17 April 2014

Nigeria: Military's Claim On Freeing 107 Abducted Girls False - Principal

Photo: Angela Stuesse
School house.

Borno State government and management of Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok where over 100 school girls were abducted by Boko Haram gunmen on Tuesday, have said the military's claim on freeing 107 of the missing girls is false.

The spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade had Wednesday issued a statement claiming that 107 of the kidnapped SSS-3 girls had been freed.

His statement reads: "More students of the Government Girls' Secondary School, Chibok have been freed this evening in the ongoing search and rescue operations to free the abducted students. With this development, the principal of the school 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. Efforts are underway to locate the remaining 8 students."

But the principal of GGSS Chibok, Mrs. Asabe Kwambura, whom Brigadier Olukolade said had given him the information on Wednesday, has denied ever feeding him with such figure, even as she insisted that only 14 of the abducted girls had been freed as announced earlier by Governor Kashim Shettima.

Mrs. Kwambura, who spoke to journalists in Maiduguri, said "There is nothing in the statement issued by the military that is true about our abducted girls. 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 there searching for them. The military people too are in the bush searching. So we have not received any information that they have the students yet. So let it be clear that all the information passed on through the media by the military concerning 107 girls is not true. I, as the principal, did not give anybody any figure on released students other than what His Excellency, Governor Kashim Shettima had informed the media," said Mrs Kwambura.

"They contacted me from the army headquarters in Abuja and I told them that I don't want to be seen to be contradicting myself on that because what the governor had said was what we knew.I also told them there could be further rescue of the girls, but up to this moment, we have not received any of them apart from what we had before. What the governor said is still the true picture of the whole issue and the information given by the military is totally wrong."

The Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima was also heard speaking in an interview aired on the Hausa Service of the BBC on Thursday morning that only 14 girls had been recovered so far.

"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," the governor said.

Many residents of Maiduguri who are angered by the sad development feel this denial has laid bare the truth on how the military may have been feeding the public with false claims on victories of their troops over the Boko Haram insurgents.

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