• Some students unaccounted for – Lai Mohammed
Olanrewaju in Dapchi; Ali Abare, Gombe; Fred Itua; Ndubuisi Orji; Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Two of the girls abducted by Boko Haram at the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi, Yobe State, on Monday have been reported dead in a failed rescue operation.
Their bodies were recovered on Wednesday by the Nigerian military.
This is even as the Federal Government yesterday confirmed the abduction, admitting that many of the schoolgirls were yet to be found.
Also yesterday, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam said none of the students in captivity of Boko Haram insurgents were rescued.
According to agency report two of the girls were killed while some others were still missing.
The report said a resident and a local government official said there was jubilation in Dapchi community over the rescue of some of the girls.
“Everybody is celebrating their coming with songs and praises to God Almighty,” said Babagana Umar, one of the parents whose daughter had disappeared.
“The only sad news is that two girls were dead without explanation.”
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who led the Federal Government delegation to Dapchi headquarters of Bursari Local Government, declared that some of the girls were still missing and unaccounted for.
“What we know as at today (Thursday) is that some of the girls are still unaccounted for. That is because some of them are still trickling back to the school,” he said without giving details of the number of girls rescued or seen.
He said the responses from the military and Yobe State government was commendable:
“Since this thing happened, I have been in touch with the governor, the theatre commander and the GOC (General Officer Commanding).”
He said Boko Haram was looking for oxygen to breath having been pushed out of Sambisa and other fringes. Mohammed was accompanied by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Abba Ibrahim and a representative of the Minister of Defense. And speaking when he visited community yesterday, Gaidam told family members of the students to keep praying that the girls should be found.
The state government, however, regretted that it issued the statement, claiming some of the girls were rescued based on the “information provided by one of the security agencies involved in the fight against Boko Haram,” which it had no reason to doubt.
Another statement issued yesterday by Abdullahi Bego, Director General Press Affairs said:
“The public may recall that we issued a statement last night (Wednesday) in which we announced that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, who went missing after Boko Haram terrorists had stormed their school last Monday were rescued by officers and men of the Nigerian Army who are currently executing the war against the Boko Haram insurgents.
“We have now established that the information we relied on to make the statement was not credible. The Yobe State Government apologises for that.”
A parent whose two daughters are among those missing, Modu Goniri, 45, Personal Assistant to the Commissioner for Works, was categorical that about 94 schoolgirls were still missing.
The governor reportedly pleaded with affected family members and the people
of the community to keep praying to God for the release of their daughters.
Residents of Dapchi said they were unhappy about government announcement on Wednesday night, claiming some of the girls were rescued and in save hands of the military.
Abdul Dapchi, a resident, said Gaidam lost control of the crowd immediately he made the confession.
“We were all angry. How could they have deceived us all along?”
Dapchi, whose two sisters were among the abducted girls, lamented that the community became infuriated at Gaidam after his confession that no girl was actually rescued on Wednesday.
His daughters, Aisha, 18 and Falmata, 17 both SSSII students are among the missing.
“It is not true that some girls were rescued. About 94 of the girls are still missing, including two of my daughters,” Modu said.
He denied that the Nigerian military rescued some girls. He equally denied that 48 of the girls turned up the following morning after the Boko Haram attacked the school.
“No one can actually say the whereabouts of the girls, they have disappeared completely without any trace,” Modu insisted.
Meanwhile, the three senators from Yobe State, namely, Ahmad Lawan, Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Mohammed Hassan, yesterday, clashed over the abduction of Dapchi schoolgirls on the floor of the Senate.
They clashed when Ibrahim raised a point of order to draw the attention of his colleagues to conflicting reports about the whereabouts of over 100 female students.
Trouble started as soon as the Senate Leader, Lawan, concluded his remarks. He had hailed the efforts of Governor, Mr. Geidam.
“I want to commend Geidam for ensuring that parents were comforted and for sending officials of the Ministry of Education to go round the families and ensure that they took head counts of the girls from that school,” Lawan had noted.
Obviously infuriated, Hassan described Lawan’s comments as “quite disheartening to hear.” He maintained that the governor failed in protecting the students in the state.
