MAIDUGURI: A Nigerian school principal yesterday denied military reports that most of the girls kidnapped by Islamist gunmen were now safe, as parents continued a desperate search for more than 100 children still held captive.
A defence ministry spokesman, Chris Olukolade, claimed on Wednesday that all but eight of the 129 girls kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok area of Borno state earlier in the week were now safe, citing the school’s principal.
But the same principal refuted the claim yesterday. “The report from the military is not true,” Asabe Kwambura said in Lagos. She said the information provided by Borno’s governor Kashim Shettima on Wednesday that only 14 girls had escaped their captors was “correct”.
Later, Borno’s education commissioner also confirmed that only a handful escaped, although he said the number of those who have fled to safety now stood at 20. “We have recovered about 20 girls now and they are with us. After they escaped, the girls went to village heads who live close to where they found themselves and the local leaders brought them to us,” said Mallam Inuwa Kubo.
The mass kidnap on Monday sparked global outrage and came just hours after the deadliest attack to hit capital Abuja, where a bomb blast also blamed on Boko Haram killed at least 75 people. Boko Haram’s extremist uprising, aimed at creating a strict Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has killed thousands since 2009.
Parents of the missing girls swarmed the home of Chibok’s tribal chief, demanding answers after the military claimed the girls were free, residents said.