•Said they were misled by false information
•FG unsure of the situation- Lai Mohammed
History has an unpleasant way of repeating itself and this time for the wrong reasons as the Yobe State Government have confessed to a misleading statement claiming that 48 out of over 100 Dapchi Schools girls kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in the North East state has been rescued by the Nigerian military.
The Governor of Yobe State, Mr. Ibrahim Gaidam in a statement on Thursday by his Director-General Press Affairs, Mr. Abdullahi Bego, said that their statement was based on false information.
“The public may recall that we issued a statement last night 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 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,” Gaidam stated.
This mirrored exactly what transpired between April 16-18, 2014 when over 200 girls of Government Secondary School Chibok, Borno State were abducted by the terrorists.
Like what is currently playing out, the Nigerian military had on April 16, announced that “all 129 girls” except eight has been rescued only to recant later on April 18, claiming misleading information.
Global Sentinel has reported how the conflicting figures and information by the government and security agencies on the Dapchi girls kidnap were not adding up.
There were more than three different numbers of the missing girls with dominant figures at over 50, 95 and 111 which also mirrored the Chibok girls saga with 129, 276, 219 and other numbers bandied between the security agencies, school authorities and Borno State Government.
For Yobe’s Gaidam, this became obvious as was in Dapchi on Thursday where he met with community leaders and the Principal and staff of the Girls’ College.
The governor also addressed the parents of some of the schoolgirls that are still unaccounted for where he told them to pray and exercise patience as the government and security agencies at all levels continue the work to address the unfortunate situation.
Against this backdrop, the Governor has also directed Education Ministry officials and the school administration to work closely with the security agencies to establish the actual number of the girls that are still unaccounted for and to contact parents and the community for possible information that could be useful in the investigation.
Gaidam said he “shares deeply and personally in the grief about the unfortunate event at the Girls’ College and, under his leadership, the Yobe State Government will continue to do everything necessary in partnership with security agencies and the federal government to address the situation.”
FG still unsure of the situation- Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has said that the Federal Government is still unsure about the true situation of things
To this end, Mohammed said the Nigerian government would need more time to assess the situation around the community where some schoolgirls were reportedly kidnapped in Yobe State on Monday.
“On the issue of the number of missing girls, we cannot give what we are not sure of, until we hear from their parents, we cannot say this is the number,” Mr. Mohammed told reporters shortly after he arrived at Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Thursday afternoon. “Give us a few more time please”.
Mohammed was amongst the three ministers that President Muhammadu Buhari asked on Wednesday to embark on an immediate fact-finding mission to the state.
The Minister’s response is also a stark reminder of how the previous administration of the then President Goodluck Jonathan were “unsure” about the situation of things in Chibok kidnapping saga.
Scores of girls are reported missing following a Boko Haram attack on the school Monday night. Conflicting accounts of both state and federal officials over the crisis have further confused and worsened the anxieties of parents and other citizens.
Mohammed’s comments that the Buhari administration cannot immediately give any details about the situation came a day after the state government said some of the kidnapped girls have been rescued and handed over to the Nigerian Army.
But that account now seems to be in dispute, as the Defence Headquarterssaid the alleged rescue could not be confirmed.
“We cannot confirm” the statement by Yobe State that some of the girls have been rescued, Defence spokesperson, John Agim, said Thursday morning.
Similarly, a federal lawmaker who represents the community said the report that girls were kidnapped was untrue.
“The military did not rescue any girls yesterday as being reported in the media,” Goni Bukar, the lawmaker representing Bursari/Geidam/Yunusari federal constituency, told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Thursday afternoon.
“I am currently speaking with you from the school and I stand here with the governor and other top military officials, I can tell you that no girls were rescued,” he added. “We have only been able to locate some girls in one or two batches at different places.”
Report revealed that Mohammed arrived at the community with Khadijat Bukar-Ibrahim, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Geidam, was on ground to receive the team. The Theatre Commander, Operations Lafiya Dole, Rogers Nicholas, a major-general, was also on the scene.
The minister and his entourage were briefed by the governor and the General Officer Commanding 3 Division, Damaturu.
Shortly after the briefing, the Minister told reporters that he was delegated by the president to visit the attacked community and commiserate with the victims.
He said his delegation which also includes a representative of the minister of defence, was also to find out the true situation about the missing schoolgirls.
On the issue of the missing students, the minister said it is still too early to determine their whereabouts.
“We are still monitoring the situation and what I want people to understand is that since two days ago some of the students who fled to neighbouring towns and communities had returned and more have been returning.
“When we arrived here we have been briefed by the governor and the GOC about the situation of the students. We know there are few students who are yet accounted for, but we don’t want to manufacture stories on this issue. But give us few days, we will be able to tell you exactly the real situation of things.
“But you can see response of the military, the response of the state government is quite commendable. Since four days now we have been following the efforts being made to arrest the situation,” he said.
He lampooned the Boko Haram and said the sect only attacked the school because it is in its dying days and craving media attention.
“But we must understand that these are they dying days of the Boko Haram and what they intend to do is to embarrass the government because they have been degraded, they have been pushed out of Sambisa forest.
“They have been starved out of oxygen and the oxygen they feed on is publicity so that they can grab the world’s attention. But I can assure you that with the determination of our gallant military, the days of Boko Haram are numbered.”
For the sake of historical perspective, Global Sentinel has republish below a report on Nigerian military explaining the Chibok debacle. Like Gaidam is finding out, military also claimed being “misled” in 2014.
WE WERE MISLED ON MISSING SCHOOL GIRLS, DHQ ADMITS
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Thursday admitted that troops were still searching for majority of the girls abducted by suspected Boko Haram gunmen at the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
As at the time of going to press, the whereabouts of about 99 out of the 129 missing school girls remains unknown.
There was controversy on Wednesday when the Borno State Government contradicted the DHQ, which said troops had rescued 80 of the school girls, saying only 30 of them have been found.
The DHQ said the report forwarded to the public on the purported rescue of 80 girls was done in good faith and not intended to deceive the public or play politics.
Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, made the clarifications in a statement following the controversy over the fate of the abducted girls.
The statement said: “The controversy that has been generated around the efforts at securing the lives of the abducted students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok is unfortunate.
“The ongoing frantic efforts of security forces along with vigilante groups, including, hunters working to locate and free the abducted students have continued to be keenly monitored at the Operation Centre of the Defence and Army Headquarters as regular progress reports are being received from troops on the ground.
“In this regard, a report was filed in from the field indicating that a major breakthrough had been recorded in the search. There was no reason to doubt this official channel, hence the information was released to the public immediately.
“Surprisingly however, the school principal, one of the sources quoted in the report, has denied all that was attributed to her – for whatever reasons.
“This is an unfortunate development, indeed, yet the Defence Headquarters would not want to join issues with anyone.
“It has to be reaffirmed however, that the report forwarded to the public on this issue was in good faith and not intended to deceive the public as is being interpreted following the denials by the school principal and government of Borno State.
“Like all other citizens, the military is deeply concerned to ensure that the students are safe and freed alive. There is indeed no reason to play politics with the precious lives of the students. The number of those still missing is not the issue now as the life of every Nigerian is very precious.
“In the light of the denial by the principal of the school, the Defence Headquarters wishes to defer to the school principal and governor’s statement on the number of students still missing and retract that aspect of earlier statement while the search continues”