Abducted School Girls: ‘We saw a lot of strange things in Sambisa forest’

By NDAHI Marama, Maiduguri
The 15th of April, 2014 will ever remain fresh in the minds of
parents/ guardians and by extension the people of Chibok
and Borno state as a result of Boko Haram terrorists
invasion of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok and
abducting over 200 school girls undergoing/writing their
Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations, (SSCE).
The Gunmen laid ambush to Chibok Local Government Area
of Borno state, killing two security personnel suspected to
be a soldier and a policeman before they abducted over 200
female students.
Our Correspondent gathered that the gunmen numbering
over 100 using motorcycles, Hilux vehicles stormed the
council’s headquarters at about 9pm, had a field day and left
at about 3am on Tuesday morning.
Sources said, “apart from the abduction of the female
students, the gunmen also carted away food stuffs, before
setting many residential houses and shops ablaze”.
A lucky resident of Chibok who escaped the attack, Mr. Nuhu
Amos in a telephone chat with our Correspondent said, “
the gunmen armed with AK47 rifles, Improvised Explosive
Devices ( IED’s ) and petrol bombs stormed Chibok on
Monday evening and attacked one of the security posts, and
shot two security personnel, before abducting the school
girls, as well as the razing down of some houses and shops.
“Although, the attackers based on my knowledge did not kill
any resident, they only shot one security operatives, before
carting away food stuffs and went away into the Sambisa
forest.
“I also learnt that out of about 150 female students writing
their SSCE, some were able to escape into the bush, while
over 200 were abducted and whisked away by the attackers
using a 911 truck/lorry parked and abandoned by its driver
who was heading to Maiduguri, the state capital.
“Prior to this incident, gunmen have attacked Chibok almost
three times without success, but this time around, they
were able to accomplish their mission, as they were in
Chibok since 9pm and had a field day before fleeing at
about 3am on Tuesday”.
Another resident who did not want his name mentioned for
security reasons, said, “some of my children including those
of my elder brother and sister who are writing the Senior
Secondary School Certificate Examinations ( SSCE ) in the
affected school are still missing, and I don’t know whether
they were abducted or amongst those who escaped into the
bush,” he lamented.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer ( PPRO )
DSP Gideon Jubrin confirmed the attack in Chibok, but said,
he is yet to get details on the number of casualties.
“Yes, there was an attack in Chibok on Monday evening and
lasted till Tuesday at about 3am suspected to have been
carried out by members of Boko Haram terrorists, but we
are yet to get details, as soon as details of the attack reached
my table I will get back to you. Thank you”. Gideon said
However, three days after the incident, the mass kidnap
began to spark off global outrage. Defence Headquarters in
Abuja penultimate Wednesday said, about 80 of the students
have been rescued, while Governor Kashim Shettima also
disclosed to Journalists that only 14 students abducted by
the terrorists have been rescued and reunited with their
parents, pledging to give N50 million ransom to anybody
who assist with information on the whereabouts of the other
abducted school girls.
Major-General Olukolade had initially said that all but eight
of the girls were saved, citing information provided by the
school’s principal, but families on Thursday contested the
claim.
Likewise, the Commissioner for Education in Borno state,
Comrade Inuwa Kubo penultimate Thursday revealed that
about 30 school girls out of the 129 who were abducted on
Tuesday by suspected Boko Haram terrorists have been
officially rescued .
Kubo while reacting to the miliatary’s claim in a telephone
chat with our Correspondent said, “ I have been having a 24
hours contact with the principal of the school since the sad
incident happened, in fact I spoke with her this morning
( last Thursday ) and she said, only 30 students have been
rescued. But I am happy to inform you that the military
authorities have come out publicly to say that 80 of the
abducted students have been rescued, with only 8 of them
still in the custody of the abductors.
“ I am not a military man who will give the actual situation of
things, but I believe, for the military to say that only 8 of the
victims are still in the custody of the terrorists, which means
the 80 of those rescued according to military may be in the
custody of the military operatives who have been doing their
best to safely and freely see to the rescue of the the victims”,
Kubo said then.
He therefore promised to furnish our Correspondent with
further development as at the time of going to press .
