Some of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents at Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi in Yobe State have been rescued by the Nigerian Army.
Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, Director General to Yobe State governor on Press Affairs, who disclosed this yesterday, admitted that some of the schoolgirls were actually abducted by Boko Haram on Monday.
“The Yobe State Government hereby informs the public that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists on 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,” the statement said.
Combined security operatives are currently combing bushes and neighbourhood communities in and around Dapchi, where over 90 schoolgirls were, on Monday, declared missing following an attack by Boko Haram.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian military and other security agencies to immediately take charge of the school.
The insurgents had, on Monday, attacked the school, firing sporadically and forcing staff and students to flee for safety. In the process, the gunmen looted the school’s foodstuff.
Yobe State Commissioner for Education, Mallam Mohammed Lamin, in an interview with New Telegraph, said the security operatives were helping to search and recover the missing schoolgirls.
Fifty-four students are still missing following the attack.
The state government on Wednesday confirmed that over 50 of the schoolgirls are still unaccountable.
The Yobe State Police Commissioner, Abdulmaliki Sumonu, said the security forces had pursued the insurgents in a new location where they were reported to have been seen.
The Yobe police boss had, on Tuesday, said 111 schoolgirls were still unaccounted for, following Monday’s attack by Boko Haram members on the school.
A source in the school told our correspondent that the number of missing students dropped after some of the students’ parents reported yesterday of the return of their children.
“We are still searching for the remaining 54 students,” the source told New Telegraph.
According to the Education Commissioner, as at Tuesday, 71 students were missing and that by yesterday, some of them have returned to school.
He said: “The security agencies are currently carrying out the search for us. They are on it, combing everywhere.
“As of now, the roll call we took on Tuesday, 71 were missing. We were made to understand that some of them have returned to the school, and many more may be coming in. We have been getting them in trickles, and we hope all of them will return, and we also hope most of the parents whose children may have reached home would also tell us.
“We were made to understand that there were pupils who left the school without informing the authorities. They boarded vehicles down to Damaturu, Gashua and other places. As soon as we get information that they have reached home, then we would also update our status.”
Abdullahi Bego, Director-General (Press Affairs) to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, in a statement made available to New Telegraph, said the Yobe State Government is working with the Nigerian Army and other security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all students in the school are fully accounted for.
His words: “As the public is aware, the students were helped by their teachers to escape through the night to the surrounding bush and villages as the terrorists stormed the town on Monday.
“Out of the 926 students in the school, over 50 are still unaccounted for as of the time of this statement (Wednesday). However, the Yobe State Government has continued to receive information about some of the girls being found in the general area to which they escaped.
“The state government is coordinating with the army and law enforcement agencies to ensure that those girls are returned safely.
“The Yobe State Government assures parents and the school community that it will do everything necessary to ensure that all the missing girls are found and returned to their school and families and that security is improved in the area.”
The Yobe State Government said it has no credible information yet as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists.
A community leader in Dapchi, Yobe State, who pleaded for anonymity, said: “The insurgents went into the students’ hostel and many of the students scaled fence to the bushes. Until we have the final list of these students, no one can tell if they are abducted or not.”
He said some parents have also reported to the school authority that their children had reached their homes safely.
The Monday’s incident has sparked fears of a repeat of Chibok abduction.
More than 50 parents and guardians gathered at the school yesterday demanding information.
“We can’t find our girls that have been missing for two days. We don’t know if they are alive or not because we can’t tell of their whereabouts,” one of the guardians, Abubakar Shehu, said.
Shehu said some of the parents have searched the villages for the missing schoolgirls to no avail.
“Our fear is that the worst has happened. We hope this is not another Chibok,” Shehu, whose niece is one of the missing girls, said.
Inuwa Mohammed, whose daughter, Falmata, is also missing, said he, alongside other parents, have been searching for their missing girls.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the presidential villa, Abuja.
According to the Information Minister, President Buhari has approved the deployment of a Federal Government delegation, including the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd); the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama and himself to Yobe in order to get first-hand information on the situation.
“Mr. President has directed military and other security agencies to take immediate charge and control of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, and inform him of developments,” he said.
Asked whether the Federal Government was in position of fresh information concerning the whereabouts of the missing girls, the minister said it was the reason why the President is in direct touch with the military and security agencies.
“That is precisely why Mr. President is in direct contact with military and police and as soon as we get any information we will let you know,” he added.
President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has condemned in strong terms the attack on the Yobe school by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
Saraki, in statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described the attack as one too many.
He urged the security agencies to get to the root of the matter, bring the perpetrators to book and ensure that all students of the school are properly accounted for.
Saraki called on security agencies to reinforce security around academic institutions in the country in order to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of such soft targets to disrupt academic activities.
He also urged the security agencies to be proactive in protecting lives and property in the country.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the Inspector-General of Police to put all machinery in place to recover the alleged missing Dapchi school girls.
In a statement issued by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party expressed worry over reports which claim that the students were declared missing after insurgents attacked the girls’ secondary school, Dapchi, Yobe state on Tuesday.
“Indeed, we are very disturbed by this ugly development, especially given the conflicting reports on the whereabouts of these innocent girls.
“Our party restates that the life, safety and wellbeing of all Nigerians remain of paramount importance to us and we, therefore, insist that all efforts must be exerted to find these students.
“The PDP is monitoring development on the position of the Nigeria Police investigation of the matter,” the party said.
The party urged the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled Federal Government to live up to its basic responsibility of protecting lives and property in the country.
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