The President-elect of Nigeria has said he cannot promise to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram a year ago today.
The students were herded into vans in Chibok on 14 April and disappeared, with the head of the militant group later claiming they had been converted to Islam and forcibly married off to fighters.
Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s former military dictator who won last month’s elections, gave the following statement to mark the anniversary of the atrocity.
“Today we remember the kidnapping of 276 girls from a school in Chibok one year ago. This crime has rightly caused outrage both in Nigeria and across the world.
“Today is a time to reflect on the pain and suffering of the victims, their friends and families. Our thoughts and prayers, and that of the whole Nigerian Nation, are with you today.
“I want to assure all of them, and particularly the parents, that when my new administration takes office at the end of May, we will do everything we can to defeat Boko Haram. We will act differently from the Government we replace: we hear the anguish of our citizens and intend to respond accordingly.
Boko Haram kidnapped at least 275 girls from Chibok in April last year
“This new approach must also begin with honesty. We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.
“But I say to every parent, family member and friend of the children that my Government will do everything in its power to bring them home.
“What I can pledge, with absolute certainty, is that starting on the first day of my administration Boko Haram will know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas.
“’Boko Haram’ means ‘Western education is sinful’. When they are defeated militarily, as they will be, we will ensure our citizens in the affected areas have improved educational opportunities as a direct counterbalance to Boko Haram’s twisted ideology.
“In particular we will educate ever more young girls ensuring they are empowered as citizens of Nigeria.
“Let us use this anniversary to remind each other that the attack on Chibok was an attack on the dreams and aspirations of our young people.
“We stand united in our pledge to resist terror in Nigeria– not just through military means but also through the power of opportunity and the hope of a better future for all”.