Parents of students of Government Girls Secondary School Chibok, Borno state, abducted by Boko Haram insurgents since last Monday, yesterday gave conflicting figures of the remaining girls still being held by the insurgents.
According to the parents, no fewer than 234 girls were still missing, while only 39 others escaped from the militants.
Malam Shettima A. Haruna, who spoke on behalf of the affected parents, disclosed this when Governor Kashim Shettima visited the visited the area to sympathise with them over the incident.
Malam Haruna insisted that all the figures of the abducted girls earlier released were not accurate, saying so far only 39 students have escaped from their captors.
“We have been hearing series of reports on the number of the kidnapped girls, which we felt did not tally with exact figures in our possession.
To be frank, your Excellency, the exact numbers of our daughters yet to be found presently are 234, while only 39 have escaped from the insurgents. We call on the security forces to expedite more action towards securing the release of our children”, the distressed father told the governor.
He added: Your Excellency we have been having sleepless nights since the incident occur because no one can predict the fate of the girls, all we are asking is for the security forces to put more efforts to ensure that our daughters are freed unhurt”.
Also commenting, another parent, Pogu Yaga, told the governor that 450 parents and relations had earlier embarked on personal search-and-rescue mission inside the Sambisa forest, where the girls were believed to have been held.
Yags explained that the parents were compelled to embark on what he described as ‘dangerous’ expedition when they realised that security operatives were not doing enough to rescue the girls.
“Your Excellency when we realised that our daughters’ lives were in serious danger, with little or no intervention from the military, we resolved to select some men among us to go deep into the forest to search for them.
We used 150 motorcycles, each carrying three persons for the mission we rode for 25 kilometers into the dangerous forest before we started coming across some individuals who kept directing us to particular locations, they believed we might find the missing girls”, he said.
The parent said the over 12-hour expedition ended fruitless, as they had to return home at a particular point, when they were warned that they risked being killed if they attempted to cross over to the no-go area zone, believed to be the centre of the Boko Haram camp.
“In the course of the voluntary mission, we crossed over a makeshift bridge and asked one old man if he has a clue as to the whereabouts of some girls abducted by Boko Haram, the man replied that the girls and the captors pass through a particular direction. But he warned us not take risk by proceeding to the area because the insurgents have sophisticated weapons and we cannot confront them.
The man warned that any attempt to reach the camp may be suicidal as we might be killed together with the girls; he therefore adviced us to return home and seek the support of the military. So, that was how our expedition ended; in fact, due to the bad terrain of the road, some of us slept in the forest when their bikes broke down”, he narrated.
In his remarks, Governor Shettima urged the parents to be calm, assuring that security agents are on top of the situation and expressed optimism that the girls would be freed unhurt.
“We are deeply saddened by this terrible incident; we are with you at all times. As a responsive government, we would not fold our arms to allow the innocent girls remain in hands of criminals”, he declared.
Shettima also said government would renovate the burnt school and rebuild houses and other structures destroyed by the militants.