the government in the eyes of the reasoning public as being dubious, ill-informed, uninformed, mis-informed or untrustworthy.
2. According to the Minister, she just discovered on Friday September 9 that there were five additional Chibok girls in the US apart from the 10 I brought to US schools. Again this is a deeply damning and self-incriminating statement. It reveals the government of Nigeria not only doesn’t know where the abducted 218 Chibok girls are but they do not know where the 56 escaped Chibok girls are either. This is a major embarrassment for Nigeria to announce to the world without any sense of shame that two years after their escape, the FGN has misplaced, lost track or doesn’t know the whereabouts of the escaped girls. This is all the more disconcerting as the FGN has collected millions of dollars from Japan, UK, US and others because of the Chibok girls’ abductions and till date has not sponsored a single escaped girl back to school.
We have a lot more information on those who have really taken advantage of the situation. However, in view of the ongoing Sallah holiday, we want to give an opportunity to those who may have erred in their conduct, whether by omission or commission to use the time for sober reflection, repentance and course correction and behavioral change.
Indeed it is a key tenet of the Islamic religion to provide assistance to the poor. For those who have despised and disparaged our assistance to the poor Chibok girls, be advised that he who gives to the poor lends to God. Our recognition and reward comes from Him. If you deny it, it doesn’t change the divinity of the generosity and you may well attract wrath upon yourselves.
Once again, we call on the Government of Nigeria to use the Sallah break to seek how best to release the girls in Sambisa, how to resuscitate an economy in recession, how to recover its rapidly dwindling goodwill at home and abroad and to stop creating chaos and confusion for victims, activists and humanitarians, including the BBOG movement which is similarly under siege by this administration.
We wish the good people of Nigeria a Happy Sallah and wish the Minister quick recovery.
BELOW IS A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE MINISTER’S COMMENTS AS PRESENTED IN THE MEDIA
Foundation takes over sponsorship of 10 Chibok girls studying in U.S.
The Federal Government announced on Friday that the Murtala Muhammed Foundation has taken over full sponsorship of five out of the 10 students of Government Secondary School (GSS) Chibok, Borno, currently studying in the US.
FGN announced the takeover of sponsorship of the Chibok girls in US since May 2016. After about three months, they have failed to maintain this and have abdicated this responsibility by having another organization takeover unless this was the grand design from the very beginning.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, made this known shortly after meeting with parents of the girls in Maiduguri. Alhassan said that the Foundation took over the sponsorship after it was approached by government, explaining that the girls were part of the 10 taken to the U.S. by some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) on the guise of taking them to school.
While we maintained 12 girls in the US for two years, the whole FGN is unable to maintain seven girls in the US for just three months and went begging for help from Murtala Mohammed Foundation.
She said “what happened was that the girls escaped from Boko Haram captivity and returned home to Chibok. “But some NGOs and religious organisations approached the parents with offers to take them away from the area due to the trauma.”
The FGN specifically mentions that it was a religious organization thus exposing its hidden religious agenda.
Alhassan added that the parents accepted to release the girls without notifying government and that the NGOs took the girls to US on the guise of sending them to school. “Government was not part of the arrangement because nobody was contacted,” the minister said.
The current administration was not in power when the girls left in 2014 so the minister is straight out lying when she says no one was contacted. More so the minister herself has been out of her office on sick leave abroad for several months this year.
She, however, said that the parents petitioned the Federal Government that they had received negative reports on the girls. “The parents sent information to government that they heard that the girls were not in school in the U.S. and that government should intervene in the matter.
How did the parents in remote Chibok receive such information on happenings which did not come from the girls if it didn’t come from the embassy of Nigeria?
“We investigated the matter through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Embassy in the US and found it to be true. “Our investigations corroborated the parents’ claim that the girls were not taken to school, rather, they were being used by the NGOs to make money.
