Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Chibok Girls - Presidency, U.S. Slam Defence Chief

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
A speaker at a Bring Back Our Girls demonstration in Abuja.

Abuja — The United States said, yesterday, that it does not have information to support the claim by the Nigerian military that it knows the whereabouts of the more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Alex Badeh said on Monday that the military knew the location of the schoolgirls, abducted by the Boko Haram Islamic sect on April 14.

Badeh's claim has also reportedly incurred the wrath of the Presidency.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters, yesterday, that, "we don't have independent information from the United States to support that statement. We, as a matter of policy and for the girls' safety and wellbeing, would not discuss publicly this sort of information regardless."

Five U.S. and European security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had no credible information on the location of the girls and were skeptical that the Nigerian government knew where they were. The five officials said the United States and some European allies had provided technical intelligence, including information from spy aircraft and satellites, to Nigerian authorities, who lack such intelligence capabilities.

But the officials said that as far as they knew, technical intelligence systems had not produced precise or credible information establishing the girls' location.

The five officials said that if the Nigerians had obtained such information from informants on the ground, it has not been shared with U.S. and allied agencies.

One impediment to finding the girls, the officials said, was that since their abduction, they had been divided into small groups. Boko Haram is also believed to be hiding them in densely forested terrain where it would be hard for modern technical intelligence systems to gather information.

Presidency angry with CDS

Meanwhile, Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, has reportedly incurred the wrath of the Presidency over his claim that the military has sighted the 270 schoolgirls seized from their dormitories in Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram terrorists last month.

President Jonathan, it was learnt last night, was unhappy with the claim by the defence chief, which he considered as a breach of military tactics capable of hindering the move to free the children, who have been in the kidnappers' den since last month.

Meanwhile, Air Marshal Badeh declared, yesterday, that the military was now fighting a bigger battle with the international terrorist organisation known as Al Qaeda with networks in North and West Africa, noting that the ongoing counter terrorism and counter insurgency war has gone beyond Boko Haram

A top Presidency source told Vanguard last night that Jonathan considered the CDS' claim on the missing schoolgirls as an unnecessary outburst, which could frustrate ongoing efforts by the multinational team currently in the country to rescue the girls.

Counter-productive

The source, which did not want to be quoted, said President Jonathan was still at a loss as to why Badeh made the statement at a time he was expected to be more cautious over the contentious issue, which is generating interest across the globe.

"Indeed the President is really upset over the claim and we do not know what will happen," the source said but did not give further details.

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InFocus

U.S. Skeptical On Nigeria Missing Girls Claim

A speaker at a Bring Back Our Girls demonstration in Abuja.

The United States has expressed skepticism that more than 200 schoolgirls held by Boko Haram militants had been located by the military. Read more »