FOUR different battalions, a little more that a Brigade of the Nigerian Army, have been moved to and are currently taking
positions in and around all the access routes into and outside Sambisa forest in Borno State, where the recently abducted schoolgirls have been confirmed to be holed up with their captors.
Also, fighter jets of the Nigerian Air Force, as well as police surveillance helicopters had been mobilised and were waiting for the command to begin the joint security operations for rescue efforts of the girls.
Owing to the nature of the operation which will result in soldiers and security agencies encountering booby traps, land mines, ambush and other unknown traps from the side of the terrorists, it was gathered that Air Force fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and police surveillance helicopters would carry out round the clock missions, to ensure its success.
Nigerian Tribune gathered that since the forest shares borders with towns in Adamawa, Yobe, Borno and Cameroon, the different battalions would each launch their offensive from these locations.
It was gathered that because of the high calibre nature of the arms and explosives in the hands of the terrorists, including rocket propelled grenades and technical equipment that could shoot down aircraft, the Federal Government had made available to the security forces night vision equipment, in case the terrorists decide to move the girls by night.
Speaking on insinuations making the rounds that most of the girls might have been moved to Chad, Cameroon or abroad by the terrorists, a security source said “all I can tell you is that since the incident happened, the borders close to Sambisa have been fortified and a lot of cordon and search operations have been ongoing.”
Most information turn out to be spurious —DHQs
Defence Headquarters, on Thursday, said most of the information received on the whereabouts of the schoolgirls had been mischievously publicised for sensational reasons and had always turned out to be spurious and of no operational use.
It said some of them had been mischievously publicised with a view to heightening tension and inflicting more pain on the nation as envisaged by the terrorists.
Major-General Chris Olukolade, Director in charge of Defence Information, while disclosing this stated that the Armed Forces was mindful of the fact that some of the information with which it had been inundated were actually a ploy to distract it from its goal of dealing with terrorism and other violent crimes aimed at crippling the nation.
He, however, noted that the forces would remain disposed to receiving, analysing and applying all relevant information on the issue.
He said “the Borno State government, in whose facility the incident occurred is appropriately placed to continue with regular briefing as the state Commissioner for Education had been doing.”
This, according to him, was in line with best practices in other climes, moreso as all agencies of every tier of government were expected to continue functioning in the state.
We must find abducted schoolgirls —Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan used the May Day celebration to reiterate his administration’s determination to bring the Boko Haram insurgency to an end, vowing that the abducted secondary schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, must be found and rescued.
Speaking at Eagle Square, Abuja venue of workers’ parade to mark this year’s May Day, he also restated his earlier submission that the perpetrators of Nyanya bus terminal bombing in the Federal Capital Territory would be fished out and punished in accordance with the law.
He assured that government was continuously fine-tuning its security strategies to curb the insurgents who, he said, must never be allowed to succeed in their evil intentions.
He, therefore, called for the cooperation of citizens to beat back the threat posed by the Islamic sect to the nation.
“The recent atrocities by terrorists, particularly the Nyanya motor park bombing of mainly working class citizens, as well as the cruel abduction of some innocent girls, our future mothers and leaders in a very horrific and despicable situation in Borno State, is quite regrettable.
“The government is constantly reviewing and upgrading mechanism to curb this mindless act and, together with the cooperation of the citizenry, we shall triumph over all these evils that want to debase our humanity or obstruct our progress as a nation.
“Those who want to re-write our history negatively will not be allowed to do that. “Those who want to re-define our country to be seen as a country of chaos will never succeed,” he said.
In his remarks, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Abdulwaheed Omar, observed that the nation was confronted with a serious situation, adding that the war on terror had not achieved the desired results in spite of the efforts put in so far.
He noted that security forces, though gallant, had not demonstrated enough resolve to end the crisis.
According to him, “we do not need anyone to tell us that we have a serious situation on our hands.
How FG can rescue them —Sheikh Gumi
From Kolawole Daniel and Johnson Babajide
A retired army officer and renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Abubakar Gumi, has said since time was against the criminals who might have abducted the missing girls from Chibok in Borno State, the Federal Government should encircle all outlets from the Sambisa forest and take aerial surveillance that would help capture of the criminals.
