Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State yesterday said he received with rude shock, comments attributed to a former Minister of Aviation and current Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Women Leader, Mrs. Kema Chikwe, that she is doubtful if female students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State were actually abducted by Boko Haram gunmen and went ahead to challenge the authorities to publish names and pictures of the school girls to erase any doubts.
Shettima said it was highly unfortunate that Mrs Chikwe has decided to play politics with the issue, adding that the state government would publish the names and pictures of the abducted girls, if permitted by the Defence Headquarters, which is in charge of information dissemination on security issues in the North-East.
A statement by the governor’s Special Adviser on Media, Isa Gusau, reads: “We have read with very rude shock, media reports attributed to National Women Leader of the PDP, raising doubts on whether indeed, schoolgirls were abducted at Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok on April 14, 2014 or not. This is clear case of bringing politics into a serious national issue that bothers on the lives of over 200 schoolgirls which is highly unfortunate.
“We find that report a big affront that undermines the National Security Council which held a meeting that dwelled extensively on the matter with a directive to the armed forces to rescue the girls.
“By her remark, Chikwe has undermined the integrity of all of Nigeria’s security forces because her questions appear to mean that the security agencies in the country do not know what they are doing for holding a National Security Council meeting and deliberating on something that was doubtful and yet giving directives to address it.
“This incident happened 17 days ago, every Nigerian expects that by now, the security agencies must have been carrying out investigations that might have included debriefing some of the girls that escaped from captivity, speaking with parents and other students of the schools. Chikwe’s remark seems to attack the integrity of the security agencies, giving the impression that nothing was done”.
The statement noted that unlike the attempt by the PDP National Women Leader to undermine the integrity of the security agencies and President Goodluck Jonathan, who couldn’t have deemed it necessary to host an expanded National Security Council that was attended by him, all Security Chiefs, Governors of the 36 States and key leaders of this country during which the schoolgirls was extensively discussed if the president was not properly briefed by the security agencies under the Federal Government, what that indicated was the attack and abduction took place.
The statement continued: “Even though most of the school buildings were razed during that attack and property vandalised, records of schoolgirls that registered for WAEC and NECO exams cannot be a difficult one to get since the examination bodies are there with records.
“In addition to that, parents lodged complaints that should naturally have the names of their children or wards. It is expectedly thought that security agencies would by now, have necessary information about these girls which might include their records”.
Gov. Shettima, who noted that the Borno State Government was in possession of a “comprehensive data” of the missing girls as well as those that returned, said government was willing to publish the details tomorrow (Friday) if the Defence Headquarters gives the go-ahead.
He, however, added that “Our fear is not to reveal names that would reveal religion and family backgrounds which could at the end, compromise the safety of these girls; provide basis for families to be reached with demands for ransom or be accused of undermining rescue efforts or sensationalism”.
He also stated that government was stalling on the release of the abducted school girls’ details so as to prevent a situation where they could be stigmatized even after they have been rescued.
The statement stressed that while Gov. Shettima derives no pleasure in making bogus claims on the number of missing school girls, it faulted Mrs. Chikwe for displaying insensitivity to the plight of parents of these girls and to the feelings of all Borno people.
“It is important that the Nigeria security agencies call Mrs Chikwe to order so she desist from mocking the National Security Council and misleading Nigerians and rest of the world that have been attracted by this unfortunate incident which has left the Government and people of Borno State highly distressed”, the statement concluded.