The Defence Headquarters, on Wednesday, said that the military had taken all the necessary briefs from other security agencies and the Katsina State government on the present condition of the abducted students, saying based on the latest information, the hostages were still with the bandits unharmed.
Addressing newsmen at the Army headquarters in Abuja, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operation, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, also said the military was not part of the team negotiating with bandits and would not be.
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According to him, nobody is dead among the children and the armed forces were reviewing strategies to ensure their safe returns to their parents, noting that the military would continue its ongoing kinetic operations.
“Nobody is dead; we have not received anything that anybody is dead from the information that we have on the situation and then, the troops are on guard as it were.
“They have started patrolling the whole of that area which I will not give you the specifics to ensure that they are intact and that we rescue them alive, whichever way,” Enenche said.
The DHQ spokesman stressed that negotiation with terrorists, bandits or criminal gangs was not part of the rule of engagement of the military, assuring that the security forces would rescue the schoolboys from their abductors soon.
He stated: “I don’t know from history where the military or the armed forces go into negotiations when it comes to ransom and I don’t have any record.
“Nothing is connecting the armed forces with negotiation.
“If the governor believes in that as a father, he is seeing it in a larger perceptive.
“We are going on with our operations, and we don’t step down our kinetic operations for any reason at all.
“There is nowhere in the world where you stop your kinetic operation; it is a total package because purported negotiations are going on. It is not done.”
Boko Haram question
Daily Trust reports that there have been conflicting narratives about the abduction of the schoolboys.
On Saturday, military authorities said they were engaging the bandits, while the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, said on Sunday that the students would be rescued within hours.
But in an audio message, a man who claimed to be Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the factional group, claimed that they were responsible for the abduction of over 500 students at Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, on Friday.
The man said a total of 523 students were taken away.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari had said that 333 were still missing.
However, the school register seen by our reporter had shown that 668 students were missing but some of the students have resurfaced in the last two days.
Based on their findings, security experts and those with knowledge of Boko Haram operations confirmed that the abduction was carried out by the Boko Haram loyal to Abubakar Shekau.
They, however, expressed doubts as to whether the man in the audio was Shekau, considering the manner he spoke, the way he called himself (Abubakar Shekau) instead Abu Muhammad Asshakawi, the way he normally addresses himself in most of his messages, both audio and video.
One of the experts also wondered why the man slipped in pronouncing the name of the group: Jamaátu Ahlis-Sunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad.
He said, “But setting the inconsistencies aside, the message is clear that Boko Haram is responsible for the mass abduction.”