An intermediary of Boko Haram has claimed that two of the girls abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, have died from snakebite while 20 others are critically ill, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
This shocking news has come as a blow to millions of Nigerians and people from around the world who have joined the BringBackOurGirls movement, demanding the release of the schoolgirls in good condition.
In a televised media chat on Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan said that an encouraging bit of news so far was the fact that there had been no report of loss of lives.
However, the terrorist sect's leader, Abubakar Shekau, has released a new video claiming credit for the kidnap of the schoolgirls and threateninh to sell out the girls.
The Boko Haram kingpin further said that the sect was ready to negotiate ransoms for the girls. The man who claimed to be an intermediary also said that the Christians among the girls had been forced to convert to Islam.
President Jonathan had, during Sunday's "Presidential Media Chat" dismissed insinuations that the federal government was negotiating with Boko Haram to secure the release of the abducted schoolgirls, adding that the government could not have been negotiating with faceless people.
I kidnapped your schoolgirls, Shekau claims in new video Shekau, in a video, claimed responsibility for the abduction of more than 200 final-year students GSS, Chibok, Borno State.
In the video, the hoodlum said,"I abducted your girls. By Allah, I will sell them in the market, and Allah has commanded me to sell them in the market."
"There is a market for selling human beings. Allah says I should sell them. He commands me to sell them. I will sell women. I will sell women," he continued in local Hausa language.
However, the BBC Hausa Service points out that the Boko Haram leader did not state the number of girls abducted, nor where they were taken or are now.
Dressed in his usual combat attire and armed with AK47 rifle, Shekau who spoke in Hausa and some Arabic said the girls would be held the way their colleagues were being kept in various detention cells of the military "without any negotiations ".
He said the girls are regarded as war booties, upon whom his group has rights over and can even "sell them in market ", if they so wish.
"We would also give their hands in marriage because they are our slaves. We would marry them out at the age of nine. We would marry them out at the age of 12," he said.
"Western education is sin, it is forbidden, women must go and marry," he said.
He said the abduction of the girls was justifiable because "it is just the same way they incarcerated our members in Nigerian prisons"
One of the parents of the abducted girls, Ms Martha Yarama Ndirpaya, in her interview with the Hausa service of the (BBC) has accused the federal government of being insensitive to the plight of the girls and its slow pace of rescuing them from the heartless abductors.
In a broadcast appearance on Sunday, Jonathan promised, "Anywhere the girls are, we will surely get them out."
The president described the girls' abduction as a trying and painful time and pleaded for the cooperation of parents, guardians and local communities in the rescue efforts.
Earlier yesterday, President Jonathan ordered top security officials to do everything possible to secure their release.
Officials also reported that they believe some of the 276 missing girls have been moved across the border into Cameroon and Chad.
Insurgent attack Cameroon, free detained members
Gunmen crossed the border from Nigeria into northern Cameroon yesterday, killing two people and freeing suspected militants being held at an army post. Authorities believe the assailants are members of the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram, the Hausa service of the Voice of America (VOA) reports.
Thirty armed men entered Cameroon's territory from Nigeria's Borno State early yesterday and attacked a military post in the town of Kousseri.
Parts of the town, which also borders Chad, were ransacked in the attack. Cameroon's state radio reported that a soldier and a prisoner were killed and an undisclosed number of Boko Haram members freed.
State radio journalist Ebenezer Akanga, who is based in the area, told VOA that the invaders opened fire indiscriminately. "As soon as they got to the brigade [military post] they opened fire," Akanga said. "One of the gendarmes [military policeman] riposted in an attempt to push back the assailants. The members freed one of theirs who was being held under custody after he was arrested last Saturday in Kousseri with arms."
The attackers left with a huge consignment of arms and ammunition, according to Akanga, who said that defence forces have tightened security along the borders.
It's the third time Boko Haram has attacked the Cameroonian city.
Cameroon's government responded to critics who accuse officials of not doing enough to fight Boko Haram.
"We all know the saying that when the neighbour's house is consumed by fire there is risk that we receive sparks," said government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma. "Cameroon is resolutely committed in collaboration with its neighboring countries in the fight against terrorism and border crime."
Scores killed as Boko Haram Attacks Gamboru Market
Scores of persons have been feared killed in a border town of Gamboru-Ngala, Borno State, following a broad day attack on locals by gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents, who invaded the community in their hundreds, shooting and freely detonating explosives.
Gamboru-Ngala is about 130km away from Maiduguri, the state capital.
The attack, which started at about 11am, dragged on till evening as soldiers of the Nigerian Army engaged the attackers in a deadly shootout.
