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President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday expressed the confidence that Nigerian troops will liberate Gwoza from members of the Boko Haram sect latest on Friday.
Once that feat is achieved, he said it would not take the nation more than one week to clean up.
Jonathan assurance is coming just as a woman who was recently released by the Boko Haram sect told the icirnigeria.org that the over 200 girls abducted in Chibok in April 2014 are being held in the town.
Speaking while granting audience to a group of international election monitors who paid him a visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Jonathan said “We believe by tomorrow (Thursday) or latest Friday, we will be able to take over Gwoza. If we take over Gwoza it will not take us more than one week to clean up. Now Boko Haram is not in position to come out and disrupt elections,” Jonathan told his guests.
He recalled that when security operatives advised that elections be rescheduled for security reasons, a number of people thought it was just because of the terror attacks in some parts of the North.
He however admitted that that was a major factor too because the Boko Haram set was in three states: Borno, Yobe and Adamawa at that time.
“They were holding territories, some local governments were completely under their control and invariably there were no government in those places.
“And of course, some states like Gombe and Bauchi were also not free. In fact, it would have been difficult to conduct elections in five states of the federation.
“If we had conducted elections on that February 14, they would have come up to disrupt elections in these five states and that would have made the presidential elections in these five states inconclusive.
“This is because whoever emerged a winner though we are 14 candidates but the PDP and the APC candidates are the two that are well known.
“It would have been difficult because probably the vote difference of any of these candidates, if you aggregate the remaining five states that elections would have been disrupted, it would have been difficult to declare a winner.”
Jonathan added that Gombe State was attacked on the same day the presidential election was earlier scheduled to hold. He said the aim of the insurgents was to disrupt the elections but they were repelled.
The President assured his guests that elections would be conducted on the Saturday across the country and there would be no reason for inclusive results.
On the whereabout of the Chibok girls, the woman who was recently freed by the Boko Haram sect said they are in Gwoza because she was held in the same location as the abducted Chibok girls.
Mbutu Papka, 56, who was kidnapped in July 2014 and held by the insurgents for eight months in two locations, said confidently that the abducted girls were being held under very tight security in a house in Gwoza.
Ms. Papka said nobody is allowed near the fenced building where the abducted girls are being held under 24-hour security. Even the heavily armed guards, who keep watch over the girls round the clock, it was learnt, are only allowed to go into the house to deliver food, water and other supplies to them.
The woman was seized along with others when Boko Haram attacked Gwoza on July 4, 2014 and taken to Mdita, a remote village near the notorious Sambisa Forest, bordering Askira Uba, Damboa and Gwoza.
The abductees, who included many children, according to Ms. Papka, were kept in Mdita for five months before being transferred to Gwoza, where they were held for three months before they were finally released on March 15.
It was while in Gwoza that she learnt that the Chibok Girls, whose abduction has attracted global attention, were being housed in a compound adjacent to where she and other abducted people were kept.
Asked how she knew the girls were there, Ms. Papka said she never saw the Chibok girls, but explained that people in the area pointed at the heavily guarded flat and said the girls were inside.
Because access to the house was restricted, she said, the girls apparently did their own cooking and chores by themselves.
“In the camp at Gwoza, there were clear demarcations between where people were kept. The Chibok girls, other captives and Boko Haram members and their family members all had their separate areas secured, though the security in the area where the girls are kept is visibly different and much tighter,” she said.
Ms. Papka explained that the conditions under which the captives in Gwoza were kept were fairly tolerable and far better than the first location, as there was water supply.
She said that after they were taken to Gwoza, their living conditions improved remarkably because the town has modern facilities, as opposed to the rustic Mdita.
“When we got to Gwoza, things changed because there were facilities there and the place was 10 times better than Mdita. We had a normal life in Gwoza, except the trauma of living in captivity. Whatever we wanted to eat, they were provided. They would bring water, firewood, etc., and leave them outside,” she explained.
A few other comforts were provided.
“They even provided perfume for anyone who requested for it,” she added.
According to her, at Mdita, she met other abducted people including women and children, among whom were many under the age of seven, all living in terrible conditions.
“There was a room we used to urinate in and because of lack of water, the place stank and maggots were everywhere. We took our baths once daily, if we were lucky,” she said.
Because of the terrible conditions and absence of health care facilities in the camp, many people fell sick and some died.
“There was a Redeemed Christian Church of God pastor who was killed during the attack on our village, and his wife was abducted with us. She died at Mdita due to the condition of the place and the death of her husband,” Ms. Papka said.
The pastor’s wife, she explained, had diabetes and, before her abduction, had been on a special diet which could not be provided by the insurgents.
Ms. Papka said she and the other women were not raped or assaulted, although she could not speak for the Chibok girls because nobody was allowed to see or interact with them.
She also said that the Boko Haram men lived with their wives and children in the Gwoza camp, but kept away from others and cooked their own meals.
On March 15, 2015, after three months in Gwoza, Ms. Papka and 10 other older women were taken from the camp, herded into a vehicle and driven to Izge, a village, from where she was taken to her own village on a motorcycle because the road is bad.
The ride, however, was not free.
“I was asked to pay N8, 000 for the motorcycle ride, which I collected from my family,” she stated.
This website also learnt that a two-year old boy was given to Ms. Papka when she was released. The boy, who is reported to be sick and has rashes on his body, has since been reunited with his family, which is now seeking financial assistance to take the child to hospital.
“He was crying uncontrollably, so they (Boko Haram) handed him over to me as we were leaving,” she said.
Gwoza local government area of Borno State, which is just over 100 kilometres from Maiduguri, the state capital, is said to be one of the council areas still wholly in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists.
Gwoza town was first captured by the insurgents in August last year, following a heavy gun attack by insurgents who hoisted the sect’s flag and declared it the headquarters of the group’s Caliphate.
Over 12,000 persons were displaced from the town and repeated attempts by the military to recapture it in the past have failed largely due to the hilly terrain, which provide hiding places for the terrorists from which to operate.