President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep concern over the reported abduction of students of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, describing it as a national disaster.
In a statement by his senior special assistant on media, Garba Shehu, the president empathised with the families of the students and assured them that his administration will do everything within its power to bring succour to them.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that suspected Boko Haram insurgents had attacked the school on Monday after which 94 of the schoolgirls were declared missing, with some of them suspected to have been
abducted by the insurgents.
Confusion has trailed the fate of the schoolgirls as the initial cheering report that soldiers had rescued 48 of the girls has been refuted by the state government. The president has, however, reassured the affected families that the nation was with them in their ordeal and that his government was making strenuous effort to return the girls to their families.
Buhari said, “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 we
share your pain. We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members.
“When I received the devastating news of the attack on the school and the fact that the local authorities could not account for all the students, I immediately dispatched a high-level delegation on a fact-finding visit to the town.
“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.”
The president disclosed that his administration was sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep a round the- clock watch on all movements in the affected area in the hope of finding and
rescuing all the missing girls.
Presidency Should Be Held Responsible For Abduction – PDP
Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday
blamed the presidency for the abduction of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, and several other atrocities committed by insurgents against citizens, particularly in the northern part of the country.
The party said that the presidency hadput Nigerians at risk by issuing false performance indices, suggesting that insurgents had been completely decimated, a situation that made unsuspecting citizens believe in the falsehood and move about freely in the face of real threats and danger.
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Olagbondiyan, added that if the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government “had not dished out lies to the people in a bid to score cheap political points for its ill-lucked 2019 re-election bid, more precautionary measures would have been adopted by the affected communities to ensure adequate protection.
“While Nigerians are appalled by APC’s recourse to false indices in
critical sectors, it is, however, to say the least, an inexcusable height of wickedness to give a vulnerable people a false assurance of security when they are actually in danger.
“Furthermore, the PDP decries as iniquitous the efforts by APC-controlled federal authorities to suppress information on the abduction, leading to conflicting reports and frustrating of rescue mission, just because they seek to hide the failures of the presidency in ensuring the safety of Nigerians, particularly in the north.”
The PDP chided the authorities for earlier informing Nigerians that some of the girls had been recovered only for the news to turn out to be false.
“It is painful that Nigerians are faced today with a government that has been heavy on propaganda and issuing of false statistics, while playing down on several atrocities committed against defenceless
He said such misinformation was not the practice during the years of PDP administration.
“Under the PDP, Nigerians were never told lies on the true situation of the state of affairs in all sectors, particularly security. The PDP-led government constantly briefed Nigerians and carried all stakeholders along in our concerted effort in securing lives and property in
“Nigerians and indeed the world must hold the Buhari Presidency and the APC led federal government directly responsible for the abduction of these defenceless schoolgirls as well as the killings in our country today.
“While the PDP stands with the parents of the abducted girls at this moment of their harrowing pains and prays for their speedy return, we implore our security forces to insulate themselves from APC
propaganda, take very decisive professional steps to recover our girls and end the killings in our country,” it stated.
Army Denies Shielding Shekau In Sambisa
The Nigeran Army has denied reports in some mainstream and social media platforms that troops involved in the ongoing Operation Deep Punch ll were deliberately halted to create room for the escape of the factional leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, in Sambisa
Describing the reports as untrue in a statement issued to journalists in Maiduguri, Borno State, the deputy director, Public Relations, Theatre Command of Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the Command was seriously taken aback by this phoney publication and considers it a psychological
warfare on the troops.
Nwachukwu said: “The attention of Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole, has been drawn to unfortunate mainstream and social media reports and insinuations that troops advance at the ongoing Operation Deep Punch II was deliberately halted to allow the escape
of the purported factionalBoko Haram terrorists’ group leader, Abubakar Shekau in Sambisa Forest.
This is not true.
“Though the Theatre Command considers this misinformation as very
laughable, it is quite disheartening and capable of dampening the morale of troops who are working round the clock to fight the terrorists in north-eastern Nigeria. It is therefore expedient to respond to these insinuations.
“Contrary to these mischievous allegations, no such order or directive
was given by anybody to any of the units and formations on that operation. This spurious allegation is most unfortunate and a wake up call for the public to be very wary of agents of destabilisation
that are determined to thwart our efforts of clearing the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists hibernating in nooks and crannies of Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad islands.”
The statement further told the authors of this misinformation that for a better understanding of military operations, it is crucial to point out that there are several factors that influence the planning and conduct of military operations, whether kinetic or otherwise.
He noted that the ongoing Operation Deep Punch II, which is aimed at clearing Boko Haram insurgents from the Sambisa Forest and the northern fringes of the Lake Chad region, was planned to be executed in phases.
“It is a phased operation and therefore requires that at a predetermined points or stages, troops will be halted either
preparatory to transiting to another phase or outrightly transiting, depending on the threat situation.
“Secondly, during the operations, troops advance could be halted when vehicles or other mobile equipment are bogged down due to the difficulty of the terrain and for recovery purposes. More also and very importantly too, in military operations, avenues are deliberately
provided for troops to habour, where they rest and carry out refitting of weapons and other equipment before resuming the
Nwachukwu further explained that booby traps and land mines could also compel advancing troops to stop to enable some specialised squads and scouts to assess the situation before movement
“These and several other factors could precipitate the halting of troops during operations,” he said.
“It is therefore very appalling and unimaginable that a fundamental
operational procedure could be misinterpreted and be mischievously used as a psychological weapon to indirectly dampen the morale of our troops.
He, therefore, urged members of the public to ignore the misinformation, saying, “it does not reflect the strong character
and courageous disposition of troops of Operation Lafiya Dole.”