Chibok committee: Our findings may threaten national security
The presidential fact-finding committee on the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State has advised that its report be kept secret because of some explosive discoveries made by it.
The committee led by Brigadier-General Ibrahim Sabo (rtd) submitted its report to President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday.
According to the committee, its findings be kept secret as they may threaten national security as well as jeorpadise efforts to rescue the rescue efforts.
The committee also confirmed that the actual number of the school girls abducted in Chibok, Borno State was 276, out of which 119 were still missing.
It explained that out of the 276 girls abducted on April 14, about 57 later escaped and have since been reunited with their families.
President Goodluck Jonathan on May 6, 2014 with terms of reference including 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 the parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted and to interface with the security services and the Borno state government to ascertain how many of the missing girls had returned.
Sabo (rtd) and his team presented the report to President Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“In view of the detailed security findings and recommendations contained in the report, we advise that in order not to jeopardise on-going rescue efforts and also the possibility of compromising national security matters, we recommend that the report be treated with utmost confidentiality. This, however, does not preclude government from releasing information thatsaid.
“Mr President, the committee wishes to lay to rest any residual doubt about whether or not any student was abducted at Chibok. There was mass abduction on the night of April 14, 2014. During the siege on the school, 119 students escaped from the school premises, before the insurgents took away their classmates. A total number of 276 students were, thus, abducted. As of today, 57 of the abducted students have been reunited with their families after escaping along the zig-zag transport route taken by the insurgents, or by bolting to safety when the insurgents laid by for a rest. Sadly, 219 students remain unaccounted for.
“Much as Nigerians and the rest of the world have been galvanised to drum up support for freedom for the Chibok schoolgirls, little will be achieved through finger-pointing. Getting the girls out, and safely, too, is by far more important than the publicity generated by the blame game that has tended to becloud the issue.”
The committee also told the president that a Senator from Borno who accepted the appointment as a member of the committee curiously avoided attending its meetings on the ground that he had another appointment which would keep him away for a month but noted that the committee members understood the motive behind the Senator's decision to keep off and that his absence did not affect the outcome of the committee's findings.
“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,” he added.
Sabo said the committee received the full co-operation of all the stakeholders, with the three representatives nominated by Borno state participating actively in the proceedings of the committee, adding that the state government also facilitated access to a number of stakeholders.
On the content of the report, Sabo said: “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 painstaking measures taken by the committee in arriving at the number of students still to be accounted for.”
He further told the president that the parents and relatives of the abducted schoolgirls were burning with hope and wishes, as they pray fervently that their daughters and wards be rescued alive and reunited with their families.
“But there is no mistaking the trauma and deep-seated fear of some of the schoolgirls who escaped from the Boko Haram abductors. The parents and guardians of the schoolgirls are no less gripped by nagging worries over the incident. On May 29th, the committee visited Chibok, where we interacted with community members and leaders, as well as parents and four of the girls who regained their freedom from the abductors.
In his response, Jonathan warned school owners particularly in the North East who intend to run boarding schools to be ready to put in place basic security measures that would ensure safety of the students, saying while it may not be expected that such school owners should secure the services of a battalion of soldiers, the presence of five policemen in the Chibok school could have saved the situation on the night of the mass abduction.
Expressing sadness that as he was talking, the girls were still in the hands of criminal elements, the president who likened the situation to a country at war, said he would not rest on his oars until terror was crushed in the country because Nigeria could no longer live “with the monster called Boko Haram.”