Please view EXHIBIT A picture of Nigerian Embassy official while on visitation to Chibok girls in school in October 2015 proving that the Minister flat out lied. Secondly, the Embassy school visit photo was taken in October 2015 but the parents’ alleged “petition” was in May 2016 (six months after the Embassy visited the school.)
“But government does not take responsibility over someone else mistake.” Alhassan said President Muhammadu Buhari ordered her to meet with the parents over the issue, “so, I have come here to meet with the parents and we have discussed, I have told them the options available.
If government doesn’t take responsibility, why did they take responsibility which was announced on NTA news in May 2016? This means the government has once again taken one step forward and two steps backward in the on-going masquerade festival of policy summersault, promise annulment and all round miasmic confusion.
Why is the Minister only now discussing options with the parents after the government has already taken action? Action before analysis is a symptom of poor governance.
“What we can do is to talk to some donor agencies that we are working with so that they can take up the sponsorship of the girls. “Consequently, I am happy to say that the Murtala Muhammad Foundation has taken over the sponsorship of five out of the 10 girls. “They have found schools for them and they are doing well.”
The FGN is begging donors to help them sponsor the expenses of girls whom FGN took out of their scholarship schools to expensive schools. In other words, the minister is using the Chibok girls to raise money to sponsor them in school.
She noted that the remaining five girls were still in the custody of two individuals in the US, saying “we understood that a white man has two of the girls, while one Emmanuel, a Nigerian, is keeping three, also in the US.”
After the combined investigation of the Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the minister concluded that one “white man” has two girls in a country of over 60 million Whites.
Alhassan said that the Murtala Muhammad Foundation had also signified interest in taking the two girls from the white man. “We spoke with Aisha Muhammad, the Chairperson of the Foundation and she agreed to take over the sponsorship of the two girls with the white man.
The Minister in using a racial statement to describe the whereabouts of the two girls, intentionally avoids the fact that they are at a school where the FGN put them in June until their deal with the “White Man” broke down. See excerpt from the “White Man’s” website as at when the Nigerian government took the girls to him in June 2016:
"CCA provides complete transparency in the operation of its Chibok Girls Scholarship Fund. Reports of all income and disbursements have been provided to multiple agencies and officials of the American and Nigerian governments and to reporters from selected media companies such as CNN and TIME magazine. Copies are also provided to Christian relief organizations in the United States and the Murtala Muhammed Foundation in Nigeria. And finally, copies are provided to the CCA Chibok girls themselves."
Note also that the White Man has a scholarship fund that he is accounting to the FGN but the Minister says the Murtala Mohammed Foundation will sponsor them. This means double budgeting or budget padding for the same purpose to possibly create a leakage. Rather than use US funds, the MMF will bring dollars from Nigeria at exchange rate $ = 425 to “takeover” sponsorship from the “White Man.” How is this economically sustainable or is the government going to give Murtala Mohammed Foundation favorable forex at official price?
“But she declined to extend the scholarship to three of the girls with Emmanuel.” She said it was discovered that there were other five Chibok girls in the US also studying apart from the 10. “Today during our discussions, we realised that there was a first group of five girls taken to the US. But the parents said that they were in touch with them and the girls are in good hands,” Alhassan said.
The government has only today September 9, 2016 discovered that there are additional five escaped Chibok girls in USA. This means not only does the Nigerian government not know where the abducted girls are, they have lost track of even the escaped girls.
If the girls with Emmanuel are not in school, why have they declined to assist them with scholarships to go to school? In effect, they (government) have created or identified a fake solution and is looking for a problem to solve. After creating an imaginary problem, it has now failed to apply the solution so the problem remains unsolved.
Once again we call on the Federal Government to apologise for this obvious falsehood. We also urge the president to allow the Minister of Women’s to recuperate properly from her ill-health and catch up properly on what she has missed before embarking on any further serious national assessment so as not to embarrass the government again.
•Photo shows Hajiya Aisha Alhassan.