Missing schoolgirls: Dapchi angry residents stone Yobe governor’s convoy
Written by Henry on February 23, 2018
The visit of Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, to Dapchi was cut short as angry residents of the town pelted his convoy with stones.
Boko Haram members had stormed Government Girls Technical College in Dapchi on Monday, but the schoolgirls were said to have fled into the bushes in the area.
While some of the girls had been returning to the school, 46 were said to be missing.
The crowd, still at a loss over the whereabouts of the missing schoolgirls, showed their disgust to the governor on Thursday.
On sighting him, the crowd who had apparently prepared for him, threw stones at his convoy, injuring some of his aides, as well as government officials.
The security men attached to the governor had to use tear gas to disperse the angry crowd who also destroyed seven vehicles in the convoy.
Many officials in the convoy were seen with bloodstained clothes as they were injured in the attack.
One of the journalists in the convoy, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a cameraman was also injured.
He said: “We were in fear as the residents continued to throw stones to protest against government’s handling of the girls’ abduction.
“The angry residents ignored the tear gas as they vandalised seven vehicles in our convoy.
“From the little information that we got, they were angry that the Yobe State Government deceived Nigerians that the schoolgirls had been rescued when nobody was rescued.
“Some of them told the governor to present the girls that were rescued.”
It was gathered that the governor had to leave the town in a hurry to forestall any disaster.
The Yobe State Government on Thursday said men of the Nigerian Army did not rescue any of the missing Dapchi schoolgirls.
The state government had issued a late night statement on Wednesday, announcing that some of the schoolgirls were rescued by “officers and men of the Nigerian Army who are currently executing the war against the Boko Haram insurgents.”
The government in another statement on Thursday, however, said, “We issued the statement on the basis of information provided by one of the security agencies that is involved in the fight against Boko Haram and which we had no reason to doubt.
“We have now established that the information we relied on to make the statement was not credible. The Yobe State Government apologises for that.”
‘We don’t know number of missing pupils’ – FG
The Federal Government says the number of missing pupils has become a mystery due to the nature of the incident.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who visited Dapchi, Yobe State, on Thursday, said this during an interview with News men shortly after returning to Abuja.
The Federal Government’s spokesman said when the terrorists were approaching the school, the principal asked the pupils to run to safety.
The minister said most of the pupils returned to school the following day, adding that when a roll-call was conducted, it was discovered that quite a number had yet to return.
He said it was difficult to determine who was missing because the incident happened at night.
Mohammed said, “Since the incident happened, the army and other security agencies have swung into action and have been combing every nook and cranny. So far, we cannot say the number of people that are missing because people are still reporting or calling that they are safe.
“We will need a few more days so we can give an exact figure of those missing. I was at Dapchi and I held meetings with the Governor of Yobe, the Commander of Operation Lafia Dole and the General Officer Commanding of the army formation in Damaturu.
“They confirmed that Boko Haram members came to town and the principal asked the students to leave the school but when the roll- call was conducted later, quite a number of pupils could not be accounted for.
“The town crier and others went out and since then, the pupils have been trooping in. So, we cannot say the number of people missing. I am in touch with the security agencies; I will update you.”
Mohammed was accompanied by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadijat Bukar-Ibrahim and the representative of the Minister of Defence.
Earlier at Dapchi, Mohammed told News men that Boko Haram was in its dying days, adding that the attack was to get media attention with intent of embarrassing the government.
‘Don’t treat Dapchi pupils like Chibok girls’
The Senate has warned against treating the attack on Government Girls Technical College, like the case of the Chibok girls.
Like the Dapchi attack, Boko Haram terrorists had attacked Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, on April 14, 2014, during which over 200 pupils were abducted. More than half of them have either escaped or been released, while others are still in captivity.
The Thursday warning followed the adoption of a motion at the Senate plenary which was moved by Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim (Yobe East) on the attack.
The upper chamber noted that there was a “resurgence of attacks by Boko Haram,” which was linked to payment of ransoms to the terrorist group.
Granting the payer of the motion, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to “condemn the attack on the school and resurgence of insurgency;” and urged the Federal Government to “urgently rescue all the girls and not repeat the Chibok girls’ experience.”
Speaking on the motion, Senator Joshua Lidani stated that the Chibok girls incident should have taught Nigeria a lesson that schools are a major target of the insurgents. He lamented that the Federal Government had continued to pay ransoms to Boko Haram to secure release of captives, thereby empowering the terrorist group.
Lidani said, “We have observed of recent that this spate of kidnapping happens whenever Boko Haram members are being severely attacked or are on the run. They devise a means of going to abduct people so that they would negotiate with the Federal Government for ransom.
