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Chibok: We Opened School On People's Request,Says Borno Govt

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 04, (THEWILL) â€' The Borno State Government said at the weekend that the Government Secondary School, Chibok was left opened when other schools were shut on April 14 based on thr request of the people of the town who appealed to Governor Kashim Shettima not to move their students to another town.

The explanation came in view of the indictment of the state government by the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) that attempt to move the students out of the Chibok centre was frustrated by the governor.

An official of the state who gave this explanation said the people of Chibok had argued that their town was safe and in fact safer than Maiduguri or Biu the two towns the governor was contemplating moving the students to as they gave the governor the impression that they would be unhappy if anything happens to their daughters if they were moved..

He added that the school was co-educational,and not an all-female school,saying the 'stakeholders of Chibok made a pressiing request that a make shift arrangement be made to accommodate their male children since the school was big enough to accommodate more students.'

According to him, ' The stakeholders request was because their sons who were schooling in other parts of the State that turned out to be unsafe, were sitting at home without returning for fear of attacks.

'And because Chibok was very safe, the parents demanded that rather than sitting at home, their sons be allowed to also be in that school.

'The Governor reluctantly accepted that a temporary structure be put in place while he preferred that where necessary a new school be built for the boys while the girls be allowed in their school given the fact that the school was established mainly as a female school with all its policies and programs designed as such.'

He said the school was opened because 'Some two months ago, there was fear that schools were going to be attacked, indeed, one was attacked in Konduga and also following what happened in Yobe, the Governor directed that all schools be closed but a decision was reached that an arrangement be made for all final year secondary school students to write their WAEC and NECO exams.'

According to him,'The State's ministry of education identified schools that were considered safe and students from other schools were secretly collapsed in safe schools so they could take their exams.

'The decision had to be made since the students had spent six years and loosing opportunities for WAEC and NECO exams could mean they would wait for another year before graduating.

'In some of the safe schools, final year students of up to four, five schools were moved to one centre (one school).

'The Government made a decision not to make this public so that insurgents do not go after the schools and attack them, therefore the decision was a guarded secret that not even some Government officials knew about it.

'The GGSS Chibok was considered one of the safest schools, it was opened like some others in Uba, Askira, Maiduguri, Biu, Gwoza and some others.

'In that school, attacked in Chibok, students from schools in Izge, Warabe,Lassa and Ashiga-Shiya were all collapsed in one place and they were quietly writing their exams until that unfortunate attack of Tuesday, 14th of April, 2014. One other thing that should be said is that, initially, the Governor had insisted that all the final year students be moved to schools in Maiduguri and Biu but stakeholders from some of the areas, particularly in Chibok and Uba protested.

'The Governor had several meetings with the community members of Chibok who include traditional rulers, parents, the chairman of the council, the member of the state assembly representing Chibok and opinion leaders, they insisted that their children be allowed to remain in Chibok which was actually safe.'

He maintained that 'At a point, they asked the Governor what would happen if their children were attacked in Maiduguri or Biu, it was at that point he conceded to their request. The truth is that the collapse of students from other schools in Chibok as was done in other parts of the State was a major reason there is mix up in the number of missing girls.'

He explained that 'The Government found itself at a difficult situation. This is probably why the Governor was not saying much about the school.'

He however lamented that 'One interesting thing is that the Boko Haram only targeted the girls hostel which was a permanent structure there and that is why only girls were abducted.'

According to him, 'The boys stay in a makeshift hostel because the Government plans to relocate them, even on the school sign post, if you look at what is written is clearly, Government Girls Secondary School. Males were only allowed due to the emergency situation not that the school is actually a mixed one.

'The information about boys being in the school is not hidden because as journalists in Borno can testify, the State's Commissioner for Education, Musa Inuwa Kubo, said this publicly when Governor Kashim Shettima visited the school. What the Commissioner said was also reported by Newspapers. No body hid information about the school having boys.

'Some part of the media mixed it up. The issue is that it was the female hostel which was a permanent structure that was attacked and razed down. The insurgents seem to have targeted the girls.Then after that attack, students of that school in Chibok were again collapsed in another school in Uba which already had other students from Askira.

'The Federal Government is bringing unnecessary politics into this and honestly the Government will be vindicated by the end of the day when the Presidential fact finding committee completes its work.

'For instance, the first terms of reference the President gave the fact finding committee is to establish why the school was left opened while others in the State were closed, however, it is not true that other schools were closed, like I said, students were collaped in some schools left opened but it wasn't made public for security reasons, in short, that fact that WAEC officials confirmed to the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan that some 189 students or so were moved from the attacked school in Chibok to another school in Uba further shows that it was not just the school in Chibok that was opened.

'Many if not all the schools in Maiduguri, Hawul, Biu, Uba and other places considered safe were all opened. Then on the issue of the WAEC telling the first lady that 530 persons registered for exams, amongst them 180 males and 189 now at Uba cannot indict the Government. First, there was never a time the Borno State Government announced that 234 girls were abducted. The Governor personally announced 129 and all the media reported it, it was after he visited the school that it was discovered that parents registered over 200 missing girls.

'It was the Governor that directed for announcement to be made for any parent whose child ran home during the school attack to return the child to school for documentation and this is how over 30 girls were brought back, a Governor out for any wrong wouldn't have given that order. Beside that the argument that the Borno Government could have staged the abduction to show that the emergency has failed so as to bargain for removal of emergency doesn't make any sound reasoning because somebody can have superior argument if he says for instance that the Federal Government arranged the abduction to create an atmosphere of increased fear in order to have more basis for extension of emergency of the removal of democratic structures but the State Government purely attributes the attack on the Boko Haram and doesn't suspect any foul play.

'The truth is that the Federal Government will be humiliated at the end of the fact finding mission of the Presidential Committee. The Borno State Government shoulders 90 percent of funding the military activities including paying rewards for intelligence which the military collects. There is simply no way the Federal Government will succeed in shifting blame to the State Government which seem to be the plan here.

'The FG is under immense pressure and they are looking for a scapegoat. The Police Commissioner and the State Director of DSS in Borno State did a joint press conference after their investigation and they pointed to the fact as was reported on Friday that students were collapsed in some schools for the purpose of exams. They even said over 276 students were actually missing based on their own investigation.'

He accused the First Lady of trying to incite the people against the State Government, saying 'that is rather too childish and unnecessary since a fact finding committee has been set up unless if she is saying that the committee's report is ready before the committee's inauguration on Tuesday.'

The Borno official said : 'They should be talking to the security chiefs in Borno to get true picture of things but not to stay in Abuja and be making unguarded statements that won't help any body. '

According to him, 'The efforts should be on rescuing these girls. The military has been saying they were trailing but how can somebody reconcile that with doubts being mischievously peddled about the incident?'