Presidential Fact-finding Committee on the abducted Chibok schoolgirls yesterday submitted its report to President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa.
Chairman of the committee, Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Sabo while submitting the report, disclosed that a total of 119 students escaped from the premises during the siege on the school on April 14.
He also revealed that 276 students were abducted, while 57 escaped from the clutches of the insurgents and had reunited with their families.
He said those who escaped did so along the zig-zag transport route taken by the insurgents, or by bolting to safety when the insurgents laid-by for a rest, while 219 students remained unaccounted for.
Sabo reported to the president that the committee received the full co-operation of all the stakeholders.
“In addition to nominating three representatives who participated actively in the proceedings of the Committee, the state government also facilitated access to a number of stakeholders.
“Indeed, the Committee interacted with persons and groups considered relevant to the realisation of our fact-finding mandate. The singular exception was a senator from Borno who, after agreeing to an appointment with the committee, turned around to avoid the meeting, on the excuse that he had another appointment, and would thereafter be unavailable for another one month, or so. Not that his non-appearance has materially, or in any way, affected the outcome of the committee’s findings.
“But the senator’s avoidance of an interface with the Committee may well speak to a motive not too difficult to discern.”
The committee chairman noted that the report covered the six terms of reference that guided its work.
The terms of reference according to him, were to liaise with the Borno State government and establish the circumstances leading to the school remaining open for boarding students when other schools were closed; to liaise with relevant authorities and parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted; and to ascertain how many of the abducted students have returned.
Sabo expressed the committee’s gratitude to the numerous sources and stakeholders with whom the committee interfaced in the course of its fact-finding mission.
“The Committee’s interactions took place in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as well as Chibok.
“Your Excellency, in carrying out its assignment, the Committee was not unmindful of the circumstances that led to the committee’s composition and inauguration. After Boko Haram struck at Chibok on the 14th of April, this year, there were varying and conflicting accounts of what happened, and even more so of the number of persons affected by the unspeakable atrocities on that night of April the 14th.
“As most Nigerians already know, there were some persons who doubted whether, in fact, any student was abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok. On the other hand, for those who believed that there was abduction, there were lingering doubts as to how such a number of kidnap victims were conveyed, considering also that information was sparse as to how the raiding insurgents evacuated the victims.
“Details of the circumstances of Government Secondary School, Chibok, remaining open, in spite of the ravages of Boko Haram in the state, are contained in the report of the committee. Also contained in the report is the detailed explanation of the pain-staking measures taken by the committee in arriving at the number of students still to be accounted for.
“Permit me, Mr President, to convey the burning hope, wishes, and fervent prayers of the parents and relatives of the abducted schoolgirls, who desire that their daughters and wards be rescued alive and reunited with their families,” the committee boss averred.
Responding, President Goodluck Jonathan directed school owners especially in the North-east who are providing houses, to ensure that adequate security is provided for the students.
According to the president, if adequate security had been provided, the schoolgirls in Chibok would not have been abducted by Boko Haram.
“Everybody that owns schools, especially in the North East, if they must keep students in boarding, there must be a basic security provision.
“I am not expecting a battalion of army in the schools but even if we had five policemen guiding that school that night, the students could not have been deceived into believing that the insurgents were taking them into protective custody.
“The story is that the abductors came in military uniforms and told the students that they are taking them to safety so that they won’t be attacked by Boko Haram.
“If there were at least five policemen on duty that night, they would have alerted the students. Even if there would be abduction, the number could not have been as high as this,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan assured that security agencies would not sleep until the girls were rescued.
He also added that federal government would rebuild the Chibok school using Army engineers, after the schoolgirls must have been safely rescued.
“The federal government is going to rebuild the Chibok school. We will use Army engineers to build a school that will be secured. All buildings there will be demolished and rebuilt. That will start after the children are rescued.
“On completion, the Federal Government will not manage the school because it is a state school. We will hand it over to the state government to manage,” he added.
The president assured the committee that Security Council would study its report and take the necessary actions on it.