“It happened with the recent abduction of some University of Maiduguri members of staff. The government negotiated with them (insurgents) and they got money. Even on police officers’ wives, the Federal Government negotiated and gave them money.
“We need to be proactive in this case because the idea of sitting down and negotiating and paying ransom; we are empowering Boko Haram to continue to do more. This may not be the end of it because if they had abducted these girls, they would demand ransom and if the ransom is paid, they would continue to engage in this (abduction).”
Lidani urged President Muhammadu Buhari to do more by visiting the scenes and victims of attacks to show empathy.
He said, “But the most worrisome aspect is the fact that whenever we are faced with this kind of situation, the nation ought to hear from the President. He ought to say something.”
In his ruling, Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, said the Senate was aware that the military and the police “are overstretched in all ramifications at this period of national insecurity.”
He said, “If you are now asking the military and the police to provide security in all the schools, they cannot have the number to do so. There must be another level of policing to complement the Federal Government security infrastructure to be able to secure all parts of Nigeria.”
Members of the Senate from Borno State, however, clashed over the level of response to the attacks by the Yobe State Government.
While the Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North), commended the Yobe State Government for its efforts in providing security, Senator Mohammed Hassan (Yobe South) faulted Lawan, alleging that the government had not shown much concern.
Seconding the motion, the Majority Leader described the attack on the school and abduction of the pupils as unfortunate. He said after the similar incident involving the Chibok girls, it was the wish of Nigerians and international community that such incident would not recur.
He said, “I want to at this point commend President Muhammadu Buhari, for immediately taking action by directing the armed forces to move into Yobe and ensuring that Boko Haram does not run away with a single girl from Dapchi.
“I want to also commend the Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, for ensuring that parents were comforted by sending officials of the Ministry of Education to go round the families.”
Hassan, however, countered Lawan, accusing the Yobe State Government of laxity in responding to successive attacks in the state.
Fayose expresses concern
The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has expressed concern over the reported attack on Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.
He appealed to the Federal Government to stop “lying to Nigerians that the Boko Haram insurgency has been completely defeated” and to ensure that pupils who were still missing were found.
The governor said the report by Transparency International that corruption in Nigeria worsened between 2016 and 2017 was another vindication of his position that the All Progressives Congress government of President Buhari was not fighting any corruption.
“Transparency International only confirmed what I have said that President Buhari is hiding under anti-corruption fight to harass his political foes while protecting corrupt people in his government,” he said.
The governor, in a statement in Ado Ekiti on Thursday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said it was painful that despite the claim by the Federal Government that Boko Haram was “technically defeated,” 94 students were abducted in Yobe State.
He said, “My heart goes to those 46 students that have yet to be found and I urge the Federal Government as well as the Yobe State Government to do all within their powers to bring the students back to their families.
“The Federal Government should stop lying concerning the fight against Boko Haram insurgents because it has now become the tradition that whenever the government boasts of defeating the insurgents, greater havoc is wrecked on the country.”
Makarfi blames security lapses
A former National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has blamed security lapses for the attack on Government Girls Technical College.
Makarfi, a former governor of Kaduna State, said government, knowing its precarious nature, ought to have secured schools in the area against attacks.
He said, “The experience of Chibok and other abductions ought to have necessitated the tightening of the security around schools in that area since it has been shown on more than one occasion that they easily fall prey to the insurgents.”
A statement by spokesman for the former governor, Mallam Mukhtat Sirajo, on Thursday, said the former governor was sad about the attack and the missing girls.
He called on the Federal Government to spare no time in rescuing the remaining girls, noting that what happened to the Chibok girls must not be allowed to recur.
Atiku rallies support for schoolgirls
A former Vice President and chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has called for support for the security agencies to be able to rescue the missing Dapchi school girls in Yobe State.
In a tweet on Thursday, Atiku stated that his heart and prayers were with the missing girls and their families.
His twitter handle read, “My heart and prayers are with the #DapchiGirls who are missing and their families. Let’s give our unconditional support to them and to the agencies and security forces who are working to find them. There is nothing that should unify us more than the safe return of these children.”
PDP accuses FG of misleading Nigerians
The Peoples Democratic Party has faulted reports that security operatives had rescued 48 out of the 94 school girls abducted by Boko Haram in Yobe State.
The party warned the Federal Government not to treat the missing girls with levity.
Speaking at the 78th meeting of the party’s National Executive committee in Abuja on Thursday, the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, accused the Federal Government of misleading the nation on the true state of the missing girls.
He said, “This government is 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.”