A ranking officer at the Department of State Services (DSS), who sought anonymity, confirmed the incident to LEADERSHIP. He could not give the casualty figures, but a resident of Maiduguri, Ari Fantami, who claimed to have relatives in the attacked border town, said, "They said many people have been killed or injured, but my brother there could not tell because they had to run for their lives. They attacked and burnt many security posts, the market, local government offices and homes. He also told me that many people may have died because the shooting was everywhere. I am very, very worried for him because at the time he spoke to us, he said he was in the bush".
Obasanjo, Amosun lead protest in Abeokuta
Ogun State women yesterday in Abeokuta, the state capital, joined other compatriots within and outside the country to ask the federal government to draw out new strategies that would ensure the immediate release of over 200 schoolgirls abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State.
The placard-carrying women, clad in black attire and led by the wives of Governor Ibikunle Amosun and former president Olusegun Obasanjo, Mrs Olufunso Amosun and Bola Obasanjo respectively, and the Iyalode of Yorubaland, Alaba Lawson, trooped out in a protest against the abduction of the girls by the Boko Haram sect.
The women threw the challenge at a solidarity rally, calling for their unconditional release and pleaded with the government at the centre to protect them from all forms of violence.
At the end of the protest walk which took off from the MKO Abiola Stadium through Government House in Isale Igbehin, the State House of Assembly, and terminated at the Governor's Office, a letter of appeal asking the federal government to expedite action in the search for the girls held hostage since April 14 was delivered to Governor Amosun for onward delivery to President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.
Speaking while delivering the letter on behalf of other mothers, Mrs Amosun said they were joining other women across the globe to identify with the abducted girls and their parents who are going through hard times, pointing out that what happened to them could happen to anybody.
"Today, we women of Ogun all join our faith to lend our voices to the call by other women in the country and across the world. We want to show our sympathy for the schoolgirls that were kidnapped in their hostels in Chibok and identify with their parents in these trying times.
"We are worried about their safety, because nobody knows where they are. It is these girls today,it could happen to anyone, so we are pleading that the president does something quickly," Mrs Amosun appealed.
Appreciating the women for joining in the solidarity walk, Mrs Amosun urged them to pray ceaselessly for fruitful results as the search for the abducted girls continues.
Responding, Governor Amosun assured the women that their letter would be delivered to the president in due course, calling on Nigerians to work in harmony and do things that would unite all tribes in the country.
"Violence will do us no good. We are all one in Nigeria, whether Muslims, Christians, Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa."
Boko Haram issue does not need window dressing - ASUU
The national leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities yesterday stated that the federal government is not capable of protecting its citizens amidst the insurgency going on in the country.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the union's national president, Comrade Nasir Fagge Isa, during a press briefing in Abuja.
The union has expressed disappointment over the way and manner the federal government is handling the affairs of the country, saying that adhoc fire bridge approaches and half measures cannot work.
"Boko Haram issue does not require window dressing but a surgical treatment. The root causes must be known and addressed," said the union. "We have reached a point where the more the government claims to have tried to curb the insurgency activities, the more insurgency grows to other frontiers. It is therefore apparent that the only recipe will be to undertake a deep, new comprehensive analysis of the root causes of the insurgency that has proved till now intractable and is destroying national integrity.
The union further stated that "the insurgency has led to the death of thousands of people, depressed the economy, intensified ethno-religious and regional tension".
Abducted Schoolgirls: Police Quiz Protest Leader For 8 Hours
Police operatives from the Asokoro Police Station yesterday quizzed the leader of the protest for the release of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls, Mrs Naomi Murlah Nyadar, over alleged impersonation.
LEADERSHIP learnt that Nyadar, leader of "Bring Back Our Girls" group of over 500 women that staged a protest march to the National Assembly to seek the immediate action on the abduction of 234 secondary school girls, was arrested following the orders of the first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, during a meeting with mothers of the abducted girls.
Murlah was reportedly arrested in the early hours of yesterday for impersonation during the stakeholders' meeting convened at the First Lady's conference room at the Presidential Villa.
However, both the Nigeria Police and an aide of the first lady denied any involvement in Nyadar's arrest and detention.
In a statement signed by the force public relations officer, CSP Frank Mba, he said the police only invited Nyadar to the station and was, shortly after, released after she cooperated with the police.
According to Mba, "Police operatives this morning, 05/05/2014, invited one Mrs Nyadar Naomi Mutah, a native of Chibok and Deputy Director at the National Directorate of Employment, Abuja.
