…5 confirmed dead
There was wild jubilation in Dapchi, yesterday, following the release of schoolgirls abducted from their hostels a month ago by insurgents group, Boko Haram.
The insurgents rolled into town around 2 am, according to an eyewitness, in nine vehicles and the girls were left in the centre of the town.
Residents of Dapchi fled Wednesday morning upon hearing that Boko Haram vehicles were headed toward the town.
“We fled but, from our hiding, we could see them and surprisingly, we saw our girls getting out of the vehicles,” Umar Hassan told newsmen.
“They assembled the girls and talked to them for some few minutes and left without any confrontation,” said another resident, Kachallah Musa.
As terrified residents emerged from their homes, the extremists said “this is a warning to you all,” a member of the community, Ba’ana Musa informed newsmen.
“We did it out of pity. And don’t ever put your daughters in school again,” the extremists told the residents of Dapchi.
It was not immediately clear how many of the 110 girls had been freed.
“When I get there we will do a head count to see if all of them have been released,” said Bashir Manzo, whose 16-year-old daughter was among those kidnapped during the Feb. 19 attack.
Manzo confirmed that his daughter was among those freed.
“As I speak to you there is jubilation in Dapchi,” he said.
Their release comes a day after an Amnesty International report accused the Nigerian military of failing to heed several warnings of the imminent attack last month. The military has called the report an “outright falsehood.”
The mass abduction and the government response brought back painful memories of the 2014 attack on a boarding school in Chibok. Boko Haram militants abducted 276 girls, and about 100 of them have never returned. Some girls were forced to marry their captors, and many had children fathered by the militants.
Meanwhile, no fewer than five of the girls have been feared dead according to information gathered from their colleagues. However, names of the deceased are still sketchy as at the time of filing this report.
Asked to react to the report that some of the girls have died, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijah Bukar-Abba Ibrahim, who hails from Yobe said, “As far as I know now they are taking a roll call. So, we cannot ascertain how many have passed on or whatever. We will find out much later on what the casualties are.”
She however appealed to parents not to allow the incident discourage them from sending their children to school.
… I’m happy my daughter didn’t denounce Christ, says father of only captive yet to be released
Father of the only student of Federal Government Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State who is yet to be freed, Nata Sharibu, has said he is happy his daughter did not denounce Christ despite pressure from the Boko Haram insurgents.
In a surprising manner, Boko Haram fighters returned the girls to Dapchi, yesterday, but Liya Sharibu, the only Christian among them did not make it back to Dapchi.
Speaking on RayPower FM shortly after the students were released, the girl’s father said he learnt that the insurgents gave his daughter the option of converting to Islam but she rejected it.
He expressed delight over her stance but prayed for her return.
“All of them were released. They said some were dead there and my daughter is alive but they cannot release her because she is a Christian,” he said.
“They gave her the option of converting in order to be released but she said she will never become a Muslim… I am very sad but I am also jubilating too because my daughter did not denounce Christ.”
…girls to undergo medical test – FG
Following their release, the students of Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, are presently undergoing medical test, according to Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The Minister said this while speaking with reporters at the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja.
He said after their captors returned them to the town, the girls were taken to a hospital in Dapchi.
“As I speak to you now, they are in General Hospital in Dapchi and I’m aware that the counsellors are there with them. Just as we did when we had the first set and second set of the Chibok girls were released, they will be quarantined and by psychologically counselled before they go back to their schools,” he said.
Asked about the measures taken to secure the school if the girls return, he said: “If you remember, immediately this thing happened, Mr President actually directed the security agencies, especially the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, to man every school.
…our prayers have been answered – Saraki
The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has described the release of some of the abducted Dapchi Schoolgirls as a proof that the prayers of Nigerians have been answered.
He said this in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, where he also commended President Muhammadu Buhari, the security forces as well as the government of Yobe State for the efforts that led to the release of the girls.
Saraki further urged the Federal Government to ensure the return of the remaining Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.
Part of Saraki’s statement read, “The release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls is tremendous news for the country. Our prayers have been answered.
“I commend President Buhari, our security forces and the Yobe State Government for their effort in bringing back our girls. However, we cannot stop here. We must not rest until all the Dapchi girls, and the remaining Chibok girls are back home with their families.
