A freedom fighter enthusiast in Nigeria’s agitated northeast coordinated a heroic rescue of nearly 500 schoolgirls from a town under attack by Boko Haram. Channel4 report.
Mr Ibrahim Garuba Wala, [I G Wala], who has also been credited with averting a repeat of the Chibok abduction, is a leader of Nigeria’s National Consensus Movement (NCM).
Mr I G Wala pulled the daring evacuation of the children from deep in the bush, where they had fled with their teachers.
His rescue operation was conducted under the noses of the Nigerian military, which had reportedly refused to enter the area because it was too dangerous.
The incident happened two months ago, but has remained virtually unreported, even in Nigeria. I G Wala has provided photographs and video of the rescue, showing the 470 girls, all wearing school uniforms, running in single-file through dusty terrain, many barefoot.
Liaising with their teachers, who had alerted the NCM leader to their plight by mobile phone, I G Wala agreed a rendezvous point near a remote village accessible by road. He hurriedly arranged a fleet of passenger vans from the state capital, Gombe, 50km away, which whisked the girls to safety.
They had been boarding at the Federal Government College in Bajoga town, which had come under fierce attack by the jihadi insurgents, who entered the town in stolen Armoured Personnel Carriers. They attacked the police station, robbed the bank and looted shops.
A heavy gunfight ensued between the insurgents and the Bajoga police, alongside a few dozen soldiers based near the town. An unknown number of militants, police and military personnel were reportedly killed.
As the Boko Haram fighters entered the school compound, I G Wala was on the phone to a member of staff at the school.
“I could hear the teachers screaming at the girls just to drop everything and run. All I could think of was the girls from Chibok and I knew that we could not let this happen again,” he said. I G Wala has been an active member of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.
He claims he begged a Nigerian military commander to send in his troops to rescue the school girls but was told that the situation there was out of control. When I G Wala insisted on leading a group of civilians to rescue the girls, the commander, he says, agreed to supply two military escort vehicles.