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Military Surrounds Camps Where Boko Haram Held Abducted Girls, Intensifies Negotiation

Nigeria’s military said it has tracked down and surrounded
the location, where over 200 schoolgirls who were abducted
two weeks ago from Government Secondary School,
Chibok, are reportedly being held captive by Islamist sect
Boko Haram.

The military is said to be applying caution in its approach
having identified the various camps where the girls are held,
to ensure their safety it explores several options, including
intense negotiations by locals and the Borno State
Government to secure their release.

“The operation is being strategically carried in a very covert
manner because the terrorists will not hesitate to use any of
the girls as human shields or even kill them in the event of
an attack.

“Another thing you must consider is that apart from being a
large expanse of land area, the Sambisa forest also has
many clusters of villages and settlements that can suffer
from the collateral damage, should an all-out bombardment
be carried out.

“Assuming the military attacks them and some of the girls
get killed in the process, can you imagine the outrage that
will come from the members of the public? So they
(military) are being careful.
“All this while, the military has known and has tracked the
locations where they are and has even concluded plans to
invade the place, but later shelved it to avoid collateral
damage,” a source told Thisday.

The military was said to have changed tactics, as it was
revealed that the instead of a full onslaught on the terror
hideouts, the troops are relying more on intelligence
gathering and negotiations by some local indigenes and the
state government with the terrorists to secure the release of
the girls.

It has also emerged that in the course of searching for the
girls, the military has arrested some of the arrowheads
behind their abduction and are currently undergoing

The source further explained that the security forces do not
want to get involved in negotiations since they consider the
kidnapping a “highly coordinated local issue” with the full
backing of the state government.

“The state government and the Commissioner (of Education)
are seriously negotiating (for the girls’ freedom) because
they know these boys. And what you see playing out is the
politics of the state of emergency,” he said.

Also, sources within defence circles further revealed that
after being embarrassed by the conflicting accounts on the
number of girls that were abducted or released, the military
is taking a more cautious approach in dealing with the

Most of the military top brass, the sources also revealed, are
still aggrieved with the way they were misled into giving a
false statement about the missing students, which forced the
Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in Abuja to retract its

One top security officer expressed doubts that 234
schoolgirls were kidnapped, stating that the number of the
abducted girls was grossly exaggerated and may not be
more than 70 in total.
According to him, since the total number of the students in
the school from junior to senior secondary level is about
1,200, this would explain the high number of parents
claiming that their children are missing.

“This is aside from the calculated effort aimed at getting
some kind of financial compensation from the state
government, which was alleged to have doled out the sum
of N1 million to each family of the missing girls.
“Now if you divide that figure by six, you would have a
maximum of 200 students in a class. And when you
consider the fact that the SS3 (Senior Secondary 3) students
are normally fewer in number than other classes, it stands
to reason that less than 200 schoolgirls were abducted,” the
source explained.

Expressing frustration with the entire incident, the security
official added: “Another thing you should note is that schools
were closed within this period and this is both a day and
boarding school, and not all the students were living in the
“So who gave them the directive to come to school and
what were they doing in school at that time? Who are the
students that make up these figures, because most of them
were going to school from home since they are all
members of Chibok community.

“The fact is that the figure is less than 100, or even less than
70 from our estimates, which was admitted by the school
security men there and even the principal of the school
before she started changing figures and statement. Today,
she will say the figure is 129, then later she said 234 and
again changed the figure.”
He alleged that the whole situation playing out with the
abduction saga was beginning to appear like a hatchet job
meant to ridicule the military in order to gain the upper hand
in their quest to lift the state of emergency imposed on
Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.

“Owing to what has happened, the military has decided to
operate in the background since our men cannot trust the
people (community members) who are also being
brainwashed to see us as enemies.
“The way this whole situation has played out has made the
military wary of those it is working with, that is, the locals
and their hunters, as you can see how the principal has been
made the star of this whole misfortune.
“She has been granting interviews to the media in a euphoric
manner, ridiculing the military and saying the hunters are
the ones doing the job,” the source added.

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