The chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, yesterday disclosed that the military has located the whereabouts of over 200 female students abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14.
Since their abduction, their whereabouts have remained a mystery, which has led to misinformation: some claimed they had been taken to countries like the Central Africa Republic, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
But CDS Badeh, while speaking with members of an NGO, Citizens Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), who were demonstrating their support, said the military had located their whereabouts but, for the safety of the girls, it is working on how to avoid risking their lives.
Said he: “The good news for the parents of the girls is that we know where they are. But we cannot tell you; we cannot come and tell you the military secret here. Just leave us alone; we are working to get the girls back.
“We want our girls back, our military can do it. But where they are held – can we go with force? Nobody should say Nigerian military does not know what it’s doing. We can’t kill our girls in the name of getting them back. So we are working. The president has empowered us to do the work. Anybody castigating the Nigerian military – there is something wrong with him.”
He regretted a situation where the menace is pitting the military against some young men in the country. He however expressed hope that the siege would be over sooner than expected.
“What is happening now is that we are fighting our fellow brothers, and we are not happy at all because we are killing our own kind and we are killing mostly youths. We cannot afford to eliminate our youths. Who are we going to hand over Nigeria to? We can’t kill them.”
The CDS asked Nigerians to stop criticising the military but instead join hands with them to end the menace of the insecurity challenges occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“People have finally realised that you don’t have another military except this one you have. And it is either you support your military or you are looking for anarchy. This war is not fought by the military alone; this war is fought by Nigerians. Nigeria is at war; everybody must put hands on deck. So, if you can’t do anything else, but you have mouth to support the military don’t disparage the military because you don’t have another one.”
Speaking on the recovering of arms and ammunition by the military in various parts of the country, he said, “We are recovering – and you know some of the arms we are recovering, they are very alien to the Nigerian armed forces, which means there are people from outside fuelling this thing.
When Mr President said we have Al-Qaeda in West Africa, I believed him 100 per cent, because I know people from outside Nigeria are in this war. They are fighting us, they want to destabilise us. This is our country and some people in this country are standing with the forces of darkness. No, we must salvage our country; we must bring sanity back into our nation.”
He explained that the fight against insurgency was quite different from full-scale war: “If we were fighting an external war, they would have been begging us to withdraw. We have proved it: we were in Liberia and Sierra Leone and we returned democracy there.”
The CDS stressed further that the military in Nigeria is the strong arm of democracy, and that it holds the constitution very dearly, adding that the constitution is represented by the president, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. “So, we are using our lives to defend democracy – democracy must thrive in Nigeria, whether anybody likes it or not.”