Chibok indigenes resident in the nation’s capital have denied knowledge of a N100 million presidential largesse allegedly given to a delegation of Chibok community from Borno State, when they visited President Goodluck Jonathan recently at the presidential villa, Abuja.
The Chibok indigenes, under the banner of Kibaku Area Development Association (KADA), Instead, claimed that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Special Duties, Prof. Dan Adebiyi after the visit with the president, visited the hotel where they were accommodated and presented a token of N100,000 each to the escaped girls on behalf of the Presidency.
Out of the 122 parents that visited, KADA explained that Prof Adebiyi gave 61 parents N200,000 each and another 51 parents N100,000 each, while the remaining 10 parents were told that the money was finished.
According to KADA, they did not receive any cash amount from the presidency, neither did Prof. Adebiyi, who had been coordinating the visit on the side of the president, give them notice before sharing the largesse.
The association expressed regrets that the approach of sharing formula adopted by the presidency has brought reproach and dishonour to their community in the eyes of the general public, which has supported them since the abduction of the 200 girls of Government Secondary School, Chibok.
Speaking at a press brief, organised by the leadership of KADA and read by its spokesperson, Dauda Iliya said that the money causing the controversy back in Chibok was not the money given by the presidency, but the N1 million that was given to the parents by the member representing Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Biye Gumtha.
His words, “It is noteworthy that our primary goal is the safe return of the girls that are still in captivity. It is sad that we are losing sight of this to the allegation of sharing money. We therefore want the world to understand that we, KADA stands by our earlier position and did not demand, receive or handle any finances throughout the process of the visit.
“On the night of the 22nd July, 2014 at about midnight, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Special Duties who had been co-ordinating the visit of the side of the Presidency, visited the hotel and told the 51 escaped girls who came that the President sent them a token of N100,000 each and accordingly gave them the said sum without prior discussion with any KADA official or any other person in the community.
“He equally gave the sum of N200,000 each to 61 parents out of the 122 parents that came on the visit. 51 parents were given N100,000 each on the basis that the money given to him was not enough to go round at N200,000. The remaining 10 parents were not given any amount of money.
“As for the money given to some parents back home in Chibok, it was the sum of N1,000,000.00 given to them by the Hon. Member of the House of Reps. Representing Chibok/Damboa/Gwoza Federal Constituency, which is the source of the alleged N7,000.00 given to parents in Chibok that were not part of the visit.
“While we acknowledge that any well intended support for our suffering population which has lost its means of livelihood since the events of April 14 and subsequent attacks could be welcome, however the approach that the Presidency adopted has brought reproach and dishonour to our community in the eyes of the public that has supported us since the abduction of our daughters.
“We hereby state categorically that no amount of money whatsoever was given to KADA leadership to share among the parents and escaped girls or for whatsoever reason and therefore the allegation is completely baseless, false and malicious.
“We clearly spelt out to the Presidency through the office of the Chief of Staff that we shall not be involved with any financial transaction whatsoever, including payment of transportation from Chibok to Yola, flight by air from Yola to Abuja, hotel accommodation and feeding in Abuja, and intra-city transportation while in Abuja.
“When the Presidency requested us to invite parents and escaped Chibok girls against 22nd July, 2014, we accepted the responsibility on the condition that we shall facilitate by way of contacting and mobilizing the parents and escaped girls thereby playing the sole role of facilitators”.
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES has been informed by the president’s spokesman, Reuben Abati, that his principal had no hand in the disbursement of cash gifts to the visitors.
“The president did not give approval for money to be distributed to anybody”, Abati insisted, adding that “The president’s commitment is to get the girls safely back. This is not an occasion for blackmail. This is unknown to the president”.
In response to a question of whether it was possible for the president to host the distraught parents and the girls without giving them gifts, Mr. Abati said the president does not have to give gifts to visitors.
“If people are guests of the president, it is standard routine that the government will take care of logistics…” but he (president) did not give the directive that people should be bribed, he added.
On the next line of action following the controversy, Mr. Abati said “If the office of the president is being dragged into this, you can be sure it will be investigated”.