Nigeria’s military is promising to spare no effort, including deploying maximum force, in recovering the schoolboys abducted by the Boko Haram terrorist group.
News Central reports that the insurgents had stormed Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State, northwest Nigeria, last Friday and kidnapped no fewer than 300 students.
Boko Haram later claimed responsibility for the abduction on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the Nigerian military in a statement, allayed fears over the safety of President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrived in Daura, his hometown in Katsina, on a week-long private visit, hours before the gunmen attacked the school.
The families of the kidnapped schoolboys are concerned that the abducted children may be brainwashed or held for years, as security forces continue the hunt for their armed captors.
The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations (DDMO), Maj. Gen. John Enenche, said at a media briefing in Abuja, that the armed forces were determined to rescue the schoolchildren by all means “whichever way, head or tail.”
Enenche said, “we have not received any information that any of them is dead. From the information that we have, monitoring the situation and then the troops are on the ground, as it were, they started patrolling the whole of that area, which I’m not giving you the specifics, to ensure the information we gathered from Government House security operatives, other than military sources of information, are intact”.
According to him, the armed forces are working round-the-clock to ensure that the schoolboys are rescued alive.
“The truth is that there is no sleeping for anybody. No sleeping for all of us. We are all there with other security agencies working day and night to ensure that these children come out of this experience alive, as soon as possible.”
On whether the military will support the advocacy championed by Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, for Nigeria to engage military contractors to rout Boko Haram, he said that was exclusively for the Federal Government to decide.
He said: “Efforts are in the highest speed to ensure that the children come out unhurt and that we don’t record any loss of life, particularly amongst them. All the security agencies in that location are all working assiduously and keeping tabs on the situation and tracking the criminals to ensure that the children are brought out alive.”
On the possibility that the Katsina abduction may end up like the Chibok girls kidnap, he said Boko Haram was engaging in propaganda to engineer its discreet followers to boost their ego and relevance, in spite of the fact that they have lost territories.
Enenche, who dismissed claims by Boko Haram of being responsible for the attacks said: “Based on the characteristics of terrorists all over the world, from the time when we had Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and the likes, they have always liked to boost their ego and claim responsibility for what they did not do. Now, somebody is saying he is Shekau, and Shekau is a brand and somebody is using his voice. The total aim of terrorists is to instill fear in people, even beyond their scope of influence. So on that ground, it’s just in their character to begin to show relevance of what they cannot even do.”
Talking about the exchange of gunfire in the Kankara area, he said “other operations were on and are still on. We have as it is now and as it were, van patrols even up till yesterday.
“So, if you are hearing gunfire, it is a normal kinetic action going on in other areas and not directed at the location where the children are because what we have seen is that maximum caution is being exercised and professionally handled to ensure that the children come out alive. Gunfire hearing in any operational area is not news,” Enenche added.
He also reached out to the parents of the kidnapped schoolboys, saying: “I’m a father of four children and I have lost relations and some of my soldiers; so the experience is never the same. They are always fresh.
“So I know what it means and I can say that we feel it. We are concerned and putting everything on the ground, strategies and plans in place with other security agencies working with us to ensure that they come out alive.”
He urged them to exercise patience and to continue to pray until the pupils are rescued.
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