MAIDUGURI—SOME of the abducted students of Girls Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State yesterday narrated how they escaped from the terrorists.
The terrorists, numbering more than 100 stormed the school wearing army uniforms and deceived the schoolgirls into thinking they were soldiers who had come to evacuated them from an impending attack, unknown to them that they were being abducted.
The students, who had returned to sit for the on-going West African School Certificate (WASC) exams at their school despite a Borno state-wide closure of educational centres because of recent Boko Haram attacks in the state initially obeyed the armed visitors, thinking they were government troops there to protect them.
18-year-old Godiya Isaiah, among those who managed to escape the abductors, told Reuters that “When we saw these gunmen, we thought they were soldiers, they told all of us to come and walk to the gates, and we followed their instructions.”
But when the armed men started ransacking the school stores and set fire to the building, the terrified girls being herded at gunpoint into vehicles realized they were being kidnapped.
“We were crying,” Isaiah said, recounting how she later jumped from a truck and ran away to hide in the bush. Other girls were packed into a bus and some pick-ups.
Shettima said at least 14 girls had managed to escape and reach safety. Borno state education commissioner Inuwa Kubo said other girls told the same story as Isaiah.
“They went into the bus unsuspecting,” he told Reuters.
“They were lured into the vehicle because they were told that the school was going to be attacked,” he added. The attackers also raided nearby Chibok town, ransacking stores and offices there and killing several people, witnesses said.
The Military authorities announced last night that most students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok have been freed in the ongoing Search & Rescue operations to free the abducted students.
A statement issued by Director of Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said: “With this development, the Principal of the school has confirmed that only eight of the students were still missing. One of the terrorists who carried out the attack on the school has also been captured.”
Meanwhile, 14 of the abducted school girls had earlier excaped from the terrorists den.
This came as Governor Shettima of Borno State who briefed newsmen in Maiduguri on the students’ abduction said: “So far, 14 of the abducted female students have escaped and reunited with their families, and that government and security agencies are now having sleepless nights to ensure that the remaining ones are rescued”.
According to the governor, of the 14, five female students escaped same day they were abducted when one of the vehicles conveying them to the camps of the terrorists broke down in the bush, while the other 10 escaped when they were asked to go and wash plates for the terrorists in a nearby stream.
Governor Shettima added: “I have already given an instruction to all the security agencies to marshall all resources to see that these innocent students are rescued. I have to thank the security agencies, the principal of the school, the District Head and the Caretaker Chairman of the affected council for their support and cooperation since the sad incident happened. On behalf of Government and the people of Borno state, we have pledged N50million to anyone who givese information that will lead to the tracking/ rescuing of these our innocent daughters. I want to appeal to all and sundry to continue to pray for these students and for peace to return to our troubled state”, Shettima pleaded.
Many rescued, 8 still missing—DHQ
However, hope was rekindled on the fate of the abducted girls as it was announced that many of the 128 female students of Government Girls Secondary School ( GGSS ) Chibok, Borno State who were abducted on Tuesday by Boko Haram terrorists have been rescued by security operatives.
The Defence Headquarters yesterday in a statement by the Director of Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade disclosed that many more students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok abducted on Monday night by terrorists, have been rescued following a hot pursuit by Special Forces.
The statement signed by Major General Chris Olukolade simply said, “more of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State have this afternoon been freed as troops pursuing the terrorists close in on the den of those believed to have carried out the attack. A total of 128 students had earlier been abducted by a group of terrorists”.
In another statement issued later by Olukolade, the Military said: “More students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok have been freed this evening in the ongoing Search & Rescue operations to free the abducted students.
“With this development, the Principal of the school has confirmed that only eight of the students are still missing. One of the terrorists who carried out the attack on the school has also been captured.
“The military intervention and search and rescue operation to ensure the safety of the remaining students is ongoing in the suspected areas.”
“Meanwhile, security forces have been directed to continue with the tempo of offensive on all the terrorists’ enclaves anywhere in the country”.
