On the anniversary of the abduction of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls by Boko Haram sect on April 14, 2014, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, yesterday said that the girls are still alive and will definitely be rescued by the military.
Dasuki said that the Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of the insurgents, would be liberated before President Goodluck Jonathan leaves office on May 29.
In a statement via PRNigeria, an online medium to mark the abduction of the Chibok Girls, the NSA said the movement of the terrorists is being monitored and the military is leaving no stone unturned to “rid the country of the last bastion of terrorists’ infestation.”
He continued: “Right now, all Boko Haram camps, except Sambisa Forest have been destroyed. The forest would have since been liberated but for the unfavourable weather condition prevailing in the area as all needed reconnaissance activity and necessary deployment of troops has been made for the operation.
“Every movement of the terrorists is being monitored and every necessary detail is being taken care of to rid the country of the last bastion of terrorists’ infestation. Aside the Chibok girls, other Nigerian girls, boys, men and women were abducted by the terrorists and all efforts are being made to rescue them all,” he said.
Dasuki therefore appealed for more time for the military to complete the routing of terrorists, stressing that before elections were postponed in February, over 20 local governments were occupied by Boko Haram and that most Nigerians were pleasantly surprised that so much was achieved against insurgency within six weeks.
Meanwhile, Jonathan has told British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC correspondent that he believes the Chibok girls were still alive, and are being held in a distant forest.
Although there have been reports from some escapees that the girls were seen in the forest, their whereabouts remains unclear till date.
Also yesterday, the United Kingdom’s Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, restated his country’s concern over the missing Chibok girls.
Duddridge used the first anniversary of the abduction of the girls to reinforce concern for the victims of Boko Haram sect and restated UK’s support to Nigeria.
“We must not forget the brutal abduction of 270 schoolgirls from Chibok one year ago today (yesterday),” he said.
But a journalist, Ahmad Salkida, who is known for having close relationship and ties with Boko Haram leaders, claimed that the Chibok girls are alive and in good health.
Salkida told the BBC Hausa Service that the girls are valuable to the group, because they’ve comprised the sect’s ideology and are closely protected by its leadership.
He is the only Nigerian journalists who reportedly visited the forest where the girls were first held after their kidnapping.
He tried to mediate between the government and the group but later claimed his mediation effort was abandoned on the instructions of the Nigerian government.
The journalist also marked the year of abduction via his Twitter account.
Gwoza residents claim seeing 50 abducted Chibok girls
Some residents of Gwoza, a liberated Boko Haram enclave in Borno State, yesterday claimed that they have seen over 50 of the abducted girls in a big compound in the town.
One of the residents, a woman, told BBC that the girls were seen alive three weeks ago.
The woman, who sought anonymity, said she saw the girls in North-Eastern Gwoza before government forces drove Boko Haram extremists out of the town.
In the heat of the abduction, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, had said the girls had been converted to Islam and married off.
The woman further said that she lived under Boko Haram’s rule in Gwoza and saw the girls in Islamic attire, being escorted by militants.
“They said they were Chibok girls kept in a big house,” the woman said. “We just happened to be on the same road with them,” she added.
The third woman also told the BBC she last saw some of the girls, who range in age from 16 to 18, in November at a Boko Haram camp in Bita village, also in the North-East.
“About a week after they were brought to the camp, one of us peeped through a window and asked: ‘Are you really the Chibok girls?’ and they said: ‘Yes’. We believed them and didn’t ask them again,” the woman said.
“They took Koranic lessons, cleaned their compound, cooked for themselves and they braided each other’s hair. They were treated differently – their food (was) better and water clean,” the woman added.