- Says 247 Abducted Schoolgirls Still Missing
The Nigerian Defence Headquarters has said that it made mistake when it said that 107 of the captives had been rescued, a mistake which It, heaped its blame on Mrs. Asabe Kwambura, the Principal of GGSS Chibok, for the false information.
In a statement issued by Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, said: “The controversy that has been generated around the efforts at securing the lives of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok is unfortunate.
“The ongoing frantic efforts of security forces along with vigilante groups including hunters working to locate and free the abducted students have continued to be keenly monitored at the Operation Centre of the Defence and Army Headquarters as regular progress reports are being received from troops on the ground.
“In this regard, a report was filed in from the field indicating that a major breakthrough had been recorded in the search. There was no reason to doubt this official channel, hence the information was released to the public immediately.
“Surprisingly, however, the school principal, one of the sources quoted in the report has denied all that was attributed to her for whatever reasons. This is an unfortunate development indeed, yet the Defence Headquarters would not want to join issues with anyone.
“It has to be reaffirmed, however, that the report forwarded to the public on this issue was in good faith and not intended to deceive the public as is being interpreted following the denials by the school principal and government of Borno State.
“Like all other citizens, the military is deeply concerned to ensure that the students are safe and freed alive. There is indeed no reason to play politics with the precious lives of the students. The number of those still missing is not the issue now as the life of every Nigerian is very precious.
“In the light of the denial by the principal of the school, the Defence Headquarters wishes to defer to the school principal and governor’s statement on the number of students still missing and retract that aspect of the earlier statement while the search continues.”
Giving an account of what happened from the local community’s perspective, Chairman of Kibaku Area Development Association, Mr. Hosea Tsambido, said yesterday at a news conference in Abuja: “The girls were made to count themselves, giving a figure of 247. They were taken away after which the school was razed down completely.
“The terrorists left with the girls and their loot at about 3am on Tuesday the 15th April to an unknown destination. Since then, a lot of information in both print and electronic media have reached Nigerian public and the world at large that the girls had been rescued and that only 8 are still missing.
“Different sources are giving different figures of the number of girls rescued, which are not true.
“The most disturbing, however, is the statement credited to the Defence Headquarter as carried by most print media of 16th and 17th April 2014, that 121 of the girls have been rescued and that only 8 are still missing.
“This information is misleading, as neither the parents nor the school authority have seen their girls as at this press time.”
Tsambido said that the anxiety generated by this “misleading information” had forced the local communities to mobilise themselves and move to Sambisa forests to search for the girls to complement the efforts of the military.
“Out of the 247 girls known to have been abducted, only 14 girls who escaped through their personal efforts have returned to their parents,” he stated, adding:
“This is the true picture and we are appealing to Government to intensify the search and rescue efforts so that the girls can be reunited with their parents.”