By: SAYO AKINTOLA
The Defence Headquarters has retracted its earlier statement confirming the release of the abducted Chibok girls. The spokesman for the defence headquarters, Gen. Chris Olukolade, on Tuesday said that a yet unclear number of the girls had been freed and driven in two Toyota Hiace buses to the Maimalari Barracks, the headquarters of the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri
The Street journal, through a top military source, confirmed that two buses filled with the released girls were driven into the Maimalari Barracks in Maiduguri today, September 23, 2014, after being held for many months.
But less than 30 minutes after the announcement, Olukolade sent out another statement retracting the earlier position of the Defence Headquarters. He said he had been having difficulties establishing contact with his colleagues in Maiduguri and that he was no longer sure that the girls driven into the barracks were newly rescued. Mr. Olukolade had said the girls had been freed and that the rescue exercise was still ongoing and that appropriate statement would be made later.
However, shortly after the news of the girl’s release spread across the country like a wide inferno in the winter, Nigerians went into ecstatic jubilation on Tuesday (September 23, 2014) expressing gratitude to God that the girls were still alive after all. The joy was however, short-lived as the Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters despicably retracted the earlier statement announcing the arrival of the girls that were kidnapped in their school dormitory at Chibok Government Girls School, Borno State.
It was learnt that the girls driven into the Maimalari barracks were those who escaped earlier from the Boko Haram sect. The over 200 girls, mostly teenagers, were kidnapped from their secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, on April 14. With the military withdrawing its statement, it now does appear the girls are still in captivity.
Many Nigerians who spoke with The Street Journal expressed disappointment in the rather shoddy manner the Defence Headquarters has been handling information management on the menace of Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
They said in unison that the way the military had been making sensitive statements and retracting same almost immediately smacks of insincerity. They lamented that the military that wanted Nigerians to believe in them and their capability had continued to play on Nigerians’ sensibilities with the way it had managed insecurity in the country since the beginning of the crisis.
A security expert, Dr Wilson Agbaje-Ojo, advised the Defence Headquarters to always cross-check its facts and figures before rushing to the media to divulge vital information. He noted with dismay how the parents of the affected girls would feel after listening to the later announcement that retracted the earlier statement. ‘’I don’t think it’s fair to treat these people this way that the military has been treating them’’, he said.
‘’Look at the way our military is fighting over who killed Shekrau with Cameroon as if Cameroon is the victim of Boko Haram insurgency’’, he lamented, adding that rather than give the neighbouring country all the necessary support, ‘’ our military is trying to take credit for Shekrau’s death when they are not even sure whether or not he has been killed until the Cameroonians released a photograph of the slain leader of Boko Haram.
Another security expert, Dr Olawale Okunniyi noted with dismay why activities of the Nigeria’s military had generated so much controversy. He said when people were economic with the truth; there would always be problems of trying to cover up their tracts. Rather than fight over who killed Shekrau, he said the Nigerian military should focus on how to end the insurgency in the country in good time and bring back the Chibok girls alive.