• Boko Haram is gone forever from Sambisa, DHQ insists
• Women in Lake Chad forced into prostitution to survive, Says Red Cross
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja, Ernest Chiwno in Port Harcourt, Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday welcomed the recovery of another Chibok schoolgirl, Rakiya Abubakar, by Nigerian troops at the Alagarno area of Damboa Local Government Area in Borno State.
A statement by his media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president noted that the recovery raised renewed hopes that the other captured girls would one day be reunited with their families, friends and community.
Her discovery, with her six-month-old baby, brings to 23 Chibok girls that have been recovered from Boko Haram captivity in recent months. One hundred and ninety six girls remain in captivity almost 1,000 days after more than 200 girls were kidnapped from their school dormitory by members of the deadly sect.
Buhari also commended the military for the diligent investigation, which led to the recovery of Rakiya and urged them to continue in the spirit with which they cleared the Sambisa forest of terrorists.
The president assured Nigerians that the federal government would continue to do all within its powers to assist the military with locating the rest of the girls and eradicating the menace of terrorism in Nigeria.
The girl, according to military source, was rescued with her baby yesterday morning by troops of 27 Brigade, which is under the 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, with headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.
The brigade was deployed in the present fight against the insurgency along the Borno/Yobe border, according to the source.
The source said the troops found the mother and child around Alargano area near Ajigin which is also very close to Buni Yadi in Yobe State.
In an official confirmation of her rescue, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Usman, said: “Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, during investigation of arrested suspected Boko Haram terrorists, discovered one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Rakiya Abubakar, with her six-month-old baby.
“According to preliminary investigation, it was discovered she is the daughter of Abubakar Gali Mulima and Habiba Abubakar of Chibok.
“She further stated that she was a student of Senior Secondary School Class 3B (SS 3B), before her abduction along with her colleagues on April 14, 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorists.
“Rakiya Abubakar is presently undergoing further medical investigation and would soon be released to the Borno State Government.”
‘Sect is Gone from Sambisa’
In another briefing, the Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, yesterday stressed that nothing can bring back Boko Haram into its haven in Sambisa forest or the country, as the sect has been completely defeated.
Addressing journalists at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre, Port Harcourt, Abubakar stated that the Nigerian Military has successfully and completely defeated the Boko Haram insurgency.
“What we are seeing now as Boko Haram in Nigeria are just remnants that carry out these attacks. Most of the children that we caught were children who don’t even know what they were doing.
“They were being drugged and have the explosive devices strapped on them. Most of them were drugged and they were ambitious, so that those who sent them will meet their target.
“Even in most developed nations, you can hardly completely wipe out insurgents. There is always one scenario or the other just to pretend as if they are alive.
“But Boko Haram and all its apparatus have been completely destroyed. Boko Haram members are in disarray and that was why we issued a statement last week that due to the ongoing crackdown on Boko Haram, some escapees may try to integrate into the communities.
“As we announced this, we were equally working with other security agencies, who we have always collaborated with, to ensure that those fleeing Boko Haram members are apprehended.
“That helped us in Abuja and other places where we apprehended fleeing Boko Haram members.
“Boko Haram is gone from Nigeria and it has gone for good. There is no Jupiter that can bring Boko Haram; what we are doing is to only sensitise citizens on the need to alert us on fleeing Boko Haram members.”
Abubakar, who said he was on a nationwide tour to seek support and the understanding of stakeholders, especially the media, called on journalists to be guided by the national interest in their reportage of security issues.
On the fate of the Chibok girls, he said, “our Operation Rescue Finale is still ongoing to rescue the girls. Everybody who has been held hostage by Boko Haram, including the Chibok girls, will be rescued.”
The DHQ spokesman also stated that the opaqueness that characterised its operations in the past was gradually giving way to openness, stressing that there was now a new effort to relate better with the Nigerian public.
Abubakar who also spoke when he visited the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Bayelsa State Council, said the openness of the military occasioned his tour to media houses and the interface with relevant stakeholders in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
“I felt I must come to the Niger Delta and have a chat with the media executives and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists.
“The essence is, there is a (policy) shift in the military now. The issue of secrecy is now gone. We are now open. And because of this openness, we decided that we should extend a hand of fellowship to stakeholders, especially the media,” he said.
While seeking the partnership and collaboration of journalists in the Niger Delta to enable the military succeed in its operations in the region, he stressed the need for the military to be supported while carrying out its mandate of protecting lives and property and critical national assets across the country.
Abubakar added: “We need ourselves for this great country to move forward. We have a responsibility to protect the lives of innocent citizens. It is only when we do that that we can move the country away from crisis.
“Our duty as a military is to ensure total peace not only in the Niger Delta, but in all areas where we have operations.”
The defence spokesperson explained that Operation Delta Safe, the special security outfit set up to tackle militancy in the region, was established to guard against activities inimical to oil and gas facilities in the area.
He called on the media to lead a campaign that would produce lasting peace in the nation.
In his remarks, John Angese, the chairman of NUJ, Bayelsa State Council, thanked Rabe Abubakar for the visit.
He lauded the armed forces for their sacrifices in ensuring Nigeria remained a united country and assured him of the council’s support.
Hunger Forces Women into Sex Trade
Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday said women in the Lake Chad basin had been forced into prostitution to survive.
ICRC attributed it to the insurgency by Boko Haram fighters that had driven millions from their homes and left children to starve.
“The violence has displaced over 2.4 million people across the swamp lands of Lake Chad, where the borders of Chad, Cameroun, Niger and Nigeria meet, and disrupted the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of others,” ICRC was quoted in a joint report by Reuters and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as stating.
According to the United Nations, up to a million people had been cut off from humanitarian aid by Boko Haram in spite of a regional military offensive against the Islamist militants.
“It’s extraordinary to see a woman and her family and they have nothing other than what they have been given.
“The children are clearly malnourished and it’s just hopeless,” Simon Brooks, head of ICRC’s delegation in Cameroun, said.
According to Brooks, as the head of their households, some mothers have been forced to prostitute so they could feed their family, since many no longer have husbands because of the conflict.
“When you don’t have the means to survive, you’ll go begging for it.
“It’s a loss of dignity when you’re having to resort to something like that just to keep your children alive – fraternising with people who have money,” he said.
The unfolding catastrophe in the Lake Chad basin was named the most neglected crisis of 2016 in a poll of aid agencies by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Overshadowed by the wars in Syria and Iraq and the global refugee and migrant crisis, Lake Chad has barely made the headlines,” Brooks said during an interview in London.
The report said over seven million people lack food but insecurity makes it hard for aid agencies to reach the most vulnerable.
“Half a million children are severely acutely malnourished and on the brink of death if they are not treated.
“This area has suffered from decades of chronic neglect … if it continues to be under-funded and under-reported, then millions of people will continue to suffer,” Brooks said.