"It was purely an interactive and fact-finding interview. Mrs Nyadar cooperated with the Police in the course of the interview and was immediately allowed to return home to her loved ones. She was never arrested nor detained."
The media assistant to the first lady, Mr Ayo Adewuyi, in his reaction to allegation that the first lady ordered the arrest of Mrs Nyadar, said Patience Jonathan did not order arrest of Nyadar, stressing that Nyadar left the State House with other members of the delegation.
Against instruction that all the women at the meeting should write down their names at the entrance to the First Lady's conference room, Naomi who is a deputy director at the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) in Abuja was said to have written down her name as Grace, the name of one of the women cleared by security to attend the meeting from Borno State.
Mrs. Jonathan, it was learnt, told the meeting that Naomi had claimed earlier that she was one of the parents whose children were abducted.
Although she admitted that Naomi did impersonate at the meeting, the first lady noted that she did not order the arrest of the woman who attended "the women stakeholders' meeting discussing ways and best strategies to ensure the release of the abducted children".
The statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday notes: "We wish to state without any iota of equivocation that the First Lady did not order the arrest of any woman or any one for that matter before, during and after the meeting.
"It is instructive to note that the meeting ended after three o clock, Monday morning and all those invited to the meeting including a handful of journalists who stayed throughout the lengthy meeting left the Presidential Villa thereafter. The Naomi Murlah mentioned in one of the reports came to the meeting as part of Borno delegation. The women were alarmed when someone who knew her told the meeting that she was impersonating one of the mothers of the allegedly abducted children on the basis for which she attended the meeting.
"The women expressed their disappointment when she confirmed that she is not a biological mother to any of the abducted children. Naomi left the State House with other members of the delegation. If she was arrested as claimed, then enquiries about her arrest should therefore be directed to the security agencies. It is an unfounded rumour which the First Lady knows nothing about."
According to reports, Patience Jonathan, while ordering Naomi's arrest, had said, "When they said they have come to lay complaint to the government and the National Assembly, I asked for the leader of the mothers whose children were abducted. This woman was the one that came forward and said that her child was abducted. I believed her and I asked the women affairs minister to follow her to the National Assembly.
"This is the woman who went to National Assembly with the women in black and she claimed that her child was missing and that she is the leader of parents that their children are missing in Chibok. Senate
President believed them, even I believed them. God is leading us to the truth. Our coming out is not in vain. She called people like Oby to follow her as they also believed her. Oby is innocent and I don't blame her because even I as first lady was moved.
"Today, when I sighted her, I said within myself that we will get to the conclusion today because one of those whose children are missing is here. But to my greatest surprise, when we asked her, she said sh's a representative. She wrote down her name as Grace. A whole civil servant impersonating; she should be arrested for impersonation."
Asking the Borno State commissioner of police who was at the meeting to take action on the matter, she said: "You have to take this woman to I.G. and the president."
At the meeting, Naomi was also said to have confessed that she had no child among the abducted children but that she was contacted to represent one of those persons expected to attend the meeting at the First Lady's conference room.
"It was in the morning that somebody called me from Borno State, one Mrs Grace. She said that she was supposed to come. But that since we are here as Chibok representatives, that we should come and represent her here," she said.
Asked whether she had been to Chibok in the last one year, she said : "I have not gone to Chibok in the past one year."
Minister of women affairs Zainab Maina told the meeting that the woman had last week admitted that she was one of the mothers of the abducted girls in Chibok.
She said: "I saw this lady and two others on Tuesday. My deputy director came into my office and said, you are talking about going to Chibok; mothers of those abducted girls from Chibok are here and they are in Eagle Square. When I asked them if they are mothers from Chibok, they said yes. I asked them where is their destination, and they said National Assembly and Villa.
"I said no, you can't come to Villa, maybe National Assembly. I followed them to National Assembly to listen to what they wanted to tell the legislators. I sat to the end until they finished and I then asked them for the leader of the delegation. She came forward and I asked her where are the girls from Chibok, how many of them and if she could give me the names of the girls, and she said that they were not from Chibok and that they are based in Abuja.
"I shouted oh my God, you have killed me. If I knew you are from Abuja, I won't waste my time to come here and talk to you. Later on, somebody made enquiries and my permanent secretary took her phone number and name, and she is a deputy director in NDE. I was really angry with them and walked out from the place."
She added: "I wish to state without any iota of equivocation that the first lady did not order the arrest of any woman or anyone for that matter, before, during or after the meeting. "
Meanwhile, one of the arrowheads in the sit-in protest to free the abducted schoolgirls and former minister of education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, in her twitter account, told how the operatives whisked Nyadar to the police station and detained her for eight hours.
