Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has said that rescuing the abducted Chibok school girls could take years.
The minister was speaking to the Hausa service of the Voice of America, VOA, in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State on Tuesday.
195 teenage school girls have remained in Boko Haram captivity after over 270 of them were kidnapped from their school, Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014.
21 of the girls were released by the terrorist group following negotiations, while two had been found by security officials with their babies at different times in 2016.
Ali, a retired brigadier general, said that the Nigerian military is committed to finding the girls and is currently combing the Sambisa forest, a vast area covering parts of three states in north-eastern Nigeria, which had been Boko Haram’s stronghold.
“It took the U.S. up to seven, eight, up to 10 years before they could get to Bin Laden,” the minister said.
“We are continuing our campaign in the Sambisa Forest in all its nooks and corners.”
Also reacting to the Chibok girls issue on the VOA programme, popular Islamic cleric, Nuru Khalid, said that failure to rescue the Chibok girls would mean victory for terrorism.
Khalid had on more than one occasion joined the Bring Back our Girls, BBOG, campaign group on protests to draw government’s attention to the plight of the girls.
“We can never allow the terrorists to win the war. If they got [away] free with those girls, then they have relatively won the war,” he said.
Also, a human rights lawyer, Bulama Bukar, who spoke at the programme noted that government needs to address the psychological trauma that families of the missing girls and other victims of Boko Haram brutality had suffered over the years.
“Married women have been made single again; kids have been orphaned; homeowners are without shelter; Nigerians have been turned into refugees in their own homeland,” he said.
President Buhari during his inaugural speech on May 29, 2015, pledged that the Chibok girls would be rescued within the first six months of his presidency, adding that the war on terrorism will not be considered won if the girls were not rescued.
In the president’s statement to mark three years since the girls were abducted, the President reiterated that his administration will continue to do everything possible to ensure the freedom of the girls.