17th April, 2014
Asabe Kwambura, principal of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State has denied reports from the military that most of the students kidnapped from her school by Islamists were now safe.
She said only 14 of the 129 girls taken had escaped and that was the figure she could confirm.
“The report from the military is not true,” Kwambura said, referring to an official claim that only eight of the girls were still being held.
She specified that Wednesday’s report by Governor Kashim Shettima that only 14 had safely returned home was “correct.”
Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said on 16 April that all but eight of the girls were safe, citing the principal of the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok.
The mass kidnap, which has sparked global outrage, came just hours after the deadliest attack ever in the capital Abuja, where a bomb blast also blamed on Boko Haram killed at least 75 people.
“For the military (which) is supposed to find and rescue our children to be spreading such lies shows that they have no intention of rescuing our girls,” said Lawan Zanna, a Chibok resident whose daughter was among those taken.
“It is the highest form of insult,” he added. “They said our girls have been freed… Bring them to us because they are yet to be reunited with us.”
Boko Haram has repeatedly attacked schools and universities during an extremist uprising that has killed thousands of people since 2009.
Borno’s governor has offered a 50 million naira ($300,000, 216,000 euro) reward to anyone with information leading to the return of the schoolgirls.
Parents in Chibok swarmed the home of the area’s tribal chief on Thursday, demanding clarification after the military claim, residents said.
“The feeling that the military was in pursuit of the kidnappers kept hope alive among parents,” said one resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The dubious report that most of the children were now safe “has shattered that hope”, he said.