(AA) – Nigeria’s incoming President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday vowed utmost efforts to find scores of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram militants last year.
“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,” Buhari said in a statement.
He said that he will do his utmost efforts to rescue the girls once he assumes power late May.
“We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown,” Buhari said.
“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,” he added.
In April of last year, Boko Haram militants abducted 276 girls from their school dormitories in Chibok town in the northeastern Borno State, according to official accounts.
Boko Haram kingpin Abubakar Shekau later claimed responsibility for the abductions, offering to trade the kidnapped girls for detained militants held by the Nigerian authorities.
At least 57 of the girls subsequently managed to escape their captors. The fate of the remaining girls, however, remains unknown.
At the time, the incident made global headlines, and several countries – including the U.S. – had offered to help Nigeria find the schoolgirls.
“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,” Buhari said.
“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.”
Nigeria is fighting a six-year Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced over one million people from the country’s northeast, where the militants have been the most ruthless.
The Nigerian military recently announced that all territory earlier captured by the insurgents in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states had all since been “liberated” by the army.
Gwoza, the headquarters of Boko Haram’s self-styled Islamic caliphate, was liberated in late March.