The 15th of April, 2014 will ever remain fresh in the minds of parents/ guardians and by extension the people of Chibok and Borno state as a result of Boko Haram terrorists invasion of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok and abducting over 200 school girls undergoing/writing their Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations, (SSCE).
The Gunmen laid ambush to Chibok Local Government Area of Borno state, killing two security personnel suspected to be a soldier and a policeman before they abducted over 200 female students.
Our Correspondent gathered that the gunmen numbering over 100 using motorcycles, Hilux vehicles stormed the council’s headquarters at about 9pm, had a field day and left at about 3am on Tuesday morning.
Sources said, “apart from the abduction of the female students, the gunmen also carted away food stuffs, before setting many residential houses and shops ablaze”.
A lucky resident of Chibok who escaped the attack, Mr. Nuhu Amos in a telephone chat with our Correspondent said, “ the gunmen armed with AK47 rifles, Improvised Explosive Devices ( IED’s ) and petrol bombs stormed Chibok on Monday evening and attacked one of the security posts, and shot two security personnel, before abducting the school girls, as well as the razing down of some houses and shops. “Although, the attackers based on my knowledge did not kill any resident, they only shot one security operatives, before carting away food stuffs and went away into the Sambisa forest.
“I also learnt that out of about 150 female students writing their SSCE, some were able to escape into the bush, while over 200 were abducted and whisked away by the attackers using a 911 truck/lorry parked and abandoned by its driver who was heading to Maiduguri, the state capital.
“Prior to this incident, gunmen have attacked Chibok almost three times without success, but this time around, they were able to accomplish their mission, as they were in Chibok since 9pm and had a field day before fleeing at about 3am on Tuesday”.
Another resident who did not want his name mentioned for security reasons, said, “some of my children including those of my elder brother and sister who are writing the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations ( SSCE ) in the affected school are still missing, and I don’t know whether they were abducted or amongst those who escaped into the bush,” he lamented.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer ( PPRO ) DSP Gideon Jubrin confirmed the attack in Chibok, but said, he is yet to get details on the number of casualties.
“Yes, there was an attack in Chibok on Monday evening and lasted till Tuesday at about 3am suspected to have been carried out by members of Boko Haram terrorists, but we are yet to get details, as soon as details of the attack reached my table I will get back to you. Thank you”. Gideon said
However, three days after the incident, the mass kidnap began to spark off global outrage. Defence Headquarters in Abuja penultimate Wednesday said, about 80 of the students have been rescued, while Governor Kashim Shettima also disclosed to Journalists that only 14 students abducted by the terrorists have been rescued and reunited with their parents, pledging to give N50 million ransom to anybody who assist with information on the whereabouts of the other abducted school girls.
Major-General Olukolade had initially said that all but eight of the girls were saved, citing information provided by the school’s principal, but families on Thursday contested the claim.
Likewise, the Commissioner for Education in Borno state, Comrade Inuwa Kubo penultimate Thursday revealed that about 30 school girls out of the 129 who were abducted on Tuesday by suspected Boko Haram terrorists have been officially rescued .
Kubo while reacting to the miliatary’s claim in a telephone chat with our Correspondent said, “ I have been having a 24 hours contact with the principal of the school since the sad incident happened, in fact I spoke with her this morning ( last Thursday ) and she said, only 30 students have been rescued. But I am happy to inform you that the military authorities have come out publicly to say that 80 of the abducted students have been rescued, with only 8 of them still in the custody of the abductors.
“ I am not a military man who will give the actual situation of things, but I believe, for the military to say that only 8 of the victims are still in the custody of the terrorists, which means the 80 of those rescued according to military may be in the custody of the military operatives who have been doing their best to safely and freely see to the rescue of the the victims”, Kubo said then.
He therefore promised to furnish our Correspondent with further development as at the time of going to press .
Not long afterwards, our Correspondent gathered from residents of Chibok that many parents of the abducted students are still crying seeking the whereabouts of their wards, maintaining that, the statement credited to the military that about 80 of the students have been rescued posed serious concern, as the affected parents/guardians have not seen or heard from their abducted children since then. But the military authority later said there was an error in the information given.
