Better late than never. Nigeria’s special forces from the Army’s 7th Division have sighted and narrowed search for the over 200 abducted Chibok schoolgirls to three camps operated by the wicked Boko Haram sect north of Kukawa at the western corridors of the Lake Chad, senior military and government officials said.
That claim was supported by another senior commander from the Army’s 7th Division, the military formation created to deal with the insurgency in the Northeast. The 7th Division is headquartered in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
The breakthrough comes at a critical moment for the Nigerian military that has faced cutting criticism over its handling of the kidnapping of the girls more than a month ago.
“Our team first sighted the girls on April 26 and we have been following their movement with the terrorists ever since. That’s why we just shake our heads when people insinuate that the military is lethargic in the search for the girls,” one of the sources said.
According to Premium Times, Nigerian military officials coordinating the search and other officials in Abuja said Boko Haram insurgents split the girls into batches and held them at their camps in Madayi, Dogon Chuku and Meri, all around the Sector 3 operational division of the Nigerian military detachment confronting the group’s deadly campaign.
The location of the abducted girls – north east of Kukawa – opens a new insight into the logistic orientation of Boko Haram, responsible for thousands of deaths in a five-year long insurgency. President Goodluck Jonathan said the group has killed at least 12,000 people so far – that’s minus the hundreds killed in a car bomb on Tuesday in Jos and the about 10 murdered on Sunday in Kano in a suicide bombing.
Notwithstanding the sighting, the government is said not to be considering the use of force against the extremists, a choice informed by concerns for the safety of the students.
But with growing local and international pressure, a likely option may be for the authorities to enter into talks with the group, whose leader, Abubakar Shekau, in a May 12 video broadcast, called for dialogue and “prisoner” swap with the government.