…As search for Dapchi victims intensifies
BY NDAHI MARAMA, DAMATURU
We saw several girls crying for help as four Tata trucks conveying them out of Dapchi sped off”
With these words, a man resident in nearby village of Gumsa, narrated the abduction of some students of Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi in Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State on Monday.
The villager said that, as the abductors passed by, they took him and some other residents in one of their trucks so that they could show them a shorter route out of the area.
After showing them the road out of the village, according to him, the invaders released him and the other villagers and sped off. About 111 were reported to have been unaccounted for after the dusk attack on the Yobe community.
The state Police Commissioner, Abdulmaliki Sumonu, about 48 hours after the incident (Wednesday), confirmed that 111 schoolgirls remained unaccounted for.
He said, “815 out of the 926 students were physically seen in the school as of Tuesday. There are reports that more girls have returned to the school after the headcount.”
The commissioner said security forces had traced the insurgents to location where they were reported to have been seen.
Reports said the insurgents invaded Dapchi at about 5.30 pm and headed to the Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi and took the girls without confrontation.
Inuwa Mohammed, who claimed his 16- year- old daughter, Falmata , was among the girls missing, said he was “ devastated by this twist of events” and that his wife fainted on hearing the news and was in hospital”.
“ I woke up with the strong hope of meeting my daughter and my wife had been making preparations for a warm welcome, only for us to receive this shattering news that all along the story has been a rumour ,” he added .
Residents said the insurgents, dressed in military fatigues and turbans arrived unchallenged, firing weapons and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar ‘(God is greatest ).
Safai Maimagani , a herbal medicine vendor, said the insurgents headed towards the school on the edge of the sleepy farming community.
“ Not long afterwards they returned ,” he said. “I heard cries of girls from their trucks”
Muhammad Kabo, a tea seller, gave a similar account: “ They were here for less than an hour. We heard girls wailing in their trucks and it was clear that they had abducted some girls from the school. “
A security guard with the school, who gave his name as Baa, said the invaders tried to stop the girls from fleeing and tricked them into believing they had come to rescue them.
“ Some of the girls believed them and climbed into the trucks but many others just kept running,” he added .
Hadiza Makinta, one of the students who escaped unhurt said, “she was fasting on that very day of the incident” and thanked God for sparing her life while she ran to the bush for safety.
Dapchi is 100 kilometers north of Damaturu, the state capital, and remained one of major towns that had not recorded an attack from Boko Haram since the terrr group started terrorising the North-East in 2009 until that Monday.
Confusion had trailed the attack with Yobe State Government initially saying the military was able to rescue some of the girls. It later turned out that the statement was false.
Governor Ibrahim Geidam’s statement that the rescue story was false came about 24 hours after the state government, in a statement by the Director of Information, Abdullahi Bego, said the girls had been rescued by the military.
Bego had said in the statement: “Yobe State Government hereby informs the public that the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.
“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.
“We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course.
“His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who is very grateful for the gallantry and hard work of the officers and men of the Nigerian Army involved in the operation, is monitoring the situation closely and will make a statement in due course”
Gaidan, who visited Dapchi on Thursday,described the rescue statement as misleading and apologised to the community folks.
The information sparked angry reaction from s who attacked the governor’s convoy as he left the venue of a meeting he held with the community on the school invasion.
The protest however did not gather momentum because attention shifted to the school where the abduction took place and to which the governor headed to await the arrival of the delegation sent by President Muhammadu Buhari.to assess the situation.
Three ministers – Lai Mohammed (Information), Mansur Dan Ali (Defence) and Khadija Bukar Abba, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs – later arrived in two helicopters. They met with Gaidan.
Appealing to family members of the captives to exercise patience with government, Lai Mohammed told journalists present that the freedom of the girls would remain a priority.
He said the actual number of the missing schoolgirls would be known when parents come forward with information on the whereabouts of their wards.
We can’t confirm rescue story — DHQ
The Defence Headquarters also dismissed the rescue story. “We cannot confirm the statement by Yobe State that some of the girls have been rescued,” Defence spokesperson, Brigadier-General John Agim, said.
Agim said he could not give further details about the military’s intervention in the matter.
Senate condemns attack, resurgence of Boko Haram
Meanwhile, the Senate, on Thursday, , in very strong terms, condemned the resurgence of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, following the Dapchi incident.
The upper chambre of the National Assembly, in a resolution, asked the Federal Government to recover the girls to avoid a repeat of the Chibok girls’ experience.
It also said it was unfortunate and disheartening that Boko Haram was back to the geo-political zone in a way that contradicts the Federal Government’s claim that the insurgents had been decimated or defeated.