Nigeria: Over 50 schoolgirls missing after fresh Boko Haram attack
—As Saraki condemns attack
By RAZAQ BAMIDELE/ADETOKUNBO FAKEYE
London, Feb. 21, 2018 (AltAfrika)-More than 50 schoolgirls are still missing following a fresh Boko Haram attack in Yobe State in the north-east axis of Nigeria according to an official statement Wednesday night.
The attack took place late Monday at a girls-only government secondary school in Dapchi town, with about 98 girls initially suspected to have been taken away by the militants.
“Out of the 926 students in the school, over 50 are still unaccounted for as of the time of this statement. However, the Yobe State Government has continued to receive information about some of the girls being found in the general area to which they escaped,” government spokesperson, Abdullahi Bego said in a statement.
“The State Government is coordinating with the army and law enforcement agents to ensure that those girls are returned safely. The Yobe State Government has no credible information yet as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists,” he added.
Police Chief in the area, Abdulmaliki Sumonu, told our correspondent that headcounts from the school showed that over 40 of the girls were still missing after hundreds of them had returned to the school after initially fleeing in the wake of the attack.
“We appeal for calm. The school said many of the girls have been returning while authorities continue to contact parents to know if their wards have come home. As at this morning, more than 30 returned to school and many more are still thought to be lost in bushes around,” Sumonu further informed.
President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement Wednesday night, ordered his Defense Minister to relocate to the area to coordinate the search for the girls along with the security chiefs.
“I have directed the military and police to mobilize immediately to ensure that all the missing girls are found. The Minister of Defense will also lead a government delegation to Yobe tomorrow (Thursday) to ascertain the situation,” he added.
The development mirrors Boko Haram abduction of some 276 girls from neighbouring Borno state in 2014. At least 113 of the girls still remain in captivity.
But a top security source told our correspondent that some of the Dapcha schoolgirls taken by the militants have now been rescued by the military, but the army was yet to react to the development as at Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, President of the Nigeria Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday, condemned in strong terms the attack on Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi, in Yobe State by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.
Saraki in statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, described the attack as one too many even as he urged the security agencies to get to the root of the matter, bring the perpetrators to book and ensure that all students of the school are properly accounted for.
He called on security agencies to reinforce security around academic institutions in the country in order to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of such soft targets to disrupt academic activities and wreck havoc at a time the Federal Government is working assiduously to end the incidents of terror in the Northeast and other flash points in the country.
He also urged the security agencies to be proactive in protecting lives and property in the country and also ensuring that accurate information about attacks such as the one recently witnessed in Dapchi, Yobe State, is promptly made available to members of the public to prevent unnecessary speculation and panic by family members of victims and citizens alike.
He expressed sympathy with the affected students, parents, school authorities and the government and people of Yobe State over the unfortunate incident