Not long afterwards, our Correspondent gathered from
residents of Chibok that many parents of the abducted
students are still crying seeking the whereabouts of their
wards, maintaining that, the statement credited to the
military that about 80 of the students have been rescued
posed serious concern, as the affected parents/guardians
have not seen or heard from their abducted children since
then. But the military authority later said there was an error
in the information given.
The defence spokesman’s claim has been widely disputed,
including by parents who voiced anger at the alleged false
information.
“For the military (which) is supposed to find and rescue our
children to be spreading such lies shows that they have no
intention of rescuing our girls,” said Mamman Yakubu, a
Chibok resident whose daughter was among those abducted
by the terrorists.
“It is the highest form of insult,” he added. “They said our
girls have been freed. Bring them to us because they are yet
to be reunited with us.”
Parents recount ordeals in Sambisa:
Parents of school girls abducted from Government Girls
Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State by Boko Haram
terrorists, recounted their experience in the dreaded
Sambisa forest in search of their daughters who are being
held there.
The aggrieved, traumatised parents who spoke when the
state governor, Kashim Shettima visited the school, also
disputed the figures provided by the state government of
those who have escaped.
The parents then vowed to sacrifice their lives and storm the
forest because the military had allegedly failed to enter the
forest and rescue their children.
Narrating their experience, Mallam Amos Chiroma who was
among those who combed the Sambisa forest told Saturday
Vanguard: “We saw a lot of strange things in the Sambisa
forest but we will not be able to disclose all for security
reasons.
Borno and indeed this country require prayers from all and
sundry.
“While we were in the forest with over 200 volunteers who
only had cutlasses, bows, arrows and sticks, we came across
different make-shift camps suspected to be owned by
terrorists. It is however unfortunate that we had to turn back
when we met one good Samaritan in the forest who advised
us that it was in our own interest to go back because the
area we were approaching in the forest was a dead zone
dominated by terrorists.
“If soldiers had accompanied us to the forest, we were
optimistic that our missing children would have been
rescued, or we would be satisfied if we could just see the
dead bodies of our daughters”.
Another parent, Mallam Shettima Yau Haruna, who spoke on
behalf of parents of the abducted school girls, told the
governor that since the incident, they have been having
sleepless nights and they had to summon the courage to
enter the Sambisa forest.
He said: “We want to seize this opportunity to thank you for
the visit and identify with us at this sorrowful moment. But
the truth of the matter is that only 39 out of about 250
students have so far been rescued contrary to official
reports that 44 students were rescued out of 129 who were
abducted as they were preparing to write their senior
secondary school certificate examinations. We want to
emphasize that we are not happy with this development.
While we continue to pray for the safe return of our
daughters, we appeal to government and our security
operatives to please intensify the search for our missing
innocent children”, Haruna said.
Our correspondent who visited the school, observed that the
entire structure and vehicles in the school were set ablaze.
How Borno women stormed Sambisa forest to rescue
abducted girls:
Borno state coaliation for women’s right groups was the first
to express willingness to mobilise thousands of women to
embark on a voluntary search and rescue mission into the
notorious Sambisa forest, to ensure the release of the
abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School
Chibok.
The women under the auspices of BAOBAB Women’s Right,
said they were ready to storm the major hide-outs of the
Boko Haram insurgents in Sambisa forest, where the
abducted girls were believed to have been held hostage
several days ago.
Spokesperson for the group, Prof. Hauwa Abdu Biu, said
they resolved to embark on the expedition when it was
evident that no reasonable progress was being achieved in
the rescue of the kidnapped girls.
“We are ready to go into the forest and search for the girls.
In fact, we are prepared to risk our lives and reach up to the
Boko Haram camp and appeal to them to release the
children to us so that they can re-unite with their parents”,
Prof. Hauwa declared.
“There is nothing extra- ordinary in our quest to enter the
dangerous forest, we learnt that some men in Chibok had
earlier embarked on such mission, which later turned out to
be fruitless.We felt that as mothers, we are in a better
position to have the sympathy and concern over the fate of
the missing girls. All we are after was to see to the
successful release of the girls unhurt”.
The group then urged security forces to expidite action in
their search and rescue mission of the students so that their
parents can have a rest of mind.
She described the abduction of the school girls as inhuman,
abuse of human rights, capable of scuttling efforts for
enhanced girl-child education in the state and the country at
large.
She said: “The abduction of the innocent girls violates their
human rights, crime against humanity and prohibited under
international humanitarian law.
