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Army chief under fire for 'disclosing' Chibok girls whereabouts

28 May 2014, 10:05

Lagos - Legal experts criticised the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, for disclosing to the public that the army had knowledge of the location of the schoolgirls abducted in Chibok.

The army chief had said that the military was aware of the location of the abducted schoolgirls but cannot forcefully rescue them in order to avoid collateral damage.

Constitutional lawyer, Prof Itse Sagay, described the statement as careless.

Sagay, who said he shares the belief that the military should not apply force in rescuing the girls, said the statement was akin to alerting Boko Haram that their whereabouts are already known.

He said this might spell danger for the girls.

“The statement on its own is okay. You cannot really use force to rescue the girls even though you may know where they are. Any attempt to do that could result in catastrophe as they could kill the girls. I understand the concern,” Sagay said.

He also recalled a similar statement credited to Badeh on his appointment that Boko Haram will be crushed within three months.

“What makes me skeptical about this Chief of Defence Staff is that when he was appointed six months ago, the first statement he uttered was that within three months Boko Haram will be history. And rather than become history, Boko Haram has become a threat to the whole country and has virtually neutralised our Armed Forces. 

So, I am very skeptical about anything he says because really that boasts backfired too much. I hope this time, he knows what he is saying. While the caution about not forcefully rescuing the girls is understandable, I even wonder if he should have made the statement about knowing where the girls are because Boko Haram is also listening,” said Sagay.

“Should we tell the world that we know where they are? By so doing, are we not alerting them? So that statement is a little too indiscreet,” added the expert.

Other senior Lawyer, Festus Akanni, said the Army Chief should have “kept the information to himself” instead of endangering the lives of the abducted girls.

“I am really surprised that the Army Chief could make such a disclosure knowing fully well that the insurgents are also watching television. That statement is dangerous and inconsistent with the way security matters are handled. We just hope nothing happens to the girls,” said Akanni

The Boko Haram sect is holding the more than 200 girls hostage since their abduction from school more than a month ago.

The kidnappings have sparked international outcry.

Several countries have offered military support to help rescue the girls.

– CAJ News

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