Nigeria:Army releases Dapchi girls to FG as opposition party accuses govt of staging kidnap
The Nigerian Army on Wednesday handed 106 released girls from Boko Haram captivity to Federal Government just as the Nigeria’s main opposition party PDP, accused the government of staging the abduction and eventual release of the Dapchi schoolgirls to score political points.
The girls were kidnapped from Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, on 19 February, in a raid President Muhammadu Buhari described as a “national disaster.”
The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, presented the released girls to the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the 105 Air Force Composite Command, Maiduguri.
Nicholas explained that 104 girls were part of the 110 abducted from Government Science and Technical School, Dapchi.
He said the two other girls, who were not pupils of the school, were rescued from the insurgents by troops.
The theatre commander added that the rescued girls were brought from Dapchi to Maiduguri together with their parents and guardians.
The minister of information said the Federal Government adopted proactive measures to secure the release of the remaining girls and persons under insurgents’ captivity.
The girls’ handover was attended by Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Khadija Bukar-Abba and Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The released girls, alongside their parents and some aid workers, boarded a Nigerian Air Force aircraft en route Abuja at about 18.50 p.m.
But the PDP said there was no abduction. It also accused the government of using “innocent schoolgirls as pawns in an ignoble script that was designed to hoodwink Nigerians and orchestrate a great rescue and security prowess of a conquering general.”
Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed said in Maiduguri it was easier for the government to secure the girls’ freedom because their abductors violated the terms of a ceasefire deal reached by the insurgents and the government.
“What happened was that the abduction itself was a breach of the ceasefire talks between the insurgents and the government, hence it became a moral burden on the abductors. Any report that we paid ransom or engaged in prisoner swap is false,” he said.
Mohammed, however, did not state when the ceasefire agreement was reached.
Meanwhile, the opposition party, under whose regime over 200 girls were kidnapped from the dormitories in Chibok on April 14, 2014, insisted that there was no evidence that the girls were abducted by Boko Haram. It also blamed the government for allegedly withdrawing troops and “and all security apparati (sic) at checkpoints and flashpoints in the Dapchi area” shortly before the girls were taken away.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International claimed a statement that the Nigerian military was warned about the presence of the insurgent around Dapchi, but the warnings were ignored, it said.
“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public — and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes,” said Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osa Ojigho.
“Why were insufficient troops available? Why was it decided to withdraw troops? What measures have the government taken to protect schools in northeast Nigeria?
“And what procedures are supposed to be followed in response to an attempted abduction?”