Jonathan summons security meeting
Meanwhile, following the spate of terrorist activities in the country particularly Monday’s bomb attack at Nyanya Bus Terminal which claimed 72 lives and the abduction of female students in Borno, President Goodluck Jonathan has summoned a meeting of all state governors, service chiefs and members of the National Security Council.
The meeting summoned by President Jonathan is scheduled for 11.00 am. A statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said, “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has summoned members of the National Security Council to a meeting tomorrow (today) at the Presidential Villa against the background of recent events and developments in the country. The meeting which will be presided over by President Jonathan is scheduled for 11.00 am
Those expected at the meeting include Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen Aliyu Gusau, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the Department of State Services and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency.
“The meeting of the National Security Council will be followed at 1.00 pm by an enlarged meeting on security developments in the country to which President Jonathan has invited State Governors.
President Jonathan, members of the National Security Council and the state governors will review the security situation in the country as well as ongoing national security measures and operations with a view to determining the best way forward.
“President Jonathan reassures all Nigerians and persons living in the country that the Federal Government remains very mindful of its responsibility for the safety of their lives and property in all parts of Nigeria and will continue to do everything possible to protect them from the scourge of terrorism and insecurity.
“The President is particularly concerned about the plight of the young Senior Secondary School girls who were reportedly abducted from their school in Borno State on Monday night and has ordered the military and national security agencies to deploy maximum efforts towards rescuing all of the girls and returning them safely to their parents. He welcomes reports that the military and security agencies have already rescued some of the girls.
“President Jonathan deeply regrets the pain, sorrow and anguish brought upon many Nigerian families in recent days as a consequence of recurring security challenges which the nation is contending with.
“The President remains convinced that with the patriotic commitment and support of all Nigerians, the country will ultimately overcome its present challenges and move forward in unity and strength.”
First Lady condemns abduction
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has described as “inhuman and needless perpetration of evil against innocent school children”, the abduction of school girls in Chibok, Borno State and has called for their immediate release.
A statement signed by Media Assistant to the First Lady, Ayo Adewuyi quoted her as condemning the action of the abductors while urging them to embrace dialogue to resolve whatever problems they may have.
She said: “It has again become necessary for us to strengthen the advocacy for resolving differences in our society in a peaceful manner, to avert violence and wars in our country”
According to the first lady, no nation profits from a regime of fear and insecurity, because, where there is no peace there cannot be development.
“Nigeria has suffered enough severe losses due to violence and destruction expressing the need to put a stop to all these, in order to put the nation back on track, and enable our leaders to focus on development” she said.
She urged all Nigerians to intensify their prayers for God to touch the hearts of the evil perpetrators and to enable the nation overcome acts of terrorism perpetrated by enemies.
Northern governors’ wives plead for abducted girls
The Northern Governor’s Wives Forum, yesterday pleaded for the unconditional release of the over 100 Secondary School girls abducted in Borno by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect.
The Governor’s wives who condemned the abductions described the victims as “harmless students and future mothers whose lives should not be traumatized, but protected and safeguarded by all.”
In a communique made available to Vanguard in Makurdi yesterday, at the end of an emergency meeting of the Forum which was chaired by the wife of the Benue state Governor, Mrs. Yemisi Suswam, the Governor’s wives also condemned Monday morning bombing at the Nyanya bus terminus, in the suburb of Abuja.
The communique also appreciated the prompt response of the British High Commissioner, Mr Andrew Pocock and others who donated blood to the victims, pleading that Nigerians should not politicize the insecurity problem facing the nation.
While condoling with the families of victims, and praying for the quick recovery of the injured, the forum also urged politicians to give more attention to youth empowerment to avoid them being used as tools for violence and other criminal activities.
“The Nigeria Immigration Service should also step up efforts to check the influx of illegal foreigners and dangerous materials into country.” the communiques said.
The forum however appreciated the efforts of federal government to contain the security challenges in the country but further urged the government to strengthen security apparatus of the nation and to also seek the help of other countries to end the problem of insurgency in the country.