Contrary to earlier reports, the United States of America declared on Friday, 27 June, 2014, that it does not know the where-about of the 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State, northeastern Nigeria.
It could be recalled that no fewer 276 students of Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State were abducted by members of Boko Haram on 14 April, 2014. Though some of the kidnapped schoolgirls reportedly managed to escape the insurgents after their abduction, 219 of them are still being held by the Islamists terror group.
Few days after the girls’ abduction, leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, said, in a video posted on the internet, that he would not release the schoolgirls except for an exchange of some of ‘his brethren’ captured by the Nigerian soldiers.
* Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby
The Nigerian federal government led by President Goodluck Jonathan, supported by the international communities, had since stated they are not going to negotiate with the terrorists on the matter, promising to ensure that all the missing girls are brought back home.
Speaking on attempt to rescue the schoolgirls from their abductors, Reuters reports that Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told newsmen on Friday that it had decreased its surveillance flights in the search for the missing 219 schoolgirls.
According to the report, the spokesman also added that their overall effort was unchanged due to more flights by other countries.
* Some of the abducted schoolgirls in Borno
Kirby stated that it had no idea of the location of the girls, noting however that there is no letup in the efforts to locate and rescue them.
“We don’t have any better idea today than we did before about where these girls are, but there’s been no letup of the effort itself,” the spokesman told reporters.
Kirby said the same level of effort was being sustained now through international involvement.
Kirby denied a suggestion that US flights over Nigeria had been reduced to accommodate increased US surveillance over Iraq, where Washington is flying unmanned and manned aircraft to gather intelligence about Sunni insurgents.
* Leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau
He said some of the resources that were being used in Nigeria had been diverted from other missions in Africa and could now be used elsewhere on the continent.
US military personnel are in Abuja helping to coordinate the effort, and some 80 others were sent to Chad in May to support the surveillance operation.
Chad is northeast of Nigeria and borders the area in which Boko Haram is known to operate.
Also speaking on the matter, a US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American flights had been reduced only after a body of intelligence had been gathered and that the cuts had been offset by the British and the French support.
The defence official said surveillance alone would not lead to a resolution. “It will take the Nigerian piece of the equation with their own sources and human intelligence coupled with the other forms to really understand the picture,” he noted.
In an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Friday, President Goodluck Jonathan said his government and security services had “spared no resources, have not stopped and will not stop until the girls are returned home.”