4 July 2014

Nigeria: Parents of Chibok Girls - We're Ready to Die in Sambisa Forest

Parents of the abducted schoolgirls and many residents of Chibok have expressed concern over the almost three months captivity of the girls by Boko Haram terrorists, saying that they are left with no option than to storm Sambisa Forest for the rescue of the girls and if need be die in the process.

The parents added that they would be happy to receive the corpses of their daughters for decent burial and mourn them than having them with the terrorists without knowing what is happening to them.

Some of the parents disclosed this during a telephone interview with our correspondent in Maiduguri yesterday.

But the Borno State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Titus Pona, has stated that stakeholders in the area are now begging distraught parents not to embark on the deadly mission.

Pona, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Friday from Chibok, his home town yesterday, said his people are in a complete state of despair and have already started mobilising themselves in order to risk their lives by going in search of the girls inside the Sambisa Forest.

He said, "We have been trying our best to console the poor parents who have been badly devastated by the kidnap of their girls; the situation is very pathetic in Chibok town and the people are begging to take actions on their own.

"We have been pleading with them not to embark on such dangerous mission into the forest; that is what we can do for now; but how long are we going to continue holding them down?

"We went round to see some of the parents and their families; it was a very pathetic sight; some of them were crying and asking that they would be happy to receive the corpses of their daughters so that they can bury them and mourn them decently, than having them out there in the bush, without knowing what is happening to them".

Pona said as religious leaders, they have done what they could do to console the parents, who feel government is not doing enough to rescue the girls and bring them out of their present psychological trauma.

We'll rescue the girls alive - Olukolade

The Defence Headquarters yesterday reiterated the reason for the military's seeming sluggishness in the rescue of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists: it wants the girls back to their parents alive.

On April 14, or 81 days ago, the terrorists struck at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, and abducted no fewer than 200 girls under the cover of darkness. Except for a handful that escaped, the rest are still being held captive inside the Sambisa forest.

Speaking during an interaction with senior editors at the LEADERSHIP Corporate Headquarters, Abuja, yesterday, the director of information at the Defence Headquarters, Major General Chris Olukolade, said some elements were trying to politicise the operation while they (the military) were careful not to be drawn into politics.

"The best way to get them (the abducted girls) alive is what we are trying to do. To the best of our knowledge, they are still accessible. If we tried to force our way in, they may be killed. If we force our way there, they will kill them. This is what we want to avoid at all cost; rescue operations of that nature should not be done in a hurry," the military spokesman said. "The chief of defence Staff (CDS) came out to tell the world that we had an idea of where these girls were. We didn't think it would impress anyone to go and bring their dead bodies back to their parents. Sambisa (forest) is not impenetrable. But let me say it here: they mined almost everywhere around where they are keeping these girls."

The Nigerian military is globally recognied for its tact, he noted.

On the funding of the counter-insurgency operation, Olukolade explained that when people heard that some N130 billion was given to the military, they were shocked and surprised thinking that the whole amount was for the operation. "If Nigerians knew the details of how the money is being spent, they would commend us for being prudent," he said. "The said amount included salaries of privates and officers, including their pension." Making use of Alpha jets, tanks, helicopters and others costs several billions of naira, he stated.

He appealed to the media not to let what happened in Sierra Leone happen in Nigeria. The elite, he said, destroyed [Sierra Leone's) military by polarising it. He said: "The military belongs to all Nigerians irrespective of their religious and political persuasions and we should try as much as possible to protect it, if we want the military to succeed in protecting the corporate integrity of Nigeria. My uniform does not belong to me, it belongs to Nigeria."

Responding to the recent clampdown on the print media including LEADERSHIP recently, the director of information explained that it was not meant to be seen as such but to act on the information available to the military. He urged the media to continue working harmoniously with the military to ensure a quick resolution to the menace of terrorism in the country: "This is an usual period in our country. You could imagine a situation where, despite my rank, my vehicle would be searched whenever I want to enter into the Defence Headquarters. We have to be doing that in order to prevent what happened in Pakistan where the Pakistani army headquarters was bombed."

'Boko Haram can only be defeated if corruption ends'

An Italian nun, Enza Guccione, has declared that Boko Haram can only be defeated if corruption ends in the country.

According to Enza, Nigerian terror group Boko Haram's deadly attacks will only end if corruption is eliminated in the country.

Drawing on her years of experience in the country, the Nigeria-based Italian nun said Boko Haram insurgency is as a result of Nigeria's internal instability and politicians' lack of effort to promote the country's development.

"I believe Nigerian politics famous for its great corruption does not aim at promoting the country's development," Sister Enza told IBTimes UK.

"Politicians' only interest is to get rich by exploiting the country's oil. There is a continuous fight over oil production."

Alluding to this spate of scandals, Sister Enza said: "Boko Haram will stop only when politicians' corruption ends.

"To defeat terrorism, leaders must build a solid future for the nation by providing education for everybody, creating jobs for the youths, using the country's natural resources to help Nigerians and guaranteeing the recognition of basic human rights to all the citizens."

"If the insurgency is a religious war, Boko Haram would have focused their attacks on the southwest of Nigeria, instead of the north, mainly inhabited by Muslims and which is close to Muslim-majority countries Chad, Niger and Cameroon," she said.

Terror war: Police top brass holds emergency meeting

The inspector-general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, yesterday convened an emergency meeting of the Police High Command to appraisal the ongoing war against Boko Haram insurgents.

Police spokesman ACP Frank Mba made this known yesterday in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP. He said the IGP urged zonal AIGs and the command CPs to evolve new intelligence-gathering and crime-fighting techniques.


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