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Chibok: Shettima Faults Chikwe's Statement On Abducted Schoolgirls

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…Says It's Playing Politics Beyond The Bound
SAN FRANCISCO, April 30, (THEWILL) â€' Embattled Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, Wednesday, lambasted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Women Leader, Chief (Mrs) Kema Chikwe, over a statement credited to her which doubted the abduction of over 200 female students from the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.

Describing the statement as unfortunate, Shettima said the statement was not only an affront on the nation's security agencies but also undermines what the country stands for.

Shettima, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media, Mallam Isa Gusau, also described Chikwe's statement as playing politics beyond the bound, wondering what informed such statement when the entire country was in a sober mood over the incident.

The statement said: '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 borders on the lives of over 200 schoolgirls which is highly unfortunate.

'We find that report a big affront that undermines the National Security Council which held a meeting that dwelt extensively on the matter with a directive to the armed forces to rescue the girls.

'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 Nigeria 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.'

According to Shettima, 'Kema 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 abduction of 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 down, 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 Kema Chikwe should make mockery of all of these patriotic efforts.'

The statement said further: 'Governor Kashim Shettima had visited that school some days ago, he was escorted by security forces, that all witnessed how parents made complaints, pictures of the parents and some of the rescued girls were all over the media. The NTA also showed live pictures. 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 Kema 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 girls are revealed, they could be stigmatised even after being rescued. '

The statement however maintained that the 'Doubt raised by Mrs Kema Chikwe displays insensitivity to the plight of parents of these girls and to the feelings of all Borno people,' adding ' The Borno State Government is the most troubled by the incident.'

It said that 'The Governor of Borno State is, as should be ,expected, come under so much pressure from families and community members of Chibok and indeed the rest of the State.'

It added: '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 be recalled that sometime back when there were 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. '

The statement therefore urged the Nigeria security agencies tocall Chikwe to order 'so she desists 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.'