“I hope that the girls that have been released will soon be reunited with their families and loved ones. It is also necessary that we ensure that they receive the necessary care and rehabilitation that they need to continue to lead normal lives.”
The Senate President further urged the affected families and the Yobe State Government to do all within their power to ensure that these girls continue their education.
…APC mocks Jonathan govt
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it is extremely delighted with the news of the return of the schoolgirls abducted from Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State by Boko Haram.
Its spokesman, Bolaji Abdullahi, in a statement, yesterday, said the development was another solid demonstration of the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration to secure the lives of all Nigerians.
“With this prompt release of the Dapchi girls, the APC government has demonstrated how government should respond to such situations”, he noted.
“If the immediate-past (Goodluck Jonathan) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration had responded with the similar alacrity, the Chibok schoolgirls would have been released or rescued.
“Instead, the PDP wasted several weeks wallowing in denial and conspiracy theories such that it was now left for the APC government to rescue many of the girls and rehabilitate them.”
…We didn’t pay B’Haram ransom – Lai Moh’d
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government did not give money to Boko Haram insurgents for the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls.
Mohammed said this while speaking with state house correspondents in Abuja, yesterday.
He admitted that the government negotiated with the sect but said violence and confrontation was ruled out.
The minister said the sect agreed to drop the girls in the town where they were abducted.
“The girls were released unconditionally, no money changed hands. They (Boko Haram insurgents) only had one condition – that they will return them to where they picked them. So, in the early hours of today, they did return the girls and most of them went to their parents homes.
“Like I said in the statement released to you early, once violence and confrontation was ruled out and negotiation started, there was a deliberate pause on the part of the military, in other words it was agreed that there will be no force, there will be no confrontation, that was why it was possible for them to drop the girls. It was part of the agreement that when they release the girls, there will be no violence or confrontation. And don’t forget that the lives of these children are much more important to us than any cheap victory.
Journalists sought clarifications on how a boy was among those kidnapped from a girls’ school.
Responding, he said: “Whether they pick the boy or not I can’t guess but don’t forget even in a girl school, which is a boarding school, there will be parents, there are teachers who can have children amongst them.”
…rescue, scam to score political points, says PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said the abduction of Dapchi schoolgirls was staged by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and certain officials in the presidency for political purposes.
Spokesman of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, made the comment on Wednesday in reaction to the return of 101 schoolgirls that were abducted in Dapchi, Yobe State.
He said the abduction was designed “to hoodwink Nigerians and orchestrate a great rescue and security prowess of a conquering general”.
The PDP spokesman said it is “an unpardonable gamble with human lives” to win the 2019 elections.
He said: “PDP condemns the All Progressives Congress (APC) and certain officials in the Presidency for staging the abduction of the schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, for political purposes.
“Our party considers this act as wicked, callous and tormenting to use innocent schoolgirls as pawns in an ignoble script that was designed to hoodwink Nigerians and orchestrate a great rescue and security prowess of a conquering general, all to push a 2019 reelection bid, is an unpardonable gamble with human lives.
“While this failed Dapchi drama remains a poorly crafted tragicomedy: a scam of no equal dimension, Nigerians are not ready to forgive the APC and the presidency for the torments inflicted on the girls, their parents and the human community worldwide just to score a cheap political point.
“Nigerians know that the main aim of this devilish act was to delude the public, set the stage for an orchestrated rescue, create a heroic myth and false sense of achievement around the APC administration and serve as a spur for President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration to contest the 2019 presidential election, perhaps in the coming weeks.
“As a political party, we want to further state unequivocally that by all ramifications, this is a war crime against humanity and gross violation of human rights on the part of the APC administration, all in the bid to push a selfish and ill-lucked 2019 ambition.
“There is no evidence that the Boko Haram insurgents or any militant group abducted the schoolgirls in the first place. Rather, what is evident to all is the high level official manipulation of security movements in Dapchi both in the staged abduction and the returning of the traumatised schoolgirls.
“Nigerians are all aware that both the abduction and return of the schoolgirls were dramatically preceded by questionable withdrawal of troops and all security apparatus at checkpoints and flashpoints in the Dapchi area.”