PUNCH: Minister orders IG relocation to N’East, UN flays girls’ abduction

The United Nations on Wednesday condemned the abduction of Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State by Boko Haram insurgents, calling for their “immediate and unconditional release.”

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, in a statement by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said the UN would support the Federal Government to fight terrorism and violent extremism.

The UN Secretary-General said the Federal Government must bring those responsible for the abduction to book and ensure the safe return of the schoolgirls to their families.

The statement read in part, “The United Nations Secretary-General has denounced the abduction of more than 100 schoolgirls by suspected Boko Haram insurgents during an attack on an educational institution in north-eastern Nigeria and called for their safe return to their families.

“The Secretary-General calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all the missing girls. The UN chief also urged Nigerian authorities to swiftly bring those responsible for the act to justice.

“Guterres reiterated UN’s solidarity and support to the governments of Nigeria and other affected countries in the region in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

Minister orders IGP, NSCDC boss’ relocation to N’East

 The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, has directed the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu, to relocate to the North-East.

The presidency disclosed this on Wednesday in a series of messages posted on its Twitter handle, @NGRPresident.

According to the message, the two security chiefs were asked to liaise with the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole as well as governors of the affected states to ensure deployment of personnel to all schools in the liberated areas in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa states.

“The minister said the directive has become necessary to forestall a re-occurrence of the attack on innocent schoolchildren,” another message read.

Air force creates command point in Maiduguri

The Nigerian Air Force said on Wednesday that it was coordinating the air search for the missing Dapchi schoolgirls from its base in Maiduguri, Borno State.

A statement by the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Vice-Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, said the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, had relocated to the NAF Base at Maiduguri, from where the air search operations for the missing Dapchi girls were being coordinated.

Adesanya said, “This is in order to have first-hand information on the progress of the air search efforts and to also give additional directives. The National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno, was equally at the NAF Base, Maiduguri, where he spoke to the personnel involved in the day and night air search operations.

“Also, the NSA said about 100 sorties have so far been conducted by NAF in the search for the missing girls within a stated period.”

NAF spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday that the number of sorties conducted by the air force while searching for the abducted girls does not “equate the number of aircraft deployed.”

Adesanya said, “There had been reports that 100 NAF aircraft had been deployed to search for the missing Dapchi girls.

“The number of sorties does not equate the number of aircraft deployed.”

Fishermen, farmers employed to search for Dapchi girls

The military has employed the services of local fishermen and farmers in the search for the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls, the head of counter-insurgency operation in the North-East, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas, has said.

Speaking at the opening of a helipad, an office complex and residential quarters for officers and airmen at the newly established 171 Nigerian Air Force Detachment in Monguno, Maiduguri, by the National Security Adviser, Maj Gen. Babagana Monguno, Nicholas  said over 200 hours had been spent by craft in the search for the girls.

He added that the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Air Staff came down to add value to the ongoing search for the schoolgirls.

He said, “What this means is that nobody is sitting down. The government is serious about rescuing the abducted girls. That is why the NSA is here to see things for himself and add value to what we are doing.

“The NSA has also introduced us to some local fishermen and farmers, who have very good knowledge of the terrain. to work with us in terms of intelligence and contribute to the search efforts.

“The Nigerian Air Force has been airborne since the last three days and we will declare additional platforms to do this exercise. Many areas have been covered; over 200 hours have been spent flying and combing the whole theatre in search of the girls.

“Additionally, the ground forces are in various searching places identified.”

B’Haram war now a business venture, says Fayose

The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has alleged that some persons are using the war against Boko Haram to loot the treasury.

He noted that the fight against insurgency had become a business because those benefiting from Internally Displaced Persons scams and payment of ransom (in dollars) to free those abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents, among others, would never wish to see the end of the insurgency.

The governor described the alleged withdrawal of the military from Dapchi a few days before the 110 pupils were abducted as a major pointer to possible conspiracy.

He wondered why no one had been questioned despite conflicting claims by the army and the police.

In a statement on Wednesday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Fayose said the withdrawal of $1bn from the Excess Crude Account by the Federal Government was to fleece the country.

Fayose said, “Painfully, it appears we will have to live with Boko Haram for a very long time because waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to save Nigerians is a waste of time.

“They boasted that Boko Haram will be defeated within three months; it is now more than 30 months. All that they have told Nigerians is grammar – Boko Haram technically defeated, Boko Haram completely defeated and now Boko Haram completely degraded.”

“As long as the fight against Boko Haram remains a business venture, providing cheap money for top officials of this government, the insurgency will continue.

“President Buhari must, therefore, look inwards and purge his government of those benefitting from the insurgency if indeed he desires that it should end.”

‘It’s sad Dapchi schoolgirls are abducted’

The wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, has said it is unbelievable that after the public outcry against the abduction of Chibok girls, more pupils were still abducted.

She noted that the abduction of 110 Dapchi schoolgirls was sad, urging the authorities to rescue them.

Saraki, who is also the founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, spoke on Wednesday after a visit by her organisation to the Kwara State House of Assembly.

She said, “No one will believe that we will still see another abduction of schoolgirls again after all the sufferings, tears, lamentation and efforts taken to rescue some of the Chibok girls. It is very hard to describe how I feel as a woman and mother about the development.

“I want to ask every Nigerian to be vigilant. If you notice that there are strange faces in your community that were not there before, or somebody buying more food than they buy normally, please contact the security authorities. The sooner we can rescue them, the better for the humanity.”

Also, a former member of the House of Representatives from Kwara State, Mr. Kola Shitu, and the President of One Adult, One Youth Advocacy Group, Chief Lilian Ogbole, have urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts for the safe rescue of the Dapchi pupils.