According to Ezekwesili, after frisking Nyadar for eight hours a presidency van came and whisked her to an unknown destination.
Some of her twits read: "Protest leaders moved from Asokoro police station in presidency van.
" AP is reporting that Nigeria's First Lady, Patience Jonathan ordered the arrest of protest leader.
"8 hours after Mrs Naomi Mutah Nyadar was detained unjustly, the police have refused to speak to her husband and lawyer.
"I have just read her arrest was for her claim to be a mother of one of the abducted Chibok girls. Is the police accusing her of lying or is there something else?
"Mrs Mutah has been taken from Asokoro police station to an unknown destination. Her husband was not even told her destination."
Ezekwesili lamented that she could not believe this was the democracy for which some of them were beaten on the streets of Lagos.
Dame Patience wanted to humiliate Governor Shettima's wife in Villa -- Aide
First Lady Patience Jonathan had a clear motive of humiliating Hajiya Nana Shettima, wife of Governor Kashim Shettima, at a scheduled meeting in the Villa and it was part of the reasons the governor's wife sent a representative at the meeting and remained in Maiduguri to prepare for her planned trip to Chibok where she met with parents of the abducted girls in order to support them.
Mrs Jonathan was yesterday reported accusing the governor's wife of showing less concern over the abduction because she didn't attend meetings held by women at the Villa on Saturday and Sunday.
Press secretary to the Borno governor's wife, Aisha Muhammad Hassan, in a reaction yesterday said while Dame Patience painted a different picture, Mrs Shettima had actually travelled to Abuja all the way from Maiduguri on April 28 and, on the evening of that day, she met the first lady at the Villa and took two hours to brief her on the schoolgirls' abduction as well as her (Mrs Shettima's) personal effort and that of her husband, Governor Shettima, towards the freedom of the girls. Some wives of service chiefs and national women leader of the PDP, Mrs Kema Chikwe, were present when the governor's wife met with the first lady.
Hassan noted that it was shocking to the governor's wife when she saw Dame Patience on the television accusing the governor of Borno as being responsible for the abduction. It became clear to the governor's wife that from the body language of the first lady and some of her close associates at the Saturday meeting, there was high possibility that the first lady's demand for the governor's wife on Sunday was to humiliate her by accusing her husband to her face in the midst of participants at the meeting and she thought it was better she concentrated on her planned trip to Chibok on Monday morning.
Hassan explained that before her meeting with Dame Patience on April 28, the governor's wife had held a meeting with a coalition of women groups that included stakeholders of Chibok, officials of the National Council of Women Societies, wives of security chiefs in Borno State, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria, Association of Christian Widows, Association of Muslim Widows, the National Association of Women Journalists, selected female professionals that included university lecturers, political appointees and the principal of the attacked school after which a communique was issued as was reported by the media.
Stand By Govt, Tinubu Urges All Nigerians
Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Lagos State governor Ahmed Tinubu yesterday called on Nigerians to shun ethnic, political and religious divide and file unanimously behind government in its effort at rescuing the 234 schoolsgirls abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
Government on its part, the APC leader also noted, must do its best in refining its military and intelligence operation in the best possible manner that would enable it tackle the situation, even as he urged government to first admit that its solely military approach had been inadequate.
"This nation needs her children back and all of us, regardless of political stripe, religion, region and origin, stand behind government as long as government does its utmost to win back the lives of our daughters. Until then, we are reduced to peering into the sky and hoping for the hand of Providence to redeem us, be you a Christian or a Muslim," he stated.
In a statement he issued yesterday on the increasing spate of insurgency in the country, he urged Nigerians to stand united against the threat to their national existence, noting that the twin-bombings in Nyanya in a space of two weeks poses a challenge to all Nigerians.
He said, "The explosion was a brazen attempt to demoralize the nation by striking an important transportation hub in our beloved nation's capital. The second bombing stands as an act of evil defiance of constituted authority. The terrorists now try to frighten us by showing that our security forces are unable to stop them, even in our nation's capital.
"However, whatever terrible lesson they think they teach us, we refuse to learn.
Our classroom is life, liberty and justice. If the people were to see government as their ally and true guardian, Boko Haram will have no space to operate. Right now it operates in the space created by widespread indifference and cynicism."
Urging government to refine its military operations, Tinubu who said he was not in any way trying to curry political advantage noted that he was only stating the obvious, his political differences with the Jonathan administration notwithstanding.