Exactly 30 days after the Boko Haram insurgents abducted some schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, the group in a dramatic fashion returned them to their parents. HUSSAINI JIRGI in Damaturu reports
At exactly 7:24pm Wednesday March 21 2018, 30 days after some suspected Boko Haram insurgents abducted 110 schoolgirls of Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi, Yobe state, there was uproar in Dapchi town. At first people did not understand what was happening, there was confusion, then the news broke, the insurgents have returned unhurt, the girls they abducted!
These ‘benevolent’ insurgents who abducted the girls without killing anyone or destroying the school property, also returned them freely without a scratch or ransom paid on the girls.
This is a complete opposite of what happened to the unfortunate Chibok girls, some of whom are still in captivity almost four years after their abduction.
The question now is ‘what was the mission of the abductors? Villagers told LEADERSHIP WEEKEND that when the insurgents came for the abduction, they didn’t really know their way.
According to the story, at about 7.23pm on Monday February 19 2018, a band of insurgents arrived at the checkpoint before the bridge leading to the town and started shooting sporadically from different directions. They made their way into the town looking for the location of the girls’ school.
Sources from the town confirmed that, the attackers did not kill anyone, suggesting that, their mission was not to kill. It was reported that about 24 members of the insurgents roamed around the town until they got someone they forced to direct them to the school.
Eyewitnesses reported that the insurgents were in military camouflage but were wearing slippers instead of military boots. They stormed the school, hastily persuading the girls to enter their Tata buses so as to escape from Boko Haram that they told the girls were coming.
After abducting the girls, the insurgents were said to have driven them away into the bush undisturbed by any security agent as they had time to repair their broken down vehicle and even observe their prayers at Gumsa village before continuing with their journey.
Irked by the abduction, which was reminiscent of what happened in 2014 at Chibok in Borno state where Boko Haram insurgents abducted over 200 schoolgirls, the President Mohammadu Buhari in his effort to ensure timely rescue of the girls, inaugurated a 12-man committee to investigate the events that led to the abduction of the schoolgirls and followed up with a visit to Dapchi to console and reassure the parents of the girls that government will do everything possible to ensure the early release of their children.
During the visit, the President vowed that the insurgents would pay dearly for the abduction of the schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014 and now Dapchi, promising that his government will not spare Boko Haram. According to the President, “We will use our military might to crush them and provide a lasting peace in the country.”
Just seven days later, the girls were released unconditionally and without ransom.
Dapchi residents who witnessed the return of the girls recount that the insurgents brought 104 of the girls, spent 30 minutes preaching and later handed over the girls to their parents in front of a large crowd.
Some of the resident said hours before the terror group appeared in the area, they first dropped off one of the girls in a nearby village and then drove into the center of Dapchi town where they dropped off the rest of the girls.
According to one of the residents, “The Boko Haram Sect, gathered the schoolgirls in one place and held a brief preaching session in the town, they asked them to return to the path of Allah and stop pursuit of Western education. They also said that they released them because they wanted to give them another chance of returned to Allah.
Hundreds of people including parents of the girls gathered at the scene waiting to catch a glimpse of the girls who were surrounded by solders. Soldiers prevented journalists from getting into the town in fact they were kept two kilometers away from the city centre.
Fatima Abdullahi, one of the released schoolgirls said they drove four days before reached their hometown. Though happy to have returned home, Fatima said, “I am not happy because we left one of our friends there. They did not release her because she refused to denounce her faith; she is a Christian and refused to accept to convert to Islam.”
Speaking to journalists, mother of the girl that refused to accept Islam, Mrs. Rebecca Shurubu, appealed to the President to get the insurgents to release her innocent daughter for the sake of God.