Once they are freed, the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, has promised to relocate the abducted Chibok schoolgirls to other parts of the country to conclude their secondary school education.
The governor’s statement coincided with news from Borno State that Boko Haram terrorists who have turned his state into a killing field continued their onslaught on villages and a church in the state, resulting in the death of 24 persons, including 14 suspected terrorists.
The governor said the state government would shoulder the responsibility of sponsoring all the girls to school in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Kaduna and other states in the country to repeat their final year and prepare them properly for their final year examinations.
The girls were sitting for their West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) when they were kidnapped from their hostel on the night of April 14.
Shettima said: “It is mandatory for the state government to ensure the speedy return or release of the girls and it is the sole responsibility of government to see that these our children are back home without politicising the matter.
“This is not politics, there is no need to play politics with the abduction of these children. We have children and we know what it is for these girls to be missing. We are human beings and should have feelings.”
He argued that the responsibility of maintaining security in the state was not his under emergency rule.
“Everything is in Abuja,” he said, adding that people stay put in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and cast doubts over the girls’ abduction.
“But we all have children and we know what it is to have a missing child and nothing is being done to rescue them before harm is inflicted on them. It worries me and it is so painful,” he said.
On what his government had been doing to console the parents of the abducted schoolgirls, Shettima said: “We have been directing the Chibok Local Government Chairman, Baana Lawal, and other community leaders to help us talk to them, appeal to them and console them on our behalf before we also come and also appeal to them too and console them over the delay in the release of their children.
“We are not unmindful of the trauma and plight they have been exposed to. The parents are suffering. The students too are suffering. Some do not even sleep because of their children.”
Shettima said the reason for the briefing was to appeal to the parents of the girls to continue to exercise restraint and be patient, saying: “We are doing our best and we shall not relent in our efforts to cushion your suffering and ensure the quick release of our daughters.”
Shettima also directed the Chibok council chairman to compile a comprehensible list and modalities on how the state government could be of assistance to the parents of the abducted schoolgirls and the girls who escaped from captivity while plans for their education outside the state is being pursued.
Earlier, Lawal, who led the parents of the abducted schoolgirls to the governor, said he could only come with 27 students out of the 57 who regained their freedom, explaining that the families of 30 of the other girls that escaped had relocated to other parts of the country just as some parents have left Chibok.
DHQ: Our Focus is to Save Girls
Notwithstanding the plans by the Borno State Government to relocate the abducted schoolgirls to other schools nationwide, the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major-Gen Chris Olukolade, has restated that the main objective of the military and coalition effort is concentrated on their rescue.
Olukolade stated this yesterday, while speaking at the regular briefing by the National Information Centre located in the headquarters of National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja.
He said: “The essence of every ongoing activity by the military and other paramilitary agencies concerning the Chibok girls is to get our girls back safely and the three things that are paramount include the public interest, the safety of the girls and the wider interest of winning the war agains terror.”
He also cautioned the public to be vigilant at local bars and football viewing centres with the World Cup just a few days away.
“We want to appeal to members of the public who would be watching the matches at public viewing centres to be extra vigilant and report suspicious individuals to security agents,” he advised.
He said the joint efforts of troops and other security operatives in recent weeks had helped to foil several planned attacks on civilian targets in parts of the country as a result of improved intelligence gathering.
Also, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, gave an update on one of the masterminds of the Nyanya bus station bombing, Sadiq Ogwuche, who was arrested by Interpol in Sudan.
Mba said a high-ranking Interpol operative had left Nigeria since last week for Sudan with all the necessary documents to secure his extradition, adding that the fugitive would soon be back in the country to face the law.
Mba also appealed to the media and the public at large to exercise restraint in the way they speculate and analyse the status of the kidnapped girls.