- As Gaidam denies accusing military of complicity
From Uche Uche, Damaturu and Umar Puma
The federal government yesterday confirmed that 110 students of the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, are still missing after gunmen suspected to be of Boko Haram invaded their school on Monday, February 19.
This confirmation came via the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed after a meeting between a federal government delegation and representatives of key stakeholders, including the state government, the college officials, the parents, security agencies and Bursari Local Government, where Dapchi is situated, in Damaturu on Sunday.
Mohammed said based on the briefings from the Principal of the College, Adama Abdulkarim, and the state Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, 906 students – out of whom 110 have not been accounted for – were in the school on the day of the attack.
Mohammed also announced that 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 their staffers.
He said that 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.
”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.
Also speaking, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau 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 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.
In a separate development, Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam has refuted report that he accused the military of pulling out troops from Dapchi hours before the invasion of the girls school.
A statement by Abdullahi Bego, Director-General Press Affairs to His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Gaidam which relayed the governor’s refutal said Gaidam never said that military men were “unexpectedly withdrawn from the town (Dapchi) a few hours before the attack” on the girls’ college in Dapchi as reported by a section of the media.
“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”, the statement said.
What Gaidam said before his guests and the assembled media, the statement adds, was that military men were withdrawn from Dapchi a week to the attack by Boko Haram terrorists.
“Some of the assembled media, including those on the entourage of His Excellency Governor Ganduje, have reported this correctly,” the statement noted.
It further quotes the governor as saying: “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”, the statement said.
And at a separate event, Gaidam faulted claim by the military that its men were in Dapchi town when Boko Haram insurgents attacked, stating that available evidence from residents testified that the military men were withdrawn before the attack.
He stated this yesterday when the Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima paid him a condolence visit at the government house Damaturu.
He wondered why such withdrawal has become a recurring incident in the activities of the military that when it takes place, Boko Haram attacks without resistance.
On the excuse he said was given to him by the military that it has shortage of manpower, the governor said it is the responsibility of the federal government to employ enough military hand not the state government, pointing out that his administration has done and is still doing all what it could to help the security operatives in the state.
Earlier, the Borno state governor, Kashim shettima told the governor that he was in the state to pay a condolence visit following the incidence involving the adoption of students in Dapchi, pointing out that Yobe and Borno states are sister states and share feeling when one suffers any kind of misfortune, noting that when the insurgents adopted the Chibok girls, governor Gaidam shared same feeling with.
While praying for the safe return of both the Chibok and Dapchi girls, Shettima expressed hope that the adopted girls would be seen and returned safely to their parents.