The federal government yesterday disclosed that it had intensified the ongoing search for the 110 girls abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State, saying the operation had been extended to the neighbouring countries.
Nigeria shares boundary with Niger, Chad and Cameroon in the North East and security forces in the three countries have been collaborating in the ongoing war against Boko Haram.
This is just as a human rights activist, Mrs Aisha Wakil, has claimed that a faction of Boko Haram had contacted her to confirm that the girls are in its possession.
Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, revealed the extension of the search for the girls in neighbouring countries in a statement he issued in Abuja yesterday.
He said top military and security officials on Thursday travelled to the North East to add urgency to the search, which had now been extended beyond the North East theatre of the war against insurgency.
The security officials include the nation’s top military officer and Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, and the director-general of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura.
They have now joined the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, who had earlier relocated to the North East, as well as the national security adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno (retd).
The federal government had earlier released the names and other details of the 110 girls who are missing following an attack on the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, 2018.
The panel set up by the federal government to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the girls was inaugurated on Thursday by the NSA.
…Boko Haram Has Contacted Me
Meanwhile, an activist, Mrs Aisha Wakil, has claimed that the Barnawi faction of Boko Haram had called her to confirm that it was in possession of the missing Dapchi schoolgirls.
Aisha Wakil, also known as Mama Boko Haram, was a member of the Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges Committee in the northern region set up during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
In an interview with The News Agency of Nigeria, the activist said the Barnawi faction of Boko Haram contacted her on Thursday.
She added that the abductors confirmed to her that the girls were safe, healthy and in good condition.
In an interview with an online medium, PRNigeria, earlier this week, Wakil had called on the abductors to release the girls to enable them to be reunited with their families.
Wakil, who is said to have communication links with Boko Haram and is respected by some leaders of the sect, declared that she was ready to sacrifice her life to rescue the girls.
Wakil said: “They are even the ones that called me and said ‘Mama, we heard what you have said’ and told me that they are with the girls and they are going to release them.
“I begged of them and said ‘please, let this not be another 1,000-plus days of Chibok girls, and they laughed and said no. I asked them where I can come and stay with them (girls) for two days, but they did not say anything.
“I can assure Nigerians that, so far, they are with my son, Habib, and his friends. Habib is a nice guy: he is very nice boy; he will not harm them; he will not touch them, and he will not kill them.
“He is going to listen to us, and so far he has indicated interest that he loves peace, and I love them for that and believe what they said on this.
“They will definitely give us the girls. All I am begging Nigerians is to calm down, be prayerful, everything will soon be over by God’s grace”.
Wakil had at various times played key roles in negotiations between the military authorities and Boko Haram commanders, which facilitated the release of numerous kidnap victims from the terrorists’ captivity.
PMB, Saraki Condemn Killing Of Aid Workers in Borno
President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bokola Saraki have condemned the attack on humanitarian workers in Rann, the headquarters of Kala Balge Local Government Area of Borno State.
President Buhari criticised the killing of the aid workers in a statement by his special assistant on media, Femi Adesina, yesterday in Abuja.
He said the incidence more than ever showed Boko Haram insurgents as godless, brutish, and utterly to be despised.
“As I have always maintained, no true religion advocates hurting the innocent. To now further attack and kill those offering humanitarian aid is the height of bestiality. It is odious before both God and man,” the president said, while sympathising with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies working at Rann, and in the country generally.
According to him, such cowardly attacks can only bolster the determination of government to bring the Boko Haram insurgency to a decisive end in the shortest possible time.
On his part, the president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, described the attack as the handiwork of cowardly people.
In a tweet on his personal handle ‘@BukolaSaraki’, he described the attack that led to the deaths of several humanitarian workers as cowardly, and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
He said: “My prayers are with the people of Rann, Borno State, at this time.
“Last night’s despicable attack that led to the deaths of several aid workers is a callous and cowardly act. Our security forces must not relent until they bring the perpetrators of this atrocity to justice.”