Buhari Apologises to Dapchi Parents, Promises to Rescue Abducted Girls

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  • U.S. expresses concern, British military monitoring situation
  • Campbell: Nigeria not transparent about B’ Haram

By Omololu Ogunmade and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Bayo Akinloye in Lagos

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday apologised to the families of the school girls abducted on Monday by Boko Haram at Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, assuring them that that the matter was receiving deserved attention at the highest level.

Also yesterday, the United States of America said it was concerned about the missing Dapchi schoolgirls, while the British military said it was monitoring the event closely.

A statement yesterday by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu quoted the President Buhari as saying: “The entire country stands as one with the girls’ families, the government and the people of Yobe State. This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain. We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members.”

The President said when he received the devastating news of the attack on the school, and the fact that the local authorities could not account for all the students, he immediately dispatched a high-level delegation on a fact-finding visit to the town.

Buhari continued: “I also instructed the security agencies to deploy in full and not spare any effort to ensure that all the girls are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice. Our government is sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep an eye on all movements in the entire territory on a 24-hour basis, in the hope that all the missing girls will be found.”

U.S. expresses concern, British military monitoring situation

Also yesterday, the United States of America said it was concerned about the missing Dapchi schoolgirls.

While addressing journalists at the White House, the Spokesperson of the US Department of State, Ms Heather Nauert, said: “I’d like to bring your attention to Africa and something that took place in Nigeria. We’re still trying to get all the details about that, but I wanted to mention that we condemn in the strongest possible terms the terror attack on a school earlier this week in northeastern Nigeria. The choice of targets, including schools, markets, and places of worship, reflect the brutality of terror organisations.

“The victims in the attack were girls who were simply seeking an education. We want to extend our condolences to the students and to their families affected by these terrorist attacks and are concerned that some of the students are still not accounted for. We continue to support Nigerian efforts to counter the terror groups. We also support Nigerian efforts to enable more than two million displaced in the Lake Chad region to return home safely.”

We Are Monitoring the Event Closely, Says British Military

The British military has also said that it was monitoring the Dapchi abduction saga closely.

The General Advisor, British Advisory and Training Team (Bmatt), Maj. Ian Robertson disclosed this in Abuja at event organised by Partners West Africa Nigeria, with the Theme, “Prioritising the Voices of Women in Security Organisations Using the Second Generation National Action Plan (2017-2020)”.

According to him, “having heard about this particular issue recently and I’m still trying to get more information about what is going on, but it is clearly very disappointing that something like this has happened; that the girls have been taken. Let me reassure you from the British military perspective, we are monitoring the event quite closely and we are cooperating with the armed forces of Nigeria to see how we can assist.”

Asked if the federal government had made enough commitment towards rescuing the girls, he said: “That is very difficult or me to comment on. I don’t really monitor what your government does here; I’m working at a very basic level, trying to ensure that the training that we provide to your soldiers, the armed forces of Nigeria have a gender perspective. I understand the question but I’m not sure I will be able to answer it for you.”

Earlier, the Executive Director, Partners West Africa, Ms. Kemi Okenyodo, said the workshop aimed at facilitating a holistic planning of security sector reform processes in North-east Nigeria, with a view to identifying good practices that could be replicated in other parts of the country by ensuring that citizens get an opportunity for engaging with policy reform processes that would affect them directly or indirectly.

Nigeria not transparent about Boko Haram, ex-US Ambassador, Campbell

A former United States of America’s Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has criticised Nigerian government officials for not being transparent about the activities of Boko Haram.

The ex-envoy, who was accused of predicting that Nigeria would cease to be a nation in 2015, suggested that the terrorist group still had the capacity to operate freely in the country.

Writing on the platform of the Council on Foreign Relations, a US think tank organisation, Campbell said: “The latest Boko Haram kidnapping of female students sheds some light on the terrorist group’s current operational capacity and highlights President Buhari’s direct involvement in the matter.

“While Boko Haram’s kidnapping operation is similar to its infamous kidnapping in 2014 of female students from Chibok, the government’s response has so far been quite different. What this episode also highlights, however, is the ongoing lack of transparency with respect to Boko Haram activities on the part of Nigerian officials.”

Speaking further on the latest kidnapping of schoolgirls, the American diplomat said: “There continues to be too little transparency about the incident. Some police spokesmen and the school’s principal said no girls were kidnapped at all, and the principal said that Boko Haram only stole food until they were chased away by the police. On the other hand, a school roll call accounted for only 815 of 926 students. (The roll call seems to have occurred before the army’s rescue operation.) Several witnesses indicated to media representatives that Nigerian security personnel told them not to talk about the episode.

“More disturbing is Boko Haram’s use of armored vehicles, its access to uniforms, and its ability to carry out mass kidnappings. The operation appears more sophisticated than the suicide bombings that continue to be a feature of the group. Dapchi is yet another sign that Boko Haram is far from defeated. As for the three hundred Chibok schoolgirls, about one hundred still remain in captivity.”