The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Thursday admitted that troops were still searching for majority of the girls abducted by suspected Boko Haram gunmen at the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
As at the time of going to press, the whereabouts of about 99 out of the 129 missing school girls remains unknown.
There was controversy on Wednesday when the Borno State Government contradicted the DHQ, which said troops had rescued 80 of the school girls, saying only 30 of them have been found.
The DHQ said the report forwarded to the public on the purported rescue of 80 girls was done in good faith and not intended to deceive the public or play politics.
Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, made the clarifications in a statement following the controversy over the fate of the abducted girls.
The statement said: “The controversy that has been generated around the efforts at securing the lives of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok is unfortunate.
“The ongoing frantic efforts of security forces along with vigilante groups, including, hunters working to locate and free the abducted students have continued to be keenly monitored at the Operation Centre of the Defence and Army Headquarters as regular progress reports are being received from troops on the ground.
“In this regard, a report was filed in from the field indicating that a major breakthrough had been recorded in the search. There was no reason to doubt this official channel, hence the information was released to the public immediately.
“Surprisingly however, the school principal, one of the sources quoted in the report, has denied all that was attributed to her – for whatever reasons.
“This is an unfortunate development, indeed, yet the Defence Headquarters would not want to join issues with anyone.
“It has to be reaffirmed however, that the report forwarded to the public on this issue was in good faith and not intended to deceive the public as is being interpreted following the denials by the school principal and government of Borno State.
“Like all other citizens, the military is deeply concerned to ensure that the students are safe and freed alive. There is indeed no reason to play politics with the precious lives of the students. The number of those still missing is not the issue now as the life of every Nigerian is very precious.
“In the light of the denial by the principal of the school, the Defence Headquarters wishes to defer to the school principal and governor’s statement on the number of students still missing and retract that aspect of earlier statement while the search continues”.