Kidnapped schoolgirls: Nigeria extends search to Cameroon, Chad borders

The Nigerian military has begun a deployment

of soldiers along the country's northern

borders as part of efforts to rescue

schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the Boko

Haram sect on Monday night, SUNDAY PUNCH

authoritatively reports

No fewer than 129 girls were kidnapped from

Government Girls Secondary school, Chibok,

Borno State.

A day after the attack, 14 of the girls escaped

when one of the lorries in which they were

being conveyed broke down. On Friday,

another 14 escaped from their abductors,

close to a Cameroon border, leaving 85 in the

custody of the sect.

The principal of the school, Mrs. Asabe

Kwambura, reportedly said members of the

sect were dressed in military uniforms.

The Defence Headquarters had on Wednesday

said the military had rescued 107 girls of the

abducted pupils.

But on Thursday, Kwambura faulted the claim

of the Defence Headquarters that 107 girls

had been rescued.

Kwambura, had, in an interview with the BBC

Hausa Service, said apart from the 14 pupils

that escaped from the sect, she was not aware

of any that had been released.

She had described the statement of the

military as "a blatant lie."

The Defence Headquarters later on

Wednesday night retracted its statement on

the release of the 107 schoolgirls.

In a statement by the Director of Defence

Information, Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the

military authorities said, "In the light of the

denial by the principal of the school, the

Defence Headquarters wishes to defer to the

school principal and the governor's statement

on the number of students still missing."

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt on Friday that the

troops were deployed in the borders with

Niger, Chad and Cameroon, with the largest

concentration along the Cameroonian area.

A top military source who pleaded anonymity

told our correspondent that the military was

concentrating on the borders because

members of the sect might want to sneak the

schoolgirls out of Nigeria.

The source said, "There has been a large

movement of troops along Nigerian borders.

Soldiers are being conveyed in buses as part

of efforts to rescue the girls.

"The information we have is that the

kidnappers are still within Nigeria, especially

within the Sambisa terrain, hence the

deployment of more troops at borders to

prevent their escape to neighbouring


When our correspondent contacted Olukolade,

he confirmed the deployment, adding that

soldiers were still in pursuit of those holding

the schoolgirls.

'The deployment is part of the entire

operation; it is part of the general operation

there. Soldiers are still in pursuit of those who

are holding them," he said

He declined to make further comments.

Our correspondent further learnt that when

the girls were abducted, the sect ambushed

security forces that were chasing them, killing

a soldier in the process.

Another top security source told SUNDAY

PUNCH that the sect might have divided the

girls into different groups and separated them

to make it impossible to get all the girls in

one place.

He said, "The soldiers that were going to

intervene were ambushed on the way. One

soldier died in the ambush; soldiers fought

through the ambush and continued their

movement but they were delayed. The

planners were meticulous; they planned for


"We have an intelligence report that it might

be difficult to retrieve all the girls in one

group; they (the sect) have divided the girls

into small groups, which will make it difficult

to get them all in one spot."

One of the girls who escaped was said to have

disclosed that the sect members did not

harass them sexually.

The security source, who confided in our

correspondent, quoted the girl to have said,

"They didn't mess us up, but they (the sect

members) told us to cook food for them. We

also have a report that they have not reached

their destination."

The Special Adviser to President Goodluck

Jonathan on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben

Abati, declined commenting on the Federal

Government's rescue mission for the

kidnapped girls. He said it was a matter for

security agencies to comment on.

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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