Gumi, in a statement in Kaduna, on Thursday, wondered why the military would not use the drone purportedly manufactured by the Kaduna Air Force Institute of Technology, insisting that if the locally manufactured drone was not a dummy, now was the time to test its authenticity in the Sambisa forest, where the Chibok girls were being held captive.
He said abducting over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok under a military state of emergency proved the absolute failure and breakdown of defence in the region, lamenting that “nobody wanted to take the responsibility and honorably resign for more responsible officials to clear the mess.”
According to him, ”when there was a bomb blast in Jaji cantonment during the hey days of explosions in the northern capital cities, the cantonment commandant was sacked and retired from the army.
“This spirit of accountability has suddenly vanished, as it has suddenly appeared in that strange case as the unit in charge of the security in the cantonment was not under the commandant.”
“This abduction is an end game for whoever is responsible for the killings, bombings and terror all over in general. The abductors must be identified. These girls hold the answers to all the melodrama that is called war against Book Haram,” he said.
Women threaten to walk naked to Sambisa
As women converged on Lagos and other parts of the country to demonstrate against alleged government’s insensitivity to the plight of the missing Borno girls, a mother, who said her name was Ajoke, threatened that they would soon trek naked to the Sambisa forest, on a search and rescue mission for the abducted students.
She spoke on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa, monitored in Kaduna, on Thursday, asking the government to mobilise troops and rescue the girls safely.
Similarly, an aggrieved mother from Chibok told the BBC Hausa that they had given an ultimatum for their daughters to be rescued, adding that they would have no option but to storm the Sambisa forest and take the bull by the horn.
Kaduna women cry over Chibok girls
It was wailing and crying in Kaduna, on Thursday, as hundreds of women, accompanied by male sympathisers, converged on Murtala Square, where they asked government to rescue the missing female students in Borno State.
Hajiya Sa’adatu Hama, who spoke to journalists on behalf of the aggrieved women, said “even if these girls are spirits, government should have secured their release by now. We cannot just imagine government saying that it needs the help of foreign powers before it can secure the release of over 200 schoolgirls.
“This is not good enough, but if one person dies in Abuja today, the whole government functionaries will converge on Abuja. But where are our daughters? Government must bring them out for us.”
The police in Kaduna had a hectic time appealing to the women not to go out of order, even as attempt by a senior government official to calm the women down failed.
Abducted schoolgirls: Minister calls for prayer •Benue gov’s wife pleads with abductors
MINISTER of Environment, Mrs Laurencia Laraba Mallam on Thursday called on all Nigerians to pray for the safe return of the schoolgirls, who were abducted from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State to their parents, hale and healthy.
The Minister, who made the call at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Environment, during the commissioning of a 36-seater bus, provided to the Ministry by the Office of the Head of Service, also commended all Nigerian workers for their dedication and tireless efforts, which have helped to steer the nation towards greatness.
The minister equally thanked the staff of the Ministry for their dedication to duty and cooperation, promising to continue with her open-door policy and ensure that all staff matters were treated with the urgency they deserve.
According to her, “the zeal and determination being exhibited in the discharge of duties of all workers in Ministry of Environment has continued to shine and cannot go unnoticed. I therefore, urge you to continue with such so that together, we can achieve the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan”.
Meanwhile, wife of Benue State governor and Chairperson of Northern Governors Wives Forum, Mrs Yemisi Suswam has pleaded with the abductors of the over 200 schoolgirls to release them for humanity’s sake.
Speaking at her 47th birthday anniversary lecture, organised in her honour by staff of the Government House, Mrs Suswam urged the abductors to “harken to the plea of well-meaning Nigerians and release the innocent girls.”
According to her, “None of us mothers can actually sleep well since the girls were forcefully taken away; that is the agony we are all passing through in the last two weeks.
“We plead for their unconditional release in the interest of humanity so that they can unite with their families again.”
Mrs Suswam, who cautioned the political class against politicising the security situation in the country, said the government would overcome the challenges with the support of all Nigerians.
“We all owe it a duty as Nigerians to rally round our leaders in times of challenges to give them support rather than castigate and deride them even before the international community.
“This is actually the time for each and everyone of us to stand up and be counted in this time of our history that the country is contending with strange forces, who are against the peace and stability of our country”, she said.
· Benue gov’s wife pleads with abductors