Shittu spoke during the fidau prayer of his late 96-year-old mother in the Offa Local Government Area of Kwara State.

 Shittu said, “Security agencies should increase their efforts to ensure that these girls are found and we are praying that God will support our military so that the girls will be found.”

Ogbole, who spoke during a rally by her group, said she was not satisfied with the current efforts to rescue the missing girls.

She appealed to FG and security agencies to intensify efforts and ensure that all the girls were rescued unharmed.

B’Haram not yet defeated –PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party, Rivers State branch, has said the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls is an indication that Boko Haram has not been defeated.

It stated that contrary to the claim by the Federal Government that the terrorist group had been decimated, members of the sect were still strong in the country.

The Rivers State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, explained that with the incident in Yobe, President Muhammadu Buhari had failed in his pledge to protect Nigerians.

Nwanosike spoke on Wednesday shortly after a pro-PDP group in Rivers State – Grassroots Development Initiative – received hundreds of defectors from the All Progressives Congress in the Ikwerre Local Government Area.

He said, “The kidnap of the Dapchi girls is a proof that the FG has failed Nigerians. This is a government that came out to tell the whole public that Boko Haram had been defeated. Then who are these people that abducted these girls? It means they government has failed.

 “It (kidnap of Dapchi girls) shows that the government of President Buhari has failed in the promise they made to Nigerians that they would conquer and completely destroy Boko Haram and any other organisation that portends danger to the lives of Nigerians,” Nwanosike added.

IG accuses govs of arming ‘security outfits’

The Inspector-General of Police,   Ibrahim Idris, on Wednesday in Kaduna accused state governments of arming illegal security outfits with pump action and AK-47 riffles, warning that such would no longer be tolerated.

Idris, who stated this at the Northern States Stakeholders Security Summit, also disclosed that  over 50 AK-47 rifles, 20 English pistols, Two SMG rifles, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered from criminals across the country.

He noted that the recovery raised serious concern about the number of illegal arms and ammunition at the disposal of criminals.

The IGP directed all Commissioners of Police in the state commands and their supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police to ensure the mop-up of illegally acquired arms and ammunition in the country.

The IG gave a 21-day ultimatum to persons in possession of illegally acquired firearms to submit them.

He said, “The police do not have power to issue licence for pump action guns and other lethal weapons under the Firearms Act.

“Anybody that is holding a pump action gun on the grounds that he has a licence from the police is committing a crime.”

Don’t be fear anybody, FG tells Dapchi committee

The National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (retd.), on Wednesday inaugurated a 12-man committee to investigate the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls.

The NSA told the committee members, headed by Rear Admiral Victor Adedipe, that they must not be “suppressed by any individual, group, organisation or agency because we are not going to allow anybody to cover up anything in this matter.”

Monguno said the committee had only two weeks to submit its report.

He said, “The terms of reference of the committee are to determine the circumstances surrounding the abduction of February 19; determine the exact number of persons abducted and their identities; confirm the presence, composition, scale and disposition of security in place in Dapchi and the school itself before the incident. Another one is to ascertain the existing communication in the Dapchi and its functionality.

“Also, suggest measures that can lead to the location and immediate rescue of the abducted girls.’

Schoolgirls who escaped from B’Haram recount ordeal

Some of the schoolgirls that escaped being kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents during the attack on Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, have recounted their ordeal.

The school located in the Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State was attacked on February 19, 2018. The search for the 110 girls that could not be found is on.

The pupils said the insurgents wore military camouflage without boots, adding that they drove three trucks painted in army colour and parked outside the school gate.

One of the pupils that escaped, Ajara Lawal, a 14-year-old SS2 pupil, told The Cable that when the terrorists arrived, the pupils thought that the gunshots from them was an explosion from a nearby transformer.

She said, “When the sound continued, all of us moved towards the school gate. When we got to the gate, we saw some people in soldiers’ uniform; but they didn’t look like soldiers, and then we ran back. Our principal was crying; she told us that we were not safe and that we should run towards the bush.

 “They wore soldiers’ uniform and they said, ‘Come, come, we are here to rescue you.’ As I tried to get into the car, my elder sister called me and said, ‘Don’t you see that is Allahu Akbar is written on their vehicle?’ That was how I ran.”

Amina Mohamadu, a 16-year-old SS2 pupil, said she had just had her dinner when “we heard shootings. We all came out, but the principal told us to start running.”

She said, “They deceived us. They came with three vans in army colours, but they didn’t have army boots; that was how some of us identified them – through their slippers and their military trouser which did not reach the ground.”

Mohamadu, according to her father, a civil servant in Damaturu, was still traumatised as “she often jerks in her sleep.”

The girl said, “I slept in the bush that night. One of my friends was bitten by a snake. Some ran into houses. The next day, the local government area chairmen of Babangida and Dapchi took us back to our parents.

 “I cannot return to that school because they told us that they (Boko Haram members) were coming again.”

Another 14-year-old pupil in SSS2, Yagana Mustapha, said, “We ran to the gate. They (Boko Haram) lied, saying Boko Haram is attacking the village; that they wanted to help us.

“I saw their car. They wrote Allahu Akbar on it. That was why I did not get into it.”

Yagana said she would be willing to go back to another school if the government provided security.

“I will go back to school. But let the government protect us,” she said.

Sadia Sanni, another pupil in SS2 said a teacher helped her to scale the fence.

“Our teachers helped us to scale the fence. I ran to a house near the school,” Sanni said.

Mariam Miko, 15, is the seventh child of 12 children. She said she hoped to be a health technologist so that she could help her community.

She said she was currently discouraged and was not willing to return to school.

Fatima Bilau, the 10th child in a family of 27, said she had at the moment given up on education.
Naija Newspapers
Naija Newspapers

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