“Women in Borno strongly condemn this act in its totality as
it deprives children their right to learn in a safe
environment, thereby jeopardizing their future,” she
lamented
’Last three weeks, my worst days as Governor’- Shettima
Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima has described the
last three weeks as his most troubling moment since he took
over the mantle of affairs in May,2011.
The statement came after more girls escaped from captivity,
bringing the total number of those found to 52 leaving 77
still missing.
Shettima’s expression of feelings was released by his
spokesman,Isa Gusau.
The Governor said though he had witnessed very dark days
of insurgency inherited by his administration, none of the
attacks have been more troubling for him as much as the
last weeks that young girls from his State were abducted by
deadly insurgents and confined to a forest.
Shettima was quoted as saying,”I have seen very serious
moments since I became the Governor of Borno State in
2011 at a period of insurgent crisis. I have seen many
innocent lives lost for no reason and I mourn every life lost
with empathy and high sense of responsibility. But the last
three weeks have been my worst days as a Governor and
even the worst in my life.
I am troubled as a father, as a leader and as a politician.
First, as a father, any time my young daughter comes
around me in the last three weeks at the Government
House,my heart beats very fast,my heart becomes so heavy
and I develop serious headache because when I look into
the eyes of my young daughter,I wonder how the parents of
these our students feel when faced with the harsh reality
that their loving daughters are either in the hands of
abductors or wandering somewhere looking for safety while
parents do not know the status of their children.
I took a sympathetic note of one particular parent who
reportedly said he preferred seeing his daughter’s corpse
than the trauma of having her abducted. It is my very strong
hope that all the students will come out of abduction safely.
But as a father to a girl child, I know exactly what is currently
troubling the minds of parents and relations who are yet to
see their children.
I am deeply pained and I very much share the agonies of
parents. More than everyone,as the leader, on whose area
of governance, this unfortunate incident took place. I am
very anxious to have our daughters freed because I know
very well that the most important obligation of any
Government be it at the Federal, State or Local Government
level is to ensure the safety and welfare of its good citizens.
Every good citizen deserves safety as a fundamental human
need and right under a democratic system of governance. As
a leader and politician, I am also troubled that I have not
had the important opportunity to meet the anguished
parents of these girls in Chibok because I have,on a number
of instances, been advised to hold back the trip in order not
to interrupt security operations as well as search and rescue
efforts which are our topmost priority,especially now.
I am very much aware that Chibok is one of our
communities with high population of our Christian
parents,brothers and sisters. It is therefore easy for
unpatriotic and divisive elements to make issues out of the
delayed visit for whatever motive that will be unhelpful.
As a leader,I have always believed and displayed fairness to
all citizens regardless of ethno-religious backgrounds. I hold
that the Borno State Government has a responsibility
towards every citizen of the State,young or old,irrespective
of religion, ethnic group or place of origin. I very much
share the grief of parents and the entire people of Chibok.
We must at this time strengthen the Borno blood that exist
in us to work towards the freedom of our daughters.
The insurgents threatening us target us irrespective of our
religions. I am also very much aware that the girls abducted
consist of not just those with origins traced to Chibok but
also from other parts of the State and the country which is
typical of a good secondary school that should unite
Nigerians. I am also aware that the abducted students
include both Christians and Muslim faithfuls. I am made to
understand that the Ameera (spiritual head) of the Muslim
Students Society in the school is among those abducted and
yet to be freed.
She was abducted alongside her Christian and Muslim
colleagues without the insurgents worried about the religion
any of the students practice. We must therefore remain
united in our shared grief to pray vehemently for our girls as
well as the patriotic security agencies and civilian volunteers
currently in relentless search and rescue efforts.
But last week, seven more girls escaped from captivity,
bringing to 52 the number of those that escaped. This means
77 students are yet to be found. I once again call on parents
and guardians like we have been doing, to return any
student that might have ran home on the day of that attack,
so that we can take records to ascertain our missing
students.
So much is being done by rescue teams, there is very high
commitment on the part of the Federal,State and Chibok
local government authorities in working for the freedom of
these innocent daughters of ours that are future leaders and
mothers of future leaders.
I call on our Christian parents,brothers and sisters to
intensify prayers for the freedom of our daughters, the
return of peace in Borno and rest of Nigeria. I also urge all
of us to sacrifice our time to support grieving parents and
relations, we should be our brothers’ keepers in sacrifice
and forgiveness.
