The chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, yesterday disclosed that the military has located the whereabouts of over 200 female students abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14.
Since their abduction, their whereabouts have remained a mystery, which has led to misinformation: some claimed they had been taken to countries like the Central Africa Republic, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
But CDS Badeh, while speaking with members of an NGO, Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), who were demonstrating their support, said the military had located their whereabouts but, for the safety of the girls, it is working on how to avoid risking their lives.
Said he: "The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are. But we cannot tell you; we cannot come and tell you the military secret here. Just leave us alone; we are working to get the girls back.
"We want our girls back, our military can do it. But where they are held - can we go with force? Nobody should say Nigerian military does not know what it's doing. We can't kill our girls in the name of getting them back. So we are working. The president has empowered us to do the work. Anybody castigating the Nigerian military - there is something wrong with him."
He regretted a situation where the menace is pitting the military against some young men in the country. He however expressed hope that the siege would be over sooner than expected.
"What is happening now is that we are fighting our fellow brothers, and we are not happy at all because we are killing our own kind and we are killing mostly youths. We cannot afford to eliminate our youths. Who are we going to hand over Nigeria to? We can't kill them."
The CDS asked Nigerians to stop criticising the military but instead join hands with them to end the menace of the insecurity challenges occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
"People have finally realised that you don't have another military except this one you have. And it is either you support your military or you are looking for anarchy. This war is not fought by the military alone; this war is fought by Nigerians. Nigeria is at war; everybody must put hands on deck. So, if you can't do anything else, but you have mouth to support the military don't disparage the military because you don't have another one."
Speaking on the recovering of arms and ammunition by the military in various parts of the country, he said, "We are recovering - and you know some of the arms we are recovering, they are very alien to the Nigerian armed forces, which means there are people from outside fuelling this thing.
When Mr President said we have Al-Qaeda in West Africa, I believed him 100 per cent, because I know people from outside Nigeria are in this war. They are fighting us, they want to destabilise us. This is our country and some people in this country are standing with the forces of darkness. No, we must salvage our country; we must bring sanity back into our nation."
He explained that the fight against insurgency was quite different from full-scale war: "If we were fighting an external war, they would have been begging us to withdraw. We have proved it: we were in Liberia and Sierra Leone and we returned democracy there."
The CDS stressed further that the military in Nigeria is the strong arm of democracy, and that it holds the constitution very dearly, adding that the constitution is represented by the president, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. "So, we are using our lives to defend democracy - democracy must thrive in Nigeria, whether anybody likes it or not."
Earlier in his address, the coordinator of the group, Chidi Omeje, said the group represents the ordinary Nigerians in the street. "We are no politicians or religious bigots; we understand that no nation can stand on its own without a strong military. We appreciate our military and we know the best way they can do better in their sacrifice," Omeje said.
He explained that the group moved into action because of the myriad of media attacks championed by mischievous politicians and some interest groups that have ulterior motives. "We are trying to tell the leadership of the Nigerian military that the ordinary Nigerian is behind them, ordinary Nigerians appreciate them."
Abduction threat: Boarding school converts to daytime only in Kano
St Louis Girls' Secondary School in Kano has received a letter alleged to have emanated from members of the Boko Haram terrorist group threatening to abduct its students.
LEADERSHIP was reliably informed that the school management received a letter through courier last week Tuesday.
The school is located on Dantata Road, Bompai area, Nassarawa local government area of Kano State.
The school's security guard, Kenneth Christopher, confirmed to LEADERSHIP that the letter threatening to abduct the girls was received.
Kenneth also confirmed that part of the measures the management of the school had taken was to release the boarding students and instruct them to be coming to school from their various homes.
At the school yesterday afternoon, there was no armed policeman at the gate or near the school.
It was gathered that even the security guard who opens and closes the main gate of the school wasn't really conscious of the threat the school is facing.
We should be proud of our military - Obanikoro
The minister of state for defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, yesterday expressed satisfaction in the ability of the Nigerian military to prosecute the ongoing counter-insurgency operation against Boko Haram to its logical conclusion.
Obanikoro disclosed this yesterday while playing host to a delegation from the Royal College of Defence Studies from Britain who came visiting as part of the continuation in their studies.
The minister used the occasion to dismiss the barrage of criticisms from the western media against the military. He urged the Nigerian media to stop joining the western world in destroying the military.
"I can beat my chest anywhere in the world to say we have some of the finest military men and women in uniform. So, with that kind of satisfaction, I am not worried about our capacity to prosecute this war," Obanikoro said. "In a crisis situation, all these western media that are writing negative things about us, they always queue behind their own government. So our own media should take a cue from that. This is not a Jonathan's war, this is not a federal government war, it is a Nigerian war; all of us must stand up to be counted."
He said that whenever there is a crisis such as the insurgency problem Nigeria is having now, the media always take the country affected to the laundry: "When America was in Iraq, we saw negative things about their soldiers; so also in Afghanistan, we read a lot of negatives about what the American soldiers did there; but the truth of the matter is that those who don't want you to succeed will always say negative things about you."
He argued that what the media have been written and said about the Nigerian military is false, adding that what was important was for the government to not lose focus in its fight against terrorism.
Dismissing the allegation that President Goodluck Jonathan was reluctant to seek international support, he recalled that it was early last year that Jonathan first made the call.
"Last year, our president speaking to CNN correspondent in Darfur did say he's reaching out to all our friends to come and assist us in putting an end to this insurgency. Unfortunately, there was no response at that time," he said.
Obanikoro noted that the killing spree embarked on by Boko Haram showed "how callous they are and it showed that it is not about any one of us; it is about all of us. It is not a blame game; the interest is to end this crisis".
The leader of the delegation, Maj-Gen Porter Simion, in his remark, said the delegation was in the country to know more about issues that the students of the institution were handling. He said they would also visit Ghana and Ivory Coast before going back to England. The delegates were drawn from nine countries.
Boko Haram attacks Bunu Yadi
Members of the Boko Haram yesterday attacked Bunu Yadi in Yobe State.
Though details of the attack were sketchy at press time, LEADERSHIP gathered that the sect members arrived at about 5pm with six Hilux vans and bikes.
The sect members were also said to have appeared in military camouflage while other wore civilian clothes with turban.
Nigerian soldiers were said to have been drafted to Bunu-Yadi to repel the attack of the insurgents.
But the number of casualties could not be ascertain as there was no GSM connection to the state.