ABDUCTED SCHOOLGIRLS: THE MISTAKE I MADE, BY PRINCIPAL

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On Thursday how the principal of the Government Secondary School, Asabe Kwambura, mistakenly handed over 129 schoolgirls to Boko Haram gunmen, who posed as military men.

The story was tweeted by Jon Gambrel on his twitter handle @jongambrell/AP around noon on Thursday.

The principal said,  “the insurgents arrived after midnight at her Government Girls’ Secondary School, wearing military fatigues and posing as soldiers. She said she believed them when they told her that they needed to move the girls for their own safety. So, she allowed the extremists posing as soldiers to load the students on to the back of a truck.

“It was only as the armed men were leaving, and started shooting, that she realised her mistake. The militants killed a soldier and a police officer guarding the school,” she said.

Meanwhile, there is confusion over the status of the girls said to have been rescued by the military on Wednesday. The school principal told Associated Press that the students were yet to be found.

“Up till now, we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students , the security people, especially the vigilance groups and the well-meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them. The military people, too, are in the bush searching,” the principal, Asabe Kwambura, told The Associated Press by telephone.

She said only 14 of the 129 girls and young women kidnapped by gunmen before dawn Tuesday had returned to Chibok town – four who jumped from the back of a truck and 10 who escaped into the bush when their abductors asked them to cook a meal.
Major  General Chris Olukolade, the Defence Ministry spokesman, had in a statement late Wednesday night, said that  all but eight of the students had been accounted for. “The others have been freed this evening,” he said. He also said security forces had captured one of the abductors.

Yesterday, the Borno State Commissioner for Education, Musa Inuwa Kubo, went to Chibok and took custody of 30 of the girls.
The commissioner said , “I’m right at the 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 calling 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.

 “ 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.

“My self, 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.

The military, in a statement by Major-General Chris Olukolade, said the controversy that had been generated around the efforts at securing the lives of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok was unfortunate.

“The ongoing frantic efforts of security forces along with vigilante groups including hunters working to locate and free the abducted students had, continued to be keenly monitored at the Operation Centre of the Defence and Army Headquarters as regular progress reports are being received from troops on the ground.

 In this regard, a report was filed in from the field indicating that a major breakthrough had been recorded in the search.  There was no reason to doubt this official channel, hence the information was released to the public immediately.  Surprisingly however, the school principal, one of the sources quoted in the report has denied all that was attributed to her for whatever reasons.   This is an unfortunate development indeed, yet the Defence Headquarters would not want to join issues with anyone.

“It has to be reaffirmed, however, that the report forwarded to the public on this issue was in good faith and not intended to deceive the public as is being interpreted following the denials by the School principal and Government of Borno State.  Like all other citizens, the military is deeply concerned to ensure that the students are safe and freed alive.  There is indeed no reason to play politics with the precious lives of the students.  The number of those still missing is not the issue now as the life of every Nigerian is very precious.”

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