In a letter dated January 11, signed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and addressed to BBOG co-covener, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, the Federal Government had asked the group to nominate three of its members for the North-east tour scheduled for January 17.
In its reply, the BBOG requested the government to meet certain conditions before the tour and also demanded for a change in the scheduled date.
The group specifically asked for a Pre-Tour Meeting with some officials of government and a retraction of some remarks allegedly made by the Chief of Army Staff, which it described as defamatory
In a letter dated Saturday, January 14th, the government said it was unable to postpone the trip as scheduled.
“Thank you for your letter, dated Jan. 13, which is in response to ours of Jan. 11, requesting that we change the date of the proposed guided tour of the North-East to accommodate a Pre-Tour Meeting between your organisation and some top officials of the Federal Government.
“We have also noted the conditions you gave for embarking on the trip which include the said Pre-Tour Meeting and the retraction of some remarks allegedly made by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. – Gen. Tukur Buratai, which the #BBOG finds to be slanderous.
“We regret, however, to inform you that we are unable to postpone the trip as scheduled. ’’
The government insisted the team would proceed on the trip on Monday as scheduled because of the narrow window available to have a good weather on the day. It said that payment for the satellite downlink streaming of the mission had been made for the day and shifting the date will require another round of booking to secure such a slot.
The government added that apart from the BBOG members, local and international journalists had been invited for the trip, while some preparations had been made by the Nigerian military.
It noted that the remarks purportedly made by the Chief of Army Staff and the request for a meeting with its certain top officials were irrelevant to its request for the BBOG to join in the search mission.
The government stressed that it extended the invitation to the BBOG in recognition of the group’s commitment to the safe release of the Chibok girls in captivity and interest in the welfare of those who had been released.
“We hope that the BBOG will drop its conditions and join the trip which shows the commitment of the Federal Government to securing freedom for the Chibok girls and its transparency in handling the issues of the girls. “