*48 students ‘ve returned – Yobe Govt
*We’re shocked, disturbed – PDP
*Speak up Ezekwesili tells Buhari
By Chesa Chesa,Chika Otuchikere, Samuel Ogidan and Daniel Tyokua
To forestall further abduction by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in parts of Yobe State, who were feared to have invaded the boarding house and made away with fresh set of secondary school girls, President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday ordered the Nigerian Military and other security agencies to act immediately and restore normalcy.
Specifically, Buhari had ordered the Service Chiefs to move in to the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, where scores of school girls were declared missing since Monday following an attack by Boko Haram insurgents.
The directive came amidst controversy over the actual number of the school girls abducted and also on the number that have returned.
However, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Aso Villa yesterday, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, disclosed that the President had directed him and two other ministers to go to the state today (Thursday) and furnish him with first-hand information on developments.
Other ministers assigned on the trip are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, who is leading the team.
According to the Information Minister: “Mr. President has directed the military and other security agencies to take immediate charge and control of the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, and inform him of the developments”.
When asked to provide the actual number of the school girls missing from the school, Mohammed said “that is precisely why Mr. President is in direct contact with the military and the police and as soon as we get any information we will let you know”.
48 students ‘ve returned – Yobe Govt
Amid the controversy, the Yobe state government has disclosed that 48 of the 94 missing students have returned.
The Yobe State Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, made the claim in a press statement, adding that 28 of the missing students returned on Tuesday night, while 20 others returned on Wednesday morning.
However, one of the teachers in the school said that headcount conducted after the attack revealed that “610 out the total number of 704 students have returned”, but added that “we are still searching for the remaining 94 students”.
According to the teacher, “we cannot say if they have been abducted or not, because the insurgents went into the students’ hostel, but many of these students scaled the fence and escaped into the bush.
“This has brought down the 94 missing students after yesterday’s headcount to 48 this morning. We are still hopeful that more are returning soon”.
Another account said that most of the students were rescued by people from the bushes around Dapchi commuity. All the same, some of these students are still feared to have been abducted as at press time.
On his part, Abdumaliki Sunmonu, the Yobe State Commissioner of Police also said he could not establish if it was a case of abduction or not, but added that security forces have pursued the insurgents to the locations where they were last sighted.
*We are shocked, disturbed – PDP
Reacting to the development, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday expressed shock and charged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to immediately address the development and recover the missing school children.
The party in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the conflicting reports on the whereabouts of the innocent girls were even more disturbing, stressing that “the life, safety and wellbeing of all Nigerians remain of paramount importance to us and we therefore insist that all efforts must be exerted to find these students”.
He said that PDP was monitoring police investigation of the matter, and urged the All Progressives Congress-controlled federal government to live up to the basic responsibility of protecting lives and property in the country.
*Speak up Ezekwesili tells Buhari
Meanwhile, the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Group (BBOG), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, joined the fray to ask President Buhari to speak up on the abduction.
Ezekwesili who wrote on her Twitter handle Wednesday, said that “it was the same conspiracy of silence by the then President Goodluck Jonathan administration that sealed the fate of the abducted Chibok school girls, when that government refused to react for more than two weeks”.
She added: “God forbid that nothing was at all learned in all these years #ChibokGirls on how FG should transparently engage the public on matters like the allegations flying about on Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe State, after a Boko Haram attack.
“God forbid that we are indeed missing daughters who went to school once again. God forbid that anything resembling a reenactment of the torture of the nearly four years of our #ChibokGirls Tragedy has happened to Nigeria, Ah God forbids this evil in our land a second time.
“All one has done is wait on the FG for official statement since late night Monday. Sadly as happened in the #ChibokGirls Tragedy, FG is OMINIOUSLY MUM.
“Let me ask President @Buhari ’s @AsoRock , ‘are you at all aware that it is being alleged that 94 daughters after a Boko Haram attack?”
She continued: “@HQNigeriaArmy, do you have facts on the allegations of abduction of 94 daughters of Nigeria from their Boarding School- Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi Yobe State after a Boko Haram attack? Are you in strong pursuit of their abductors if true?”
She recalled that in a