The Federal Government has confirmed that 110 students of the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, remain unaccounted for, after a suspected Boko Haram faction invaded their school last week.The disclosure came as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) announced it had deployed additional air assets, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, to the North East amid ongoing efforts to locate the girls.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced the figure yesterday in Damaturu after a meeting between a Federal Government delegation and representatives of key stakeholders, including the state government, the college, parents, security agencies and Bursari Local Government, where Dapchi is located.He said based on briefings from the Principal of the college, Hajia Adama Abdulkarim, and the state Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, 906 students were in the school on the day of the attack.
Mohammed 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.He said the Federal Government had stepped up efforts to rescue the girls and that security agencies were working on several leads regarding their whereabouts.
On his part, the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), noted that the delegation embarked on the trip to get the facts right. “According to a statement by NAF spokesman Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya in Abuja, yesterday: “The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, directed the immediate deployment of additional air assets and NAF personnel to the North East, with the sole mission of conducting day and night searches for the missing girls.
“It is noteworthy that the renewed efforts are being conducted in close liaison with other surface security forces. While the NAF will spare no efforts at possibly locating the girls via its air operations, it also seizes this opportunity to call on anyone, especially the locals, who might have any information that could lead to the location of the girls to bring such forward to NAF authorities or other relevant security agencies.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, insisted the All Progressives Congress (APC) has questions to answer over alleged security lapses in the area and misleading reports that hampered the immediate rescue of the girls.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Nigerians have been in shock over revelations by the Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, that the abduction was preceded by a withdrawal of troops around Dapchi, thereby rendering the area defenceless and paving the way for the insurgents to attack and abduct our girls.”He asked: “What alternative security measures were put in place to protect the people after the troops were withdrawn? Who controls security intelligence gathering and consequential protection action and what action was taken to guarantee adequate security in the area?”
He added: “It is on this note that we call on our security agencies to stand up to the challenge and do their professional best to ensure the safe return of our girls. The PDP stands in prayers with the parents of our girls, the entire Dapchi community and all victims of mindless atrocities against Nigerians under the incompetent and deceptive APC-led Federal Government, even as we collectively seek solution at this trying time.”
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) expressed sadness over the abduction.The Spokesman for the northern chapter, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, told journalists in Kaduna: “CAN is deeply concerned about this development, coming while we are yet to find all the Chibok girls. Now, another set of schoolgirls has been kidnapped.”He said: “Nigeria’s security agencies must not play the propaganda game anymore. They should go after the criminals that have abducted these girls. They should take serious action and stop making a noise and confusing people.
“This particular abduction is a challenge to government to prove to Nigerians that the huge spending on security is not a waste. When we hear and read stories that billion of dollars is expended for security and we still have issues like this, then it tells us that there is a serious problem in the country.”CAN sympathised with the families of the girls, Dapchi community and the government of Yobe State, saying: “We are praying for the government to do what is right, this time, to get the girls rescued from the hands of the criminals.”
The opposition Action Democratic Party (ADP), meanwhile, criticised the APC for going ahead with its unification rally in Akure, Ondo State, at a time Nigerians were in pains over the abduction.The rally, held to mark one year in office of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, was attended by party chieftains including National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun.
“This is the same blunder the PDP committed in 2014, when at a few days after the Chibok abduction, they went to Kano to hold a similar rally, which was condemned by the APC,” it said in a statement by National Chairman, Yabagi Sani.“Let the APC and its government be serious and open. This is a national challenge that all of us must work to resolve. If they continue to pretend and lie that all is well, dancing at rallies, consumed by the 2019 passion, they may as well be the disaster that has befallen our nation at this time,” he said.