Parents Join Soldiers In Bush Search For 99 Girls

Anxious parents of some of the girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, have headed for the forest in a desperate search for their daughters.

More than 100 schoolgirls were taken away from their hostels by suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Monday night.

Contrary to the claim by the Defence Headquarters on Wednesday night that 80 of the girls had been rescued, the Borno State Government said only 30 could be accounted for – as at last night.

The military agreed last night that its information was wrong, saying it was misled.

School Principal Asabe Kwambura told reporters that the report from the military was “not true” and that “only 14 of the 129 kidnapped girls had escaped”.

“Up till now, we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students … the security people, especially the vigilantes and the well-meaning volunteers of Gwoza, are still out searching for them. The military people too are in the bush, searching

“So, let it be clear that all the information passed on to the media by the military, concerning 107 girls is not true,” she said.

She spoke before the release of a statement by Borno State Commissioner for Education Musa Inuwa Kubo, who was at the school for most part of yesterday.

A group of parents, according to the BBC, raised money to buy fuel and water, and had headed into the forest with a local vigilante group to search for the girls.

One father told the BBC he was willing to die in the forest in the attempt to free his daughter.

The air force, army, police, local defence units and volunteers have all been involved in the search for the schoolgirls.

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima was also quoted by the BBC Hausa Service yesterday faulting the military’s claim.

He reportedly said: “We have recovered 14 of the girls and we have announced a N50 million reward for any credible information that will help us get our girls released and rejoined with their families.”

The Borno government, in a statement, said it had fully taken custody of only 30 of the 129 abducted pupils.

It said it was still awaiting the return of 99 others who were said to have been rescued by the military in collaboration with civilian volunteers.

The statement by the commissioner said: “I’m right at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, the scene of the unfortunate abduction. At the moment, we have taken custody of 30 girls. There is an increase of 16 students whose parents returned them to school after they ran home on the day of the attack. We had made announcements and called on parents whose children and wards ran home.

“The aim is for us to take proper account of our 129 students who were at the hostel on the day of that unfortunate attack. You may recall that 14 students had earlier escaped from captivity as explained by Governor Kashim Shettima on Wednesday.

“By our records of 129 students being at the hostel at the time of that unfortunate incident, we are expecting the return of about 99 students who might be among those said to have been rescued by the military.

“Myself, the principal of the school, Asabe Kwambura, parents, other students and residents are awaiting the return of our students. We have no reason to doubt or contradict Wednesday’s announcement by the Defence Headquarters, given the fact that the military personnel are those leading the search and rescue operations along with civilian volunteers.

“We are very hopeful that perhaps, the freed students are safely with the military and being brought to us.

“We pray that not just all our students return in good health but also all the security agents and volunteers safely return in good health after a successful and patriotic rescue effort. We call on parents to remain prayerful and hopeful that by the grace of God all the students will return to us in good health.

“On behalf of the Borno State Government, my ministry, staff and students of the affected school, parents and the relations of affected students, I deeply appreciate the concern of all Nigerians and rest of the world for their solidarity and well wishes. I also thank the media for their very critical role as we look forward to overcoming this grieving experience.”

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