There is controversy over the rescue of abducted school girls in Borno with the state government and the school principal faulting the military's claim that most of the pupils have been freed.
The claim by military officials in Abuja on Wednesday that 107 abducted girls of Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok were freed is a huge lie, Borno government officials, the management of the school and residents have said.
The Principal of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Asabe Kwambura, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning that the military's claim was false.
"There is nothing in the military statement that is true about our abducted girls," Mrs. Kwambura said. "Up till now we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students; all I know is that we have only 14 of them, and the security people especially the Vigilante and the well meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them."
She continued, "The military people too are in the bush searching. So we have not received any information that they have gotten the students yet. So let it be clear that all the information passed on the media by the military concerning 107 girls is not true. "I, as the principal did not tell any body any figure on released students other than what our Governor, His Excellency Kashim Shettima had informed the media."
The Principal said she was contacted by the military headquarters in Abuja yesterday and some person was asking her to confirm the number of girls released.
"I told them that I don't want to be seen to be contradicting myself on that because what the governor said was what we know about; and I told them there may be additional rescue of the girls, but up to this moment we have not received any of them apart from what we had before," the principal said.
" What the governor said is still the true picture of the whole issue and that information given by the military is totally wrong." The military spokesperson at the Defence Headquarters, Major General Chris Olukolade, had Wednesday issued a statement claiming that 107 abducted girls were freed; adding that only eight of the girls were still missing and the military was searching for them. He also claimed that a member of the Boko Haram sect that participated in the abduction was also nabbed by the military. Borno state Governor, ashim Shettima was also quoted by the BBC Hausa service this morning faulting the claims of the military.
He reportedly said, "We have recovered 14 of the girls and we have announced a N50 million reward for any credible information that will help us get our girls released and rejoined with their families." PREMIUM TIMES also enquired from a top official of the Department of State Service (DSS) in Maiduguri who ordinarily should know about the rescue of the girls.
"We have no such information apart from the 14 that escaped; if there is anything like that, no one would want to hide it from the media; may be the military have their own intel on that, which we probably are not aware of for now," he said.
Some relatives and parents of the abducted girls said they were not happy with the way the military "is misleading the world about the innocent girls". A female senior Civil Servant with the Borno state government, who requested not to be named said, "What kind of nonsense is this for God sake? Why are they playing politics with the lives of these innocent girls; I had just called some of my relatives in Chibok and they told me none of the girls had been released apart from the 14 that escaped back to town. We hope the military is not doing some thing funny with this very sensitive issue".
When contacted late last night, Mr. Olukolade insisted it was the principal of the school who told the military that only eight girls were now missing.