Vanguard (Lagos)

28 April 2014

Nigeria: Missing Girls - We're Close to Abductors - Dhqtrs

Maiduguri--The military disclosed, yesterday, that its troops have succeeded in their major offensive to rescue the remaining 190 abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State as they have moved closer to the abductors' den.

The Director of Defence Information, Maj.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who spoke with newsmen, yesterday, on the sideline of media tour of military operations in Maiduguri, said the military was satisfied with the ongoing operations in Borno.

One of the lucky abducted students in Chibok who was later rescued and being handed over by her parents at school premises on Monday. Photo by Ndahi Maiduguri.

He said the troops had sustained momentum in terms of the offensive against the terrorists, notwithstanding the reactions from the insurgents.

He said: "The bases we visited are part of the responses to the terrorist offensive and that is an achievement; the military had moved close to where the insurgents are. It shows that the military had taken over the land. The morale of the soldiers was high, and we are expecting to see more successes from the troops".

A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who was on the media tour, reports that the group visited military camps in and around Maiduguri.

The group visited 7 Division Headquarters of the Nigerian Army, 7 Division Garrison, military check points in and around Maiduguri, among others. At the camp in the outskirts of Bulanbuli, the soldiers were seen carrying out their duties as expected.

Maj.-Gen. Ahmed Mohammed, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, who was also on the tour of the formations, told the troops that the Federal Government was happy with their operations. "That is why we are here to say a big thank you and to convey the appreciation of the whole country. I wish to say big thanks for your courage and dedication.", he said

The journalists were also taken on night patrols by the troops which lasted from 9 p. m. to 12.30 a.m. around Maiduguri and its environ. The essence of the tour, according to Olukolade, is to have a first-hand information on the operations of the troops.

Senior military officers from the Army and the Air Force had earlier held a strategic meeting at Army headquarters in Abuja to formulate strategies on how to rescue the abducted girls.

Major General Ahmed Mohammed was summoned to Abuja to be part of the strategic meeting.

Women to stage one million-women-march for the release of Chibok school girls

Meanwhile, women all over the country will on Wednesday stage a one-million-women protest march in Abuja to press for the release of the abducted girls.

Prof. Hauwa Abdu Biu disclosed this, yesterday, during an emergency meeting convened by the First Lady of Borno State, Hajiya Nana Kashim Shettima on the way forward for the release of the school girls.

She spoke last week on behalf of coalitions of Borno women during which they called for the release of the school girls and offered to go to the Sambisa Forest in search of the girls.

Prof Biu said that the one million march tagged "Free our girls" will involve women all over the country and called for the mobilization of Borno women to Abuja for the rally.

"The last time, we were in black but this time around the colour for the Abuja rally is red; so we should all be prepared and mobilize ourselves for the rally", she added.

Earlier, the First Lady, while addressing the meeting, called on the wives of the security chiefs to assist in mounting pressures on their husbands to intensify efforts towards rescuing the abducted school girls.

"I want to use this opportunity to appeal to wives of security chiefs at the national and state levels to mount pressures on their spouses to intensify effort to rescue our dear children. However, I feel it is necessary to call on all women in Borno to come up with their resolutions and harmonize them," she said.

"Let us all put our differences aside irrespective of our faith, or ethnicity, let us all join hands together to rescue these girls, I know that we can do it, Almighty Allah is with us, He knows our intention", Hajia Nana Shettima said amid sobs.

According to her: "I am sure for now we are not on our own, I am happy to inform you that the wife of the president called me two days ago, I believe that she is also with us, let us all join hands together irrespective of political affiliations."

Most of the women who spoke at the meeting called on the Federal Government and the security agencies to intensify efforts towards rescuing the kidnapped school girls.

They also called for prayers and fasting in Mosques and Churches so that God can touch the heart of the insurgents to release the girls.

Aisha Wakil, who has been in the forefront of calling on the insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue, cautioned against the use of force in rescuing the girls.

The meeting had in attendance wives of security chiefs in the state, non-governmental organizations, women professional bodies, representatives of Federation of Muslims Women Associations (FOMWAN), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), among others.

Northern delegates welcome intervention by US, UK

In a related development, northern delegates to the ongoing National Conference have welcomed the intervention of the United States and the United Kingdom in the move to rescue the remaining school girls abducted from their school in Chibok, Borno State.

While slamming the federal and state authorities for what they described as their belated response to the security situation in the country, the Northern delegates said that the news of the agreement between the president and governors to join forces to defeat the insurgency came to them as a surprise.

The delegates in a statement issued by their spokesman, Mr. Anthony AZ Sanni nevertheless called on the Boko Haram Islamic insurgents to release the girls, saying it was irrational to hold women or girls as victims in any conflict.

Sani in a statement made available to Vanguard said that the Northern Delegates Forum is "happy to read reports that U S A and UK have decided to lend Nigeria their helping hands in the spirited efforts to rescue the abducted girls. That is how it should be, since terrorism transcends national boundaries."

While calling on the abductors to release the girls, the forum said:

"This is because there is no conflict in the world, be it secular or religious, that allows women and children to be victims. More so that violence has never resolved any perceived grievance. Only constructive dialogue does. So let us embrace civilized way of resolving perceived differences rather than resort to violence that is often unhelpful because it offends many people's sense of justice."

Welcoming the news of the agreement between the president and the governors, the forum said:

"The recent reports that Mr. President and state governors have resolved to come together to put an end to security challenges across the country, though heartening, have come to Nigerians and northern delegates as a surprise. A surprise in the sense that it took them so long to realize that the primary responsibility of government is to protect lives and property of the people."

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