President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday admonished protesters of terrorists activities not to policise their protests in the country.
Jonathan gave the admonition when he received the “Bring Back our Girls” protesters at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
The protesters, numbering about 150 and led by a former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, were demanding the release of the abducted school girls in Chibok, Borno State.
Jonathan was represented by a delegation of Ministers and Presidential Advisers led by Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In the address read by Olajumoke Akinjide, the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Jonathan said the campaign was just and government identified with it.
Jonathan said that because he identified with the protest, he had sent such a delegation of more than 10 ministers and many presidential advisers to receive the protesters.
He, however, cautioned against the possibility of hijacking such protests for political and selfish motives.
The President added that protests on terrorism should be directed at the terrorists and should not be used as a blame games.
He emphasised that there must be a united movement for the release of the girls, which should be turned to a united action against terrorism.
He said: “We appeal to your group and others that your genuine patriotic zeal is matched with the realistic understanding of the situation in expressing concerns and sentiments on this matter and other matters of terrorism.
“Government believes that we must all come together to fight terrorism and that protest should be directed at the terrorists who have abducted our daughters and deprived them of a place at the fountain of freedom in our country.
“When terrorists see Nigerians turned on each other in blame, it gives them a huge morale boost.
“We must never lose sight of the fact that the terrorists are the real enemies.
“We must not politicise the protests.
“When a bomb detonates in Baghdad, Kabul, Afghanistan, the people there do not blame the government, they blame the terrorists.
“When a bomb blows up in Nigeria, we must all unite to fight the terrorists.
“This is the task of this generation.”
Jonathan said contrary to perception in certain quarters, his administration responded swiftly to the kidnap of the girls by the immediate deployment of security after the abductors.
He said: “Government has mobilised resources, military and diplomatic, in the search for the girls who had suffered so much trauma in captivity.
“Government took action the very day the kidnapping occurred by deploying security services to go after the abductors.
“The president meets with the security chiefs almost daily and it is in constant consultation with regional and global partners on the kidnap.”
Jonathan also underscored the need for Nigerians to encourage the military and stop castigating them.
He said: “Our security forces are among the best trained in Africa and they are making so mush sacrifices in the fight against terror.
“As we sleep daily, they are in the field confronting the enemy.
“They need our support, not attacks and discouragement.
“They are also losing their lives for us.”
Jonathan encouraged civil society groups to use their influence to encourage Nigerians to supply useful information to security services using the emergency number 112.
The President appreciated the orderly manner they organised the protest and thanked all local and international groups that had protested the senseless abduction.
He noted that with the protest, the right of assembly had not been violated but protected.
Earlier, one of the leaders of the protest and wife of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Maryam Uwais, had read a letter dated May 11 and directed to the President.
In the letter, they underscored the need for government to double its efforts at rescuing the girls and made proposal on solution to terrorism.
The letter was handed over to the SGF for onward delivery to the president.
The protesters also took turns to ask 10 questions from the delegation.
The questions related to the need for government to establish the authenticity of the abduction and the need for regular update on the rescue process.
They also asked questions on the actions taken after the president returned from France, the effectiveness of the state of emergency and whether government would negotiate with Boko Haram.
The group requested to know the level of collaboration between the Federal and state governments in the rescue efforts and what government was doing to protect schools from attacks.