- As Shettima offers N50m bounty for information on abducted girls
From Mustapha Kwaru, Maiduguri
One hundred and twenty-one of the abducted students of the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state have been freed by troops pursuing the suspected members of the Boko Haram sect believed to have carried out the abduction, Director of Defence Information, Brigadier-General Chris OluKolade has said.
According to a statement issued by the Director Defence Information and Coordinator, Major-General Chris Olukolade, some 129 students were abducted on Monday night by a group of terrorists.
Reports said about 200 girls were abducted.
The girls were abducted after the group raided the host community in Chibok, a town on the border between Borno and Adamawa states.
The witnesses said the gunmen, who came in Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles, stormed the town and kept firing sporadic gunshots before setting ablaze several houses and shops.
It was also disclosed that the hoodlums carted away several bags of grains and other food items into waiting trucks and buses as residents fled into bushes and farmlands.
Residents also confirmed that the insurgents did not kill any resident or leaders in the town, but the female students were abducted and taken to unknown destination in the forest.
Report says members of the terrorist group killed a soldier guarding the school and inflicted injuries on several villagers before the heavily armed insurgents ordered the girls into a truck and took them away.
This is even as the state government has announced a N50 million reward for any individual who offers useful information that could lead to the whereabouts of the kidnapped girls.
Briefing newsmen on the update of the abduction saga yesterday, Governor Kashim Shettima declared that four of the affected students had earlier escaped on the day of the incident, while 10 others escaped yesterday.
Shettima pointed out that the first set of the four managed to escaped as they were being taken away to the forest, while the 10 fled after they were taken to Boko Haram camp.
“As you are aware, we are battling with the pathetic case of abducting a quite number of our girls. This incident calls for sober reflection, it is a moment of sad and not time for apportioning blames.
“We have given instruction to security agencies to marshal out all available plans to rescue the girls. So far, 14 girls were found. Four recovered on the day they were kidnapped, while 10 escaped from the camp yesterday, after they were forced to go and cook for the insurgents”, he declared.
Shettima said since the occurrence of the incident, government has been in contact with relevant authorities in the area in order to get latest development.
Shettima noted that government would leave no stone unturned in its bid to ensure that the students regain their freedom unhurt.
“We place the sum of N50 million reward for anybody who offers useful information that can lead to unveil the whereabout of the innocent girls. They are our daughters and cannot fold our arms to allow them being held in the hands of criminals.
The governor further assured parents of affected students that their daughters would be freed unhurt.
“Parents should be calm, we are making concrete efforts to ensure that no single girl is hurt during the rescue operation”, he noted.
In the meantime, hundreds of heavily armed soldiers have begun ground and aerial operations to rescue the hostages inside Sambisa Forest and on the Gwoza hills, which are believed to be the major hide-outs of the Boko Haram militants.