The search for the abducted girls of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State in the past few weeks has proceeded without much success by the armed forces. And following the initial claim by the military that they had rescued most of the girls, and the separate denials of the claim by the parents on one hand, and the principal of the School on the other, the parents, in tandem with vigilante members in Borno state were prompted to embark on a joint rescue mission. The school girls, aged between 16 and 18, were abducted by gunmen pretending to be military officers mid April.
We recall with pains that the responsibility of protection of lives and property of citizens from internal and external threats lies squarely with the police and the armed forces. When hapless individuals, moved by agony and frustration, added to the seeming failures of the law enforcement agencies to protect them against itinerant gunmen, resort to taking risky measures to protect themselves by daring the heavily armed insurgents, it becomes a major indictment of the police and the armed forces.
Mothers of the abducted girls had reportedly resolved to head to Sambisa forest on a deadly mission to find their children after the authorities failed to find them. This does not speak well of the armed forces, especially the intelligence circles who, as it were, have not risen to their professional calling of securing citizens from menace of insurgents. It does not speak well of Nigeria either. The country has a record of good performance in peace keeping operation and peace enforcement in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Despite this feat, Nigeria has had difficulty in stamping out insurgency to the extent that individuals will be left without any option than to resort to self effort. The argument that the armed forces cannot use maximum force against citizens cannot stand because we have had cases of excessive force applied without success in the fight against insurgency. The Baga massacre which many allege to be extra judicial killing is a good example.
Concerned by the fact that the girls were still being held captive by their abductors with no progress on their rescue by the military, the National Security Council had ordered the armed forces to immediately find and free the girls before it gets late. We consider this order an opportunity for the armed forces to redeem their image by deploying all military and intelligence energies in securing the release of the girls unscathed. Only by doing that will they win back public confidence and trust.
We are of the opinion that in order to achieve maximum result in the search, the armed forces should eschew all forms of politics. All the agencies involved in the search should close ranks, collaborate and share information to effectively track down the insurgents and free the girls. We also welcome the idea that the United States, the UK and Canada are willing to assist Nigeria by providing intelligence that will save the situation. Such a collaboration is good as long as it does compromise the sovereignty of Nigeria, or undermine its corporate principles and policies.