Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has warned that some of the girls abducted by Boko Haram from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, may never return.
Obasanjo, who answered questions on the Hausa service of the BBC, said: “I believe that some of them will never return. We will still be hearing about them many years from now.”
In what may be deemed a brutally frank comment certain to sink the hearts of their parents, Obasanjo added: “Some of them will give birth, but if the Boko Haram members cannot take care of them in the forest, they may be released.”
Obasanjo regretted that since he made the move to reach out to the Boko Haram leadership on the possible release of the girls, the federal government was yet to give him the green light, expressing the fears that up to half of the girls might never return again.
He noted that the girls might have been divided into groups and not likely to be at the same location.
It has been almost two months since the girls were kidnapped by the terrorists, resulting in a global coalition to secure their release.
The federal government has also come under scathing criticism for not doing enough to find and rescue the students from their captors.
But as the government struggles to step up its military campaign to defeat Boko Haram, the Sri Lankan military has offered to assist their Nigerian counterparts in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaign in the North-eastern part of the country.
The Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, in a statement yesterday, confirmed that the offer was made when a high-powered military delegation from Sri Lanka on Tuesday held a brainstorming session on the counter-terrorism campaign with the military high command at the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).
Olukolade said the delegation, which was led by Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Jagath Jayasuriya, also had the country’s Chief of Army, Chief of Naval Staff as well as Chief of National Intelligence and other high ranking officers, all of whom made presentations relating to their country’s experience in handling insurgencies by terrorists in the Asian country.
He said during the opening session of presentations, the Sri Lankan CDS said the delegation considered it a good opportunity to share their experience, adding that the situation in Nigeria has a lot of similarities with what obtained in Sri Lanka when it had to address the spectre of terrorism.
He added that the extensive security briefing delivered by the Sri Lankan security chiefs dealt with the concepts and strategies adopted by their military in the fight against terrorism.
According to him, the Sri Lankan officers gave the details of how their country practised what they referred to as “total security”, which involved the translation of all the nation’s assets into military power to counter the scourge of terrorism.
“They suggested that the military needed to enjoy the support of the entire country in its efforts to counter terrorism. The series of presentation was followed by an extensive interactive session between officers of both countries,” Olukolade added.
Also speaking at the session, the Nigerian CDS, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, commended the visiting Sri Lankans for identifying with the Nigerian Armed Forces in its efforts at ending insecurity in the country.
Badeh assured the delegation that the Nigerian military was seriously considering the counter-insurgency experience of the Sri Lankan military with a view to identifying those areas that could be operationally beneficial to Nigeria in its battle to defeat terrorism.
Similarly, the United Kingdom has decided to increase its military and educational aid to help Nigeria tackle Boko Haram, Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced.
He said Nigeria's army would receive extra training, especially in counter-insurgency tactics, while a million more children would be given schooling, reported the BBC yesterday.
This is the latest promise of Western help since Boko Haram abducted some schoolgirls in April.
Meanwhile, gunmen totalling 40 in number and armed with sophisticated weapons have attacked the Sumaila police division in Sumaila Local Government Area in Kano State. Sumaila is about 78 kilometres from Kano metropolis, the state capital.
A resident of the area, Mohammed Shehu, said the gunmen came in three vehicles and motorcycles on Wednesday at about 8 pm and fired sporadically into the air, causing confusion among the residents and causing many to flee into nearby villages.
Mohammed said: “We were at home after observing the night prayer and people were resting in their houses because of the heat. But unfortunately for us, we heard a series of gunshots and we were told that it was the gunmen that had attacked a police station. We ran into nearby villages for our safety.”
However, THISDAY learnt that the policemen on duty were able to repel the gunmen in an exchange of fire which forced them to flee with injuries.
It was gathered that the attack came immediately after trading was over at the Sumaila market, which is close to the community’s police station where the onslaught took place.
Police spokesman of Kano State Police Command, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Magaji Majiya, who confirmed the incident in a press statement, said no life was lost, adding that the police and members of the community were well protected as none of them sustained any injury.
Majiya said the command was on top of the situation with a view to arresting the fleeing suspects.
“Normalcy has already been restored and people have gone back to their normal activities as investigation commences,” he added.
In another development, the police in Kano have banned all persons trespassing on boarding secondary school premises in the state to play football or engage in other activities.
The police said the measure was aimed at safeguarding children undergoing studies in various boarding schools in the state.
Majia said all the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the state had been directed to arrest and prosecute anybody who trespassed on boarding school premises.