Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State has described as unfortunate a statement credited to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, Women Leader, Kema Chikwe, which raised doubt on the abduction of over 200 female students from Government Secondary School, Chibok.
The women leader during a prayer session tagged “Women’s Christian and Muslim prayer session for the security and unity of the nation” which held at the PDP national headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday, said the abduction of the girls leaves so many questions unanswered.
She noted, “There are many questions to be asked and many more to be answered. How did it happen? Who saw it happen? Who did not see it happen? Who is behind this?”
Chikwe said further, “Let the truth be told with God’s intervention. Our hearts are bleeding, not just broken. Please, God, send the Chibok girls home to their mothers and families. We plead with the school authorities to release their names and their pictures. Let God touch the hearts of those who know and have perpetrated this heinous action.”
Reacting through his special adviser on media, Isa Gusau, the governor accused Chikwe of playing politics with the matter, adding that she has undermined the integrity of Nigeria’s security forces because her questions appear to mean that the security agencies in the country do not know what they are doing.
“We have read with very rude shock, media reports attributed to National Women Leader of the PDP, raising doubts on whether indeed, schoolgirls were abducted at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok on April 14, 2014 or not. This is clear case of bringing politics into a serious national issue that bothers on the lives of over 200 schoolgirls which is highly unfortunate,” Shettima said.
He noted that President Goodluck Jonathan could not have deemed it necessary to host an expanded National Security Council meeting which had in attendance all security chiefs, governors of the 36 States and religious leaders, during which the issue of the abducted school girls was extensively discussed if he had not been properly briefed by the security agencies.
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The governor noted that during the attack, the school was virtually razed down and that the state government has a comprehensive data that includes pictures of the missing students and those that returned, which it is ready to publish on Friday (tomorrow), if the Defence Headquarters which has since been managing information on counter insurgency operations in the Northeast permits.
“Our fear is not to reveal names that would reveal religion and family backgrounds which could at the end, compromise the safety of these girls; provide basis for families to be reached with demands for ransom or be accused of undermining rescue efforts or sensationalism. In addition to these, abduction of girls are sometimes interpreted to mean automatic rape, where the identity of these girls are revealed, they could be stigmatized even after being rescued,” Shettima added.
He said it was important for security agencies to call Chikwe to order so that the image of the country is not further damaged by misleading remarks.