The defence spokesman’s claim has been widely disputed, including by parents who voiced anger at the alleged false information.
“For the military (which) is supposed to find and rescue our children to be spreading such lies shows that they have no intention of rescuing our girls,” said Mamman Yakubu, a Chibok resident whose daughter was among those abducted by the terrorists.
“It is the highest form of insult,” he added. “They said our girls have been freed. Bring them to us because they are yet to be reunited with us.”
Parents recount ordeals in Sambisa:
Parents of school girls abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists, recounted their experience in the dreaded Sambisa forest in search of their daughters who are being held there.
The aggrieved, traumatised parents who spoke when the state governor, Kashim Shettima visited the school, also disputed the figures provided by the state government of those who have escaped.
The parents then vowed to sacrifice their lives and storm the forest because the military had allegedly failed to enter the forest and rescue their children.
Narrating their experience, Mallam Amos Chiroma who was among those who combed the Sambisa forest told Saturday Vanguard: “We saw a lot of strange things in the Sambisa forest but we will not be able to disclose all for security reasons.
Borno and indeed this country require prayers from all and sundry.
“While we were in the forest with over 200 volunteers who only had cutlasses, bows, arrows and sticks, we came across different make-shift camps suspected to be owned by terrorists. It is however unfortunate that we had to turn back when we met one good Samaritan in the forest who advised us that it was in our own interest to go back because the area we were approaching in the forest was a dead zone dominated by terrorists.
“If soldiers had accompanied us to the forest, we were optimistic that our missing children would have been rescued, or we would be satisfied if we could just see the dead bodies of our daughters”.
Another parent, Mallam Shettima Yau Haruna, who spoke on behalf of parents of the abducted school girls, told the governor that since the incident, they have been having sleepless nights and they had to summon the courage to enter the Sambisa forest.
He said: “We want to seize this opportunity to thank you for the visit and identify with us at this sorrowful moment. But the truth of the matter is that only 39 out of about 250 students have so far been rescued contrary to official reports that 44 students were rescued out of 129 who were abducted as they were preparing to write their senior secondary school certificate examinations. We want to emphasize that we are not happy with this development.
While we continue to pray for the safe return of our daughters, we appeal to government and our security operatives to please intensify the search for our missing innocent children”, Haruna said.
Our correspondent who visited the school, observed that the entire structure and vehicles in the school were set ablaze.
How Borno women stormed Sambisa forest to rescue abducted girls:
Borno state coaliation for women’s right groups was the first to express willingness to mobilise thousands of women to embark on a voluntary search and rescue mission into the notorious Sambisa forest, to ensure the release of the abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok.
The women under the auspices of BAOBAB Women’s Right, said they were ready to storm the major hide-outs of the Boko Haram insurgents in Sambisa forest, where the abducted girls were believed to have been held hostage several days ago.
Spokesperson for the group, Prof. Hauwa Abdu Biu, said they resolved to embark on the expedition when it was evident that no reasonable progress was being achieved in the rescue of the kidnapped girls.
“We are ready to go into the forest and search for the girls. In fact, we are prepared to risk our lives and reach up to the Boko Haram camp and appeal to them to release the children to us so that they can re-unite with their parents”, Prof. Hauwa declared.
“There is nothing extra- ordinary in our quest to enter the dangerous forest, we learnt that some men in Chibok had earlier embarked on such mission, which later turned out to be fruitless.We felt that as mothers, we are in a better position to have the sympathy and concern over the fate of the missing girls. All we are after was to see to the successful release of the girls unhurt”.
The group then urged security forces to expidite action in their search and rescue mission of the students so that their parents can have a rest of mind.
She described the abduction of the school girls as inhuman, abuse of human rights, capable of scuttling efforts for enhanced girl-child education in the state and the country at large.
She said: “The abduction of the innocent girls violates their human rights, crime against humanity and prohibited under international humanitarian law.