I pledge the resolute commitment of my administration to
the search for peace and sustainable progress and count on
the continued support and prayers of all citizens so that
together we will make Borno great again”.
Minister Advocates adequate security to schools in North
East:
The Minister of State for Power, Honourable Mohammed
Wakil has said the abduction of female students at the
Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok has
necessitated the need for appropriate measures to be put in
place for the defense of soft targets such as schools and
hospitals among others from terrorist attacks.
The Minister, who in a statement lamented the abduction of
female students from their schools, said this cannot be
allowed to be repeated and as such, adequate measures
need to be immediately put in place to check against this
evil act.
Wakil while condemning the increasing assaults on
innocents students as inhuman and unislamic, insisted that
“attacking women and children as part of a soft target
strategy is both condemnable and reprehensible.”
The Minister, in the statement he signed shortly after
returning back to the country from an official assignment
outside the shore of Nigeria, called for “concerted efforts to
secure the release of remaining female students and a new
strategy to contain attacks on soft targets such as schools
and hospitals.
He said: “We must now pay close attention to
schools ,hospitals and other soft targets. As the insurgents
are now avoiding well defended hard targets, we should
design new approach to securing identified soft targets.”
The minister, who sympathized, with families of the
kidnapped female students, advised that “an inventory of
likely soft targets should be taken by relevant authorities
and contingent plans should be prepared to secure likely
exit routes in cases of successful attacks.
“An alarm and warning system should be put in place in all
likely soft targets across the conflict areas. This system will
trigger early response and nip in the bud planned attacks as
was the case of the foiled plans to attack the NNPC mega
stations on Damboa -Biu Road”, Wakil said.
He however appealed to insurgents to lay down their arms
and enter into negotiation with the government for amicable
resolution of whatever grievances.
AGAIN: FOUR ABDUCTED SCHOOL GIRLS RESCUED
Four additional school girls abducted by suspected Boko
Haram terrorists at government girls secondary school in
Chibok last two week have been rescued around Monguno
area of Borno state, sources said. Our Correspondent
gathered that.
This is even as there were some media reports claiming that
the abducted school girls have been taken to Cameroon and
Chad Republic and were being forced to marry with only
N2,000 paid as Dowry on each of them although many
people have denied such information as it was not officially
confirmed by Nigeria security forces.
The source said four of the missing school girls were
rescued by some good samaritans in a village near
Monguno council area last Sunday before they were handed
over to security operatives in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Monguno is located about 80 kilometres drive from
Maiduguri and had witnessed series of deadly attacks by
insurgents including the attacks on military barracks last
year.
“ About four abducted school girls who were smuggled out
of Sambisa forest enroute Monguno were in the last few
days rescued by villagers.
The girls who looked traumatized and frustrated were
sighted around the outskirts of Monguno. Only one of them
managed to talk and said, they are students writing their
final year exams in Chibok but were kidnapped by unknown
gunmen, and that when four of them developed serious
illnesses while being conveyed to unknown destination, they
were later abandoned by their captors in the bush, before
being rescued by some villagers”.
The source revealed that, “already, four of the rescued
students are under the custody of a woman security
personnel receiving treatment at one of an undisclosed
hospital in Maiduguri. As soon as their condition gets better,
they will be handed over to relevant authorities for onward
delivery to their parents”.
When contacted on the development, the Caretaker
Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Mr. Ba’ana
Lawan said, “ Yes I also heard that four of the abducted
school girls have been rescued in Monguno before handing
them over to the security operatives.
I was told that they are currently receiving treatment at one
of the hospitals in Maiduguri due to the condition they
found themselves, I quickly rushed to the hospital to verify
such an important information, but I was disappointed as I
was not allowed and prevented to see or know the
whereabouts of the girls by security and the hospital
authorities.
“ As you may recall, the last time when we received an
information that four school girls were rescued and were
under the custody of military operatives in Maiduguri, I
visited the hospital where they were admitted and was given
access to see them, but this time around, I was not
opportuned,so I cannot be in the position to confirm to you
now, until I see the girls.
I was told by the security operatives to exercise patience,
promising that they will call me in due course over the
matter. So as soon as I am called upon, I will let you know
the situation of things”, the Council boss said.

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