How My Pupils Escaped From Boko Haram – School principal

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The principal of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Asabe Kwabura, tells ARUKAINO UMUKORO and KAYODE IDOWU how the schoolgirls were kidnapped How did you find out that your pupils were missing? When it happened, I was not in the school premises. I went to Maiduguri for a medical check up. I was called by my daughter around 11.30pm in the night. She told me that some insurgents were in the school and were trying to escape. That was how I heard. My daughter resides in my house, which is located inside the school. We were together in the house and I left her in the house before I went for the check up. Did your daughter escape? Yes, she was able to escape How did she describe the attack to you? She said the kidnappers went directly to the hostel and convinced the girls that they came to free them from insurgents. The students thought they were soldiers who had come to protect them. They were taken into the vehicles and it was too late when they discovered that they were not security men. Was there any case of injury? Those that jumped out of the lorry the insurgents took them away with are those that got some dislocation and bruises. How many girls are back? We have 43 girls now. But we still have about 200 missing. What was your first response when you heard about the incident? When they called me about the incident, I asked about the welfare of the pupils. My daughter told me that she did not hear anything about what happened to the pupils because everybody was running away. I called a member of staff and he told me the abductors were already in the bush. We continued calling each other and other people in town. What kind of security did you have in the school before the incident? We didn’t have any kind of security within the school. Were you aware of the invasion of other schools in the state before the incident in your school? Yes, they have attacked many schools. Did you take any measure to beef up security in your school to prevent such occurrence? Before this incident, we had (extra) security in the school, but the security was withdrawn after a year. This happened last year. Was there any reason given for withdrawing the security in the school? I don’t know. How have you been able to manage the situation in the school? There is nothing in the school again. Everything was burnt down by the insurgents. What about the parents, how are you coping with their predicament? We plead with them and tell them to be patient, and that the security men are out there looking for the missing girls. The security men are in the bush, trying to find the pupils. Some parents said they were ready to go into the forest to look for their children by themselves. Don’t you think this is dangerous for them? At the beginning, they went out by themselves, but when they reached a certain village, they were asked not to go inside the bush because the place is dangerous. So, they came back. Security men have also asked them not to go because they (security men) would go after Boko Haram. What were the experiences of some of the girls who returned? As for some of the girls who returned, according to their narration, they did not experience any hardship. They only experienced difficulty with escaping in the bush, since they did not know the area. They said the insurgents kept them under a tree and they were able to escape. How long did it take them to escape from their abductors? They were taken away on Monday night and on Tuesday morning; they were taken to their abductors’ camp. Some of them escaped that same Tuesday. Did the girls mention the name of the camp or area they were taken to? No, they didn’t. They were new to the area because it is far away from the school. What is the name of the village the girls escaped to? They escaped through a village called Bale. From Bale, they went to another village, they didn’t know the name of that village. They said they only met Fulani people that took them inside a vehicle and took them to a place called Klakasa. From Klakasa, they said they were taken to Chibok. How far is Klakasa from Chibok? I don’t know the distance. I only hear of the place, but I have not been there before. How many schoolchildren in total do you have in the school? The total number of the whole school is 1,610 students -boys and girls. Why were the girls asked to write the physics exam despite the security situation in the state? The SSS three students were writing their SSCE examination. Though the school closed down, they were called to come and write the exam. There were 530 students writing the exams. The total number of the students who were rescued is 43, while the total number of students still missing is above 200. That is what I can tell you. I cannot tell you more than that. Copyright PUNCH.