— 8 students still missing
— Gov Shettima offers N50m reward for info
The military yesterday said it has rescued 121 out of the 129 school girls abducted by insurgents on Monday night in Borno state.
The girls, who are students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, were seized at gunpoint by men suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major General Chris Olukolade, said the girls were rescued in the evening yesterday in the on-going search and rescue operations to free the abducted students.
“Troops pursuing the terrorists closed in on the den of those believed to have carried out the attack,” he said.
The director said: “With this development, the principal of the school confirmed that only eight of the students are still missing.”
One of the terrorists who carried out the attack on the school has also been captured, Olukolade added, saying, “Efforts are underway to locate the remaining eight students.”
Our correspondent in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, however reports that 14 of the students escaped when the vehicle conveying them to the insurgens’ camp broke down on Tuesday morning.
News of the freeing of the 14 students was broken to reporters by Governor Kashim Shettima, who promised to give N50 million cash gift to anyone with information that could lead to freeing the other students.
On how the 14 students escaped, the governor narrated that they were asked to be involved in the preparation of meals by the insurgents and they took the opportunity of washing plates to flee.
Shettima said his government was willing to do everything to ensure that the students get reunited with their families.
He said he had been in constant touch with the principal of the school and the leaders of Chibok town and had gotten everyone involved in the search for the students.
The governor, who was in a pensive mood at the press briefing, said: “The commissioner of education has been in constant touch with the school and the people of the town. I have also been speaking to the principal and the district head of Chibok on hourly basis.”
While announcing the N50 million reward, he said he did not have information on the exact number of students kidnapped.
He said the school had opened a register for parents to come and write down the names of their missing wards, stressing that so far parents had complained of 50 students missing.
Shettima said: “I want to go to Chibok but was advised against it because of military operations going on around there.”
He added that the time called for sober reflection and should not be used to apportion blame, insisting that everyone was required to contribute their quota towards finding the students and reuniting them with their families.
“I want to appreciate the efforts of the military in the task of bringing peace back to the state,” he said, adding that he would not rest on his oars until he saw that all the abducted students were freed.
He lamented the fact that the students were abducted as the state government had envisaged something like this might happen and had put in place strategies to check against it.
According to him, one of the strategies was the premature closure of schools about two weeks ago despite criticisms, knowing that the insurgents might strike at schools.
He added that the state government had to bring the students to a central and secure place to write their WAEC/SSCE examinations.
The governor said at various times whenever information was received schools under threat of attack had to be closed down.
“We have had cause to close down prematurely the schools in the state,” he said. “Students of GSS Konduga were rescued on the day Konduga was attacked. We congregated all the students in a central place. Students were moved from Mafa to Maiduguri to prevent being attacked.”
He regretted the abduction of the students of GSS, Chibok, claiming that since the town is largely a Christian community it was not thought that it would be attacked by the hoodlums and even as assurance was received that the school was safe.
Shettima said instead of playing the blame game, “the task before us is how to get the students back to their respective families.”
He said that the crisis would not “last forever and we are sure we will pass through this phase.”