The Borno State government has reacted to Mrs Kema Chikwe's shocking statement yesterday at a prayer session held for national security at PDP's national secretariat in Abuja doubting if the girls were actually abducted.
Mrs. Kema Chikwe, the National Women Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had publicly questioned the story of the abduction of teenage school girls in Chibok, Borno State, saying there were many unanswered questions concerning the kidnap.
Among them, according to her, are: "How did it happen? Who saw it happen? Who did not see it happen? Who is behind this?” And towards obtaining answers, she demanded that the principal of the school should release the names and photographs of the abducted girls.
The Borno State government now says it would publish the names and pictures of the abducted girls, if permitted by tomorrow. The statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Media, Isa Gusau, reads:
“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.
By her remark, Chikwe has undermined the integrity of all 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 for holding a National Security Council meeting and deliberating on something that was doubtful and yet giving directives to address it.
This incident happened 17 days ago, every Nigerian expects that by now, the security agencies must have been carrying out investigations that might have included debriefing some of the girls that escaped from captivity, speaking with parents and other students of the schools.
Chikwe’s remark seems to attack the integrity of the security agencies, giving the impression that nothing was done.
Unlike Kema Chikwe that seeks to undermine the integrity of the security agencies and the President, what we do know and believe is that the President, Goodluck Jonathan, couldn’t have deemed it necessary to host an expanded National Security Council that was attended by him, all Security chiefs, Governors of the 36 States and key leaders of this country during which the schoolgirls was extensively discussed if the President was not properly briefed by the security agencies under the Federal Government, that schoolgirls were abducted.
The school was virtually razed now, security agencies know this and they know that the attack and abduction took place. The Defence Headquarters have issued several statements including one that says forces were closing in on the abductors; we therefore wonder why Chikwe should make mockery of all of these patriotic efforts.
Even though most of the school buildings were razed during that attack and property vandalised, records of schoolgirls that registered for WAEC and NECO exams cannot be a difficult one to get since the examination bodies are there with records. In addition to that, parents lodged complaints that should naturally have the names of their children or wards. It is expectedly thought that security agencies would by now, have necessary information about these girls which might include their records.
However, the Borno State Government has a comprehensive data that includes pictures of the missing students and those that returned, which the Government is ready to publish on Friday, May 2, 2014 if the Defence Headquarters which has since been managing information on counter insurgency operations in the Northeast, gives the go ahead and Mrs Chikwe, who now knows more than the security can ensure that.
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 are revealed, they could be stigmatized even after being rescued. Doubt raised by Mrs Chikwe displays insensitivity to the plight of parents of these girls and to the feelings of all Borno people. The Borno State Government is the most troubled by the incident.
The Governor of Borno State is as should be expected, under so much pressure from families and community members of Chibok and indeed the rest of the State. These girls are daughters of Borno, by being abducted while in school, the Borno State Government naturally comes under more pressure because they were abducted while being under our care as a Government, the school was not the only one in session when that attack took place, there were other schools were girls were writing exams. It might recalled that sometime back when there was rumours that some schoolgirls were abducted following an attack in Konduga, Governor Shettima directed a prompt investigation and after it was found out that no student was recorded missing, the Government told Nigerians that there was nothing like that.
Even on the one of Chibok which is the topic of discussion, Governor Shettima announced that 129 girls were at school as at the time of the attack, it was during his visit that parents who filed reports about missing students said the girls were over 200, it was clear to everyone that the Governor never had any intention of making claims of large numbers of missing persons.
It is important that the Nigeria security agencies call Mrs Chikwe to order so she desist from mocking the National Security Council and misleading Nigerians and rest of the world that have been attracted by this unfortunate incident which has left the Government and people of Borno State highly distressed.”