BY NDAHI MARAMA, MAIDUGURI
One week after insurgents attacked their community and abducted more than 100 of their school girls, residents of Dapchi, the headquarters of Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe state were gradually recovering from the shock as they recounted how the insurgents carried out the attack.
The residents also narrated how the girls were deceived by the terrorists who pretended to be soldiers who had been sent to rescue them.
According to one of the residents who witnessed the attacks but declined to disclose his name, he said the gunmen who were dressed in military fatigues and turbans arrived Dapchi unchallenged and started firing indiscriminately shouting “Allahu Akbar “ (“God is greatest “).
Another resident, Safai Maimagani , a herbal medicine vendor in Dapchi, said the militants headed towards the school, Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi, Borno State on Monday, February 19 and that “not long afterwards they returned, and I heard the cries of the girls from their lorry .”
Muhammad Kabo, a tea seller, gave a similar account: “They were here for less than an hour. I heard girls wailing in the truck and it was clear that they abducted some girls from the school. “
A school security guard who gave his name as Baa- Kolo said the gunmen tried to stop the girls from fleeing and deceived them into believing they had come to rescue them.
According to him, “ Some of the girls believed them and climbed up into the lorry. Many others just kept running. 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”.
Meanwhile, following the false information of the rescue of the girls, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State did not expect the kind of reaction that greeted his visit to Dapchi by the residents of the community last Thursday.
It will be recalled that before the attack on the GGSTC Dapchi the insurgents had attacked Government Girls Secondary School GSS Damaturu, GSS Mamudo, Federal government college Buni Yadi, College of Agriculture Gujba and GSTC Potiskum leaving scores of students dead and injured in the past
The residents of Dapchi, headquarters of Bursari Local Government Area which is 100 km drive from Damaturu, the state capital, and which also shares a porous border with Niger Republic, did not only boo the number one citizen of the state but threw stones and dangerous objects at his convoy, resulting in the destruction of some vehicles.
The governor was at Dapchi to tell the people that the kidnapped girls from GGSTC had not been found contrary to earlier information that they had been rescued by gallant Nigerian soldiers.
The governor, who attributed the conflicting statement to his inability to get accurate information from the right source, blamed the military who left the area one week before the attack, for the abduction of the girls.
One of the parents, Inuwa Mohammed, whose 16- year- old daughter, Falmata , was 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 the story was a rumour ,” he added .
Speaking on the abduction, Idris Abdul, Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR), described it as a national embarrassment, and blamed the federal and state governments for leaving the girls vulnerable.
He said “I expected that the government must have learned from what happened in Chibok by providing adequate security for the girls in the school.
He urged Governor Gaidam to intensify efforts by providing adequate security for all schools, especially the female institutions in the state.
Also lamenting, Spokesman of the North East Youth Initiative For Development NEYIF, Mallam Dauda Gombe in an interview, called on the federal government to ensure that all communities which were not covered by adequate security should be given enough military personnel to protect them from the insurgents.
He said that the increase of military personnel in the war theatre was the only way wanton killing and abduction can be avoided.
According to him, “if there were adequate military personnel to go round, the army commander in the state would not have been under any pressure to remove the soldiers protecting Dapchi at that material time” adding that some tactical mistakes would have been avoided if a mobile strike force was within five minutes reach.
Gombe expressed worry in the lack of coordination between the government and the military such that it took two hours before the mobile troops arrived the scene to save an already bad situation.
Gombe then requested that “all communities in the local government areas be assigned adequate military men to ensure the security of lives and property of the citizens.
In his own reaction, a security experts based in Damaturu Mr. Ali Abubakar Goni said the abduction in Dapchi was not only a national disaster, but an embarrassment to the Buhari-led Federal Government.
He advised that, “a more effective mechanism should be deployed to manage and close the gap between the time of postings and shifting of military duties”.
Goni also called for a more technical mobile strike force to be established to go round the local councils not only in Yobe but the entire council areas of the north east of Nigeria to fight insurgency.
He argued that “all schools be given adequate security men as it was done for commercial banks and many other public places. Above all, as it is clear that the insurgents have insatiable thirst for ladies, the government should upgrade the status of most boarding girls secondary schools urgently so that large number of kids would not be placed in a position where the insurgents would easily pounce on them”.
A veteran Journalist based in Maiduguri, Mr. Gbenga Akingbule also submitted that both government and the security agencies were to be blame for not living up to their constitutional responsibilities.
Another parent who gave his name as Mohammed Audu in Dapchi said, “the government have to sit up and be up and doing, looking at what happened in Chibok in the past four years.
“ One of the constitutional responsibilities of government is to protect human lives, anything short of this, it is better for those in government to resign, rather than shifting blames to the military or the police.
“Secondly, the issue of deploying, redeploying and withdrawal of the military to a vulnerable school like that of Dapchi was most unfortunate which I will describe as a fire brigade approach, so our security operatives should do the needful.
“ I therefore advise the government and security agencies to punish whoever was found to have neglected his/her duty that led to the abduction of the school girls to serve as deterrent for others”, Audu stated.