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200 Rescued Girls Not From Chibok – Borno Govt
Hopes that the abducted Chibok girls might have been found at last were dashed Wednesday when the Borno State government announced that the 200 girls rescued by Nigerian troops in Sambisa Forest are from another village in the state.
The government said that the 200 girls and 93 women rescued along with them after Nigerian troops stormed Sambisa Forest are from Bumsiri, a village in Damboa local government area of Borno State.
The news of the rescue of 293 girls and women after the military operation in Sambisa Forest had fuelled speculations that the Chibok girls who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in April 2014 had finally been found.
But the Borno State Information commissioner, Ibrahim Bulama, confirmed to journalists in Maiduguri on Wednesday that the girls are not the Chibok girls.
He said that investigations revealed that the girls and women were abducted by insurgents at different times and that the state government was already making plans to ensure their rehabilitation.
He said that the state government decided to provide the public with the information because of speculations that they were the girls kidnapped in Chibok last year.
“These girls and women rescued are still our daughters as much as the Chibok girls and we have to commend the military for liberating them, hoping that the rest will equally be liberated,” Bulama stated.
“Though everyone had thought they were the Chibok girls because of the hype surrounding the abduction of the Chibok girls, but we should not lose sight that they are as important as the Chibok girls and those that were still in captivity which we hope would be liberated soon,” he stated further.
The commissioner commended the Nigerian military for the effort that led to the rescue of the girls and women and expressed the hope that any others still in captivity would equally be rescued and reunited with their families.
Before their rescue, there had been no indication that close to 300 women and girls had been abducted from a little known village in Borno State, fuelling fears that there might be several other cases of unknown or unreported mass kidnap of vulnerable people by Boko Haram members. .
Thousands of people, including children, young girls and boys, women and men are still believed to be in Boko Haram captivity but it is not know where they are being held and fears have been expressed about such persons, particularly as the military says it has destroyed all known strongholds of the dreaded terrorist group.
The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, had earlier commended the military for the rescue of the 293 girls and women saying that it was “gratifying regardless of whether or not the rescued women were form part of the over two hundred schoolgirls stolen by insurgents at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14, 2014.”
In a statement issued by his media adviser, Isa Gusau, the governor stated that the lives, safety and well-being of all citizens of Borno State are of equal importance to him, adding that he was celebrating the even like he would do the rescue of the Chibok girls.
“This rescue is also very dear to me. I am as pleased as much as I would be when the Chibok schoolgirls are rescued by the special grace of God. I am very optimistic, prayerful and supportive of the military’s on going rescue and counter insurgency operations,” the governor said.
Shettima, however, observed that he would prefer that the military remain the principal channel of information to the public about the rescue mission in order to avoid multiple sources of information that could bring about confusion.
“I kindly urge the media to refer to the military for updates on the matter so that there are no mixups at any point. I kindly call on all citizens of Borno and other fellow Nigerians to pray for our armed forces and volunteers to succeed so that good will triumph over evil,” he said.
Governor Shettima also expressed hope that the Chibok girls would be eventually rescued too.
“We won’t give up on the Chibok schoolgirls like I said two weeks ago. No sane parent gives up on a missing child. I have daughters and I know the love of a parent to the girl child. For now, it is better to allow the military handle things, conduct their investigations and ascertain the identity of those rescued but irrespective of the identity of the girls, we are very happy they have been rescued whether they are citizens of Borno or anywhere else.
“We have abiding faith in God that he will see us through these times and we shall overcome the temporary but traumatic moment of grief. God will set Chibok girls and all Nigerians free from fear and the brutality of Boko Haram Insurgents and others in their league,” the governor said.