Half of Dapchi schoolgirls 'taken to Niger Republic'
by Hamza Idris, Latifat Opoola (Abuja) & Hamisu Kabir Matazu (Damaturu)
Nearly half the girls abducted from their school in Yobe State are said to have been ferried across the border into Niger Republic.
The girls were seized from Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi by suspected Boko Haram terrorists on Monday.
Credible sources told the Daily Trust yesterday the girls were split into two groups; one was left in an enclave in northern Borno State and the other taken to a village in Niger Republic.
It was gathered that the girls were abducted by the Musab Albarnawi faction of the Boko Haram which is loyal to the Islamic State of West Africa.
The group had lost grounds along the shores of the Lake Chad, the same way Abubakar Shekau, the factional leader of the group suffered was sacked from the Sambisa Forest base following onslaught by the Nigerian military.
“The girls ferried across a shallow river and are held in the border town of Duro in Niger Republic,” the source, who does not want to be named, said.
“The second batch has been moved to Tumbun Gini area of Abadam LGA of Borno,” he added.
Abadam, with headquarters at Malam Fatori is three kilometres from Bosso Niger Republic.
The military was not available for comments last night.
FG says 110 Dapchi Girls unaccounted for
Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday confirmed that 110 students of the school, are so far unaccounted for.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, revealed the figures after a meeting between a Federal Government delegation and representatives of key stakeholders in Damaturu, the Yobe State capita.
Present at the meeting were senior officials of the state government, the college principal, parents of the missing girls and representatives of security agencies
The minister said, based on briefings from the Principal of the College, Hajia Adama Abdulkarim, and the state Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lami, 110 have not been accounted for. He said 906 students were in the school on the day of the attack.
The minister also said the Federal Government has directed the police and civil defence authorities in Yobe State to immediately deploy their personnel to all the schools in the state in order to ensure the security and safety of the students and staff.
He said the Federal Government has stepped up efforts to rescue the girls and return them safely to their parents, saying the security agencies are working on many leads regarding the whereabouts of the girls.
A statement from the minister’s office said: ‘’This is the second time in four days that a Federal Government delegation would visit Yobe State since the unfortunate incident.
This is a measure of the seriousness with which we are addressing the issue. The security forces are leaving no stone unturned in their search for the girls.
‘‘We are back here in Yobe as part of efforts to provide some succour to the parents of the girls, to let them know that they are not alone and also to reassure them that we will not rest until we have found the girls. We will carry the parents along on the efforts we are making,’’ he said.
For his part, the Minister of Interior said the delegation embarked on the trip in order to get the facts right ‘’so that the approach to the solution can be correct’’.
‘‘We must get back the girls and also ensure that this does not happen again,’’ he said.
The Federal Government delegation, which comprised the Ministers of Information and Culture as well as that of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retired), held an enlarged meeting that was attended by Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State; members of the state cabinet, the Principal and Vice Principal of the school, representatives of the parents of the missing girls and security agencies, among others.
Military withdrawal aided school attack, Gaidam insists
Yobe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam re-emphasized yesterday that the Boko Haram attack in Dapchi and Buni-Yadi years back were aided by Military withdrawals from those locations.
The governor, who spoke during a sympathy visit paid to him by Borno State governor and chairman, Northern Governors Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said the military did not notify them when troops were withdrawn.
“I want to put the record straight, there was no military presence at the time of Dapchi attack because we don’t even know that the Military have been withdrawn.
“The Dapchi and Buni-Yadi attacks are similar because both attacks came weeks after the military withdrawal. I want the press to quote me on this” he said.
Governor Gaidam said it was not an accuse for the theatre commander to attribute the military withdrawal to shortage of personnel.
“When I met the Theatre commander on why the military were withdrawn, he said they have shortage of manpower. To me, it is not an excuse because it’s duty bound for the FG to recruit and bridge the gap” he added.
Yobe State government said yesterday that the Military withdrew from Dapchi a week not hours as reported by an online newspaper.
Also a statement by the Director-General, Press Affairs to Yobe Governor, Malam Abdullahi Bego said the report by the medium is erroneous and misleading.
The statement said Gaidam was reported as having told Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State when he came on a sympathy visit to Government House Damaturu that military men were “unexpectedly withdrawn from the town (Dapchi) a few hours before the attack” on the girls’ college in Dapchi.
“We wish to put it on record that His Excellency Governor Gaidam did not say the military were withdrawn “a few hours before the attack.”
“Here is what the governor said on the issue: “The unfortunate situation that I observed and about which I drew the attention of the Theatre Commander who came with the FG delegation to Dapchi and the GOC who is resident here is that there is no justification whatsoever to withdraw the military from Dapchi town knowing fully well that there is a girls’ school there and that the local government area is one of the flashpoint areas. They withdrew the military personnel from the town last week which was not even known to us. Within the week following the withdrawal of the military, this incident happened. I drew their attention to that so that they restore the presence of the military personnel. A lot needs to be done even though Mr. President is doing his best to ensure that the insurgency is stamped out”.
“Therefore, the timeline for when military presence was withdrawn from Dapchi as reported by SaharaReporters is erroneous and misleading.
Attacks in Dapchi, Buni-Yadi similar - Shettima
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, said yesterday that the attacks on the girls’ school in Dapchi had reminded him of the abduction of Chibok girls because they are similar.
The governor said both attacks occured when least expected. “Nobody expected attack on Dapchi. This reminds us to be on guard”.
Shettima noted that the only difference in the attacks is the APC-led Federal government has responded swiftly in Dapchi without any denial.
“Neither denial, nor conspiracy theory as was done in the case of Chibok girls abduction under PDP-led Federal Government. We should learn to separate politics from human lives” he said.
He said they shared with Yobe people the pain of the unfortunate incidence “I have been in your shoes; I know the trauma and pain you are going through. Parents look up to you”, he said.
The governor advised people in the state to be calm, while expressing optimism that the girls would return to their parents safely.