“Women in Borno strongly condemn this act in its totality as it deprives children their right to learn in a safe environment, thereby jeopardizing their future,” she lamented
’Last three weeks, my worst days as Governor’- Shettima
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima has described the last three weeks as his most troubling moment since he took over the mantle of affairs in May,2011.
The statement came after more girls escaped from captivity, bringing the total number of those found to 52 leaving 77 still missing.
Shettima’s expression of feelings was released by his spokesman,Isa Gusau.
The Governor said though he had witnessed very dark days of insurgency inherited by his administration, none of the attacks have been more troubling for him as much as the last weeks that young girls from his State were abducted by deadly insurgents and confined to a forest.
Shettima was quoted as saying,”I have seen very serious moments since I became the Governor of Borno State in 2011 at a period of insurgent crisis. I have seen many innocent lives lost for no reason and I mourn every life lost with empathy and high sense of responsibility. But the last three weeks have been my worst days as a Governor and even the worst in my life.
I am troubled as a father, as a leader and as a politician. First, as a father, any time my young daughter comes around me in the last three weeks at the Government House,my heart beats very fast,my heart becomes so heavy and I develop serious headache because when I look into the eyes of my young daughter,I wonder how the parents of these our students feel when faced with the harsh reality that their loving daughters are either in the hands of abductors or wandering somewhere looking for safety while parents do not know the status of their children.
I took a sympathetic note of one particular parent who reportedly said he preferred seeing his daughter’s corpse than the trauma of having her abducted. It is my very strong hope that all the students will come out of abduction safely. But as a father to a girl child, I know exactly what is currently troubling the minds of parents and relations who are yet to see their children.
I am deeply pained and I very much share the agonies of parents. More than everyone,as the leader, on whose area of governance, this unfortunate incident took place. I am very anxious to have our daughters freed because I know very well that the most important obligation of any Government be it at the Federal, State or Local Government level is to ensure the safety and welfare of its good citizens.
Every good citizen deserves safety as a fundamental human need and right under a democratic system of governance. As a leader and politician, I am also troubled that I have not had the important opportunity to meet the anguished parents of these girls in Chibok because I have,on a number of instances, been advised to hold back the trip in order not to interrupt security operations as well as search and rescue efforts which are our topmost priority,especially now.
I am very much aware that Chibok is one of our communities with high population of our Christian parents,brothers and sisters. It is therefore easy for unpatriotic and divisive elements to make issues out of the delayed visit for whatever motive that will be unhelpful.
As a leader,I have always believed and displayed fairness to all citizens regardless of ethno-religious backgrounds. I hold that the Borno State Government has a responsibility towards every citizen of the State,young or old,irrespective of religion, ethnic group or place of origin. I very much share the grief of parents and the entire people of Chibok. We must at this time strengthen the Borno blood that exist in us to work towards the freedom of our daughters.
The insurgents threatening us target us irrespective of our religions. I am also very much aware that the girls abducted consist of not just those with origins traced to Chibok but also from other parts of the State and the country which is typical of a good secondary school that should unite Nigerians. I am also aware that the abducted students include both Christians and Muslim faithfuls. I am made to understand that the Ameera (spiritual head) of the Muslim Students Society in the school is among those abducted and yet to be freed.
She was abducted alongside her Christian and Muslim colleagues without the insurgents worried about the religion any of the students practice. We must therefore remain united in our shared grief to pray vehemently for our girls as well as the patriotic security agencies and civilian volunteers currently in relentless search and rescue efforts.
But last week, seven more girls escaped from captivity, bringing to 52 the number of those that escaped. This means 77 students are yet to be found. I once again call on parents and guardians like we have been doing, to return any student that might have ran home on the day of that attack, so that we can take records to ascertain our missing students.
So much is being done by rescue teams, there is very high commitment on the part of the Federal,State and Chibok local government authorities in working for the freedom of these innocent daughters of ours that are future leaders and mothers of future leaders.
I call on our Christian parents,brothers and sisters to intensify prayers for the freedom of our daughters, the return of peace in Borno and rest of Nigeria. I also urge all of us to sacrifice our time to support grieving parents and relations, we should be our brothers’ keepers in sacrifice and forgiveness.
