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50 Fleeing Boko Haram Members Arrested as DHQ Refutes Rescue of Chibok Girls

50 Fleeing Boko Haram Members Arrested as DHQ Refutes Rescue of Chibok Girls

Fifty fleeing members of the Boko Haram sect have been arrested by the military in Biu, a town located in the southern part of Borno State.

Security sources revealed that the insurgents hid in a truck used to convey livestock and were headed for Gombe State when they were apprehended.
News of their arrest coincided with the retraction by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) on the rescue of some Chibok secondary schoolgirls who were abducted by the terror sect five months ago.

On the apprehension of Boko Haram members, security sources told journalists that the arrested men are currently in the custody of the Nigerian Army and might have been detained at the Biu barracks.

The sources said some youth vigilantes in Biu became suspicious when they apprehended a truck carrying sheep and goats.

Owing to their suspicion, a thorough search of the vehicle was carried out, leading to the discovery of the 50 young men who were hidden deep inside the truck.
The sources revealed that the arrested men confessed to being fighters of the Islamic sect and were all on the run following the reported killing of their leader, Abubakar Shekau, during the confrontation of the sect with the military at Konduga last week.

They said the suspects who pleaded for mercy, also promised to cooperate with security operatives by giving them useful information on the whereabouts of other sect members on the run as well as those holding the Chibok girls.

It was also disclosed that most of the suspects were between the ages of 18 and 25 and were fluent in Kanuri and Hausa languages.

The sources said the arrested men confessed to have been among the insurgents who fought at Bama and Konduga where they were overwhelmed by the military.
Meanwhile, there was a mixture of excitement and uncertainty yesterday when news filtered into Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, that some of the female students who were abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok five months ago by Boko Haram had been released.

However, investigations showed that the information on the schoolgirls was misplaced and had gained traction when some Chibok girls who had escaped from their captors several months ago were conveyed by the Borno State Government in two buses to Maimalari barracks in Maiduguri.

This was compounded when DHQ spokesman, Major-General Chris Olukolade, erroneously informed several media houses (including THISDAY) that the girls sighted at the barracks had just regained their freedom from their abductors.

This was the second time in five months Olukolade had issued a wrong statement on the fate of the Chibok girls. Two days after their abduction on April 14, he had told the whole world that 107 girls had been freed by the military. The statement turned out to be false.

But given that Olukolade’s statement yesterday was in stark contrast with the information obtained from the Borno State Government and Department of State Security in the state, THISDAY decided to err on the side of caution by not posting the story on its website until Olukolade issued the retraction.

In a text message sent to journalists, he said: “The story circulating in respect of the release of the Chibok girls is not true please. The buses that drove into the barracks were conveying other individuals.”

The escaped girls had been taken to the barracks so that the military could provide escorts that would accompany them to their new schools in Kaduna and Abuja, as earlier promised two months ago by the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima.

Some of the soldiers in the barracks confirmed that about 35 girls were released to the military authorities to escort them to their schools outside the state.
About 30 girls were later sighted at the Government House, Maiduguri, in two 18-sitter buses.

Also closely parked by the two buses were military vehicles and a large detachment of soldiers.

However, following the retraction, there was palpable disappointment among the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, which has led the campaign for the rescue of the girls. The campaign by the group also drew global attention to their abduction.

Leader of the group and former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, was among those who wanted to believe that the girls had regained their freedom, but was restrained by mixed feelings of joy and disbelief.

An obviously anxious Ezekwesili, in successive twitter posts, said: “DAY162 of our #ChibokGirls. I have said it would be a day of unspeakable joy when the agony of our 219 daughters and their parents shall end.

“We wait and we are of good courage that our girls shall be rescued. We stay unrelenting in our expectation.

“Yes, the rumour of their rescue is strong. We wait with earnest hope and expectation for evidence. What joy.
“My heart is pounding in excited anxiety as we wait. Lord, please let not our hopes be dashed. Let this be the day.

“@GENOlukolade please get the military to end our anxiety. Can we see evidence that our #ChibokGirls are the ones being rumoured rescued?

“If only the @GENOlukolade and our HQNigerianArmy can confirm this strong rumour to be the truth by having our girls before the camera please.

“#ChibokParents cannot confirm because they also don’t know and are hearing strong rumours like everyone of us. Waiting is hard. Too hard.”

But her hopes and those of several Nigerians were dashed when DHQ retracted its statement, unleashing such venom from Nigerians on the social media.

Ezekwesili once again took to twitter to say, “Once again, our hopes are dashed. The @DefenceInfoNG says rumour not true that our #ChibokGirls were rescued. It is heart breaking. Speechless.

“All who echoed sounds of joy at the news that sadly dashed our hopes, take not back your voice. Echo their cry for freedom: #BringBackOurGirls!!!!!!
“We cannot afford the luxury of hopeless disappointment so we rise from dashed hopes and stay demanding #BringBackOurGirls now and alive!”

Expectedly, on several social media platforms, the news was greeted with outrage, pain and anger all targeted at the military for misleading the public especially the affected families.

One of such was from Yomi Ladipo who said: “General Chris Olukolade deserves to be fired for that silly statement. How dare you toy with such sensitive information?”

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