by Abang Mercy
The fate of more than 100 girls and young women abducted by Islamic extremists was thrown into uncertainty Thursday when their school principal denied a report from Nigeria’s military that almost all the students were free.
Contrary to statements issued by the Nigerian Army Wednesday claiming the more than a 100 abducted school girls had been rescued and that only 8 of them were yet to be freed.
“Up till now we are still waiting and praying for the safe return of the students … the security people, especially the vigilantes and the well-meaning volunteers of Gwoza are still out searching for them. The military people too are in the bush searching,” the principal, Asabe Kwambura, told The Associated Press by telephone.
She said only 14 of the 129 girls kidnapped by gunmen before dawn Tuesday have returned to Chibok town — four who jumped from the back of a truck and 10 who escaped into the bush when their abductors asked them to cook a meal.
Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the Defense Ministry spokesman, said in a statement late Wednesday night that all but eight of the students have been accounted for. “The others have been freed this evening,” he said.
Kwambura was adamant: “So let it be clear that all the information passed on to the media by the military concerning 107 girls is not true.”
Borno state Gov. Kashim Shettima offered a reward of some $300,000 for information leading to the release of the young women, aged between 16 and 18.
The government had reported that security forces were in hot pursuit of the militants.
Olukolade could not immediately be reached for further comment about the Principal’s claims. But the defence information claimed, “The Principal of the school has confirmed that only 8 of the students are still missing. One of the terrorists who carried out the attack on the school has also been captured.”