He recalled five attacks on public schools in the state in recent times and concluded that the governor had abdicated his duties as the chief security officer of the Boko Haram ravaged state.
Hassan said: “In 2013, a secondary school in Potiskum was attacked, where over 70 children were killed. A year after, another secondary school in Mamudu was attacked where school children were slaughtered. There was another attack in Yadin Buni where students were attacked. The state university too was attacked and now we have this one.
“This is quite disheartening to hear, with due respect to Senator Lawan, to commend the state government for serially failing to protect our students. This is the primary responsibility of the government; to protect the lives and properties of its citizen.
“The state government of Yobe has serially failed in this regard. It has abdicated its primary responsibility in doing that.”
At this point, Lawan protested: “I have my reasons for commending the president, the governor and government of Yobe State.
“If my colleague doesn’t see those reasons and he has his perspective, he doesn’t have to refer to me that what I said is not in order.
“I have my facts, he has his facts. I will advise, that he states his fact without making reference to me.”
Ibrahim, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari sent three of his most senior ministers to Yobe to continue reporting to him on regular basis and not a single person has so far been killed.
“The abduction is yet not confirmed. The ministers and military are on the ground.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, defended Hassan. He said the senator was at liberty to disagree with Lawan. He also claimed that he was unaware of any reference to Lawan by Hassan.
He said: “He didn’t mention your name. He was only talking about the governor. If he had mentioned you, it would be driven to that aspect you read.
“So concentrate on what you want to say. Senate leader is entitled to praise the government and you are also entitled to condemn them. This is the theatre of democracy.”
Adopting the two prayers of the motion, the Senate condemned the attack on the school and issue of insurgency.
It also urged the Federal Government to quickly recover the girls so as not to repeat the issue of the Chibok girls’ experience of April 2014 in Borno State.
Also yesterday, the crisis rocking Northern Senators’ Forum (NSF), resurfaced.
Ali Wakil, who was absent when Abdullahi Adamu was sacked as chairman of the NSF, accused some northern senators of bypassing due process in his (Adamu) removal.
He called out the Senate spokesman Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and claimed that he led two other senators (Shehu Sani and Isah Hamman Misau) to the press centre where newsmen were briefed.
He alleged: “When the announcement was made, the spokesman of the Senate led some senators to the press centre to make some of these bombastic statements.
“By this, I want to say that my privilege has been breached because my constituents and other concerned northerners have also expressed their disgust that why are we trying to destroy our leadership. I want the Senate to take judicial note of what I am saying.”
The Senate spokesman immediately reacted, saying, “I need to react to what Wakil alleged. I did not address the media as a northern senator.
“I addressed the media in my capacity as spokesman of the Senate. It is on record that whenever I address the media, I always go with some lawmakers.
“I did the same thing on Wednesday when I addressed newsmen. I needed to set these records straight.”
The European Union (EU), also said the abduction of the schoolgirls was an attack on humanity.
In a statement by the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ray, in Abuja the EU said: “Targeting children and abducting young girls as they seek to attend school is an attack on our common humanity.”
It expressed solidarity with the affected families and the people of Nigeria.
UNICEF said on its part said teachers and school children are still traumatised by the eight years of Boko Haram conflict in the northeast states,.
Its Chief Field Officer, Borno State Office, Geoffrey Ijumba, said, “a lot of teachers and school children have experienced blood, killing and destruction.”
He said the teachers and students were still traumatised to settle down in the school environment due to the violence of the eight years.
He said UNICEF is building the resilence capacity of the teachers to ensue they are stable psychologically to teach equally traumatised students.
In a separate development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), disagreed with security agencies over claims that 48 out of the 94 schoolgirls were rescued.
Speaking at the commencement of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting in Abuja yesterday, the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, accused the Federal Government of “misleading Nigerians that some of the kidnapped girls from Yobe have been rescued, but we have authentic information that the girls have not been rescued.”
Secondus also alleged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) already put modalities in place to rig the election in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Consequently, the PDP chairman charged members of the party BoT to go home and mobilise their people for the 2019 general elections.
Earlier, BoT chairman, Jubrin Walid, admonished members aggrieved over the last convention of the party to put the past behind, noting that power comes only from God.