I pledge the resolute commitment of my administration to the search for peace and sustainable progress and count on the continued support and prayers of all citizens so that together we will make Borno great again”.
Minister Advocates adequate security to schools in North East:
The Minister of State for Power, Honourable Mohammed Wakil has said the abduction of female students at the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok has necessitated the need for appropriate measures to be put in place for the defense of soft targets such as schools and hospitals among others from terrorist attacks.
The Minister, who in a statement lamented the abduction of female students from their schools, said this cannot be allowed to be repeated and as such, adequate measures need to be immediately put in place to check against this evil act.
Wakil while condemning the increasing assaults on innocents students as inhuman and unislamic, insisted that “attacking women and children as part of a soft target strategy is both condemnable and reprehensible.”
The Minister, in the statement he signed shortly after returning back to the country from an official assignment outside the shore of Nigeria, called for “concerted efforts to secure the release of remaining female students and a new strategy to contain attacks on soft targets such as schools and hospitals.
He said: “We must now pay close attention to schools ,hospitals and other soft targets. As the insurgents are now avoiding well defended hard targets, we should design new approach to securing identified soft targets.”
The minister, who sympathized, with families of the kidnapped female students, advised that “an inventory of likely soft targets should be taken by relevant authorities and contingent plans should be prepared to secure likely exit routes in cases of successful attacks.
“An alarm and warning system should be put in place in all likely soft targets across the conflict areas. This system will trigger early response and nip in the bud planned attacks as was the case of the foiled plans to attack the NNPC mega stations on Damboa -Biu Road”, Wakil said.
He however appealed to insurgents to lay down their arms and enter into negotiation with the government for amicable resolution of whatever grievances.
AGAIN: FOUR ABDUCTED SCHOOL GIRLS RESCUED
Four additional school girls abducted by suspected Boko Haram terrorists at government girls secondary school in Chibok last two week have been rescued around Monguno area of Borno state, sources said. Our Correspondent gathered that.
This is even as there were some media reports claiming that the abducted school girls have been taken to Cameroon and Chad Republic and were being forced to marry with only N2,000 paid as Dowry on each of them although many people have denied such information as it was not officially confirmed by Nigeria security forces.
The source said four of the missing school girls were rescued by some good samaritans in a village near Monguno council area last Sunday before they were handed over to security operatives in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Monguno is located about 80 kilometres drive from Maiduguri and had witnessed series of deadly attacks by insurgents including the attacks on military barracks last year.
“ About four abducted school girls who were smuggled out of Sambisa forest enroute Monguno were in the last few days rescued by villagers.
The girls who looked traumatized and frustrated were sighted around the outskirts of Monguno. Only one of them managed to talk and said, they are students writing their final year exams in Chibok but were kidnapped by unknown gunmen, and that when four of them developed serious illnesses while being conveyed to unknown destination, they were later abandoned by their captors in the bush, before being rescued by some villagers”.
The source revealed that, “already, four of the rescued students are under the custody of a woman security personnel receiving treatment at one of an undisclosed hospital in Maiduguri. As soon as their condition gets better, they will be handed over to relevant authorities for onward delivery to their parents”.
When contacted on the development, the Caretaker Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Mr. Ba’ana Lawan said, “ Yes I also heard that four of the abducted school girls have been rescued in Monguno before handing them over to the security operatives.
I was told that they are currently receiving treatment at one of the hospitals in Maiduguri due to the condition they found themselves, I quickly rushed to the hospital to verify such an important information, but I was disappointed as I was not allowed and prevented to see or know the whereabouts of the girls by security and the hospital authorities.
“ As you may recall, the last time when we received an information that four school girls were rescued and were under the custody of military operatives in Maiduguri, I visited the hospital where they were admitted and was given access to see them, but this time around, I was not opportuned,so I cannot be in the position to confirm to you now, until I see the girls.
I was told by the security operatives to exercise patience, promising that they will call me in due course over the matter. So as soon as I am called upon, I will let you know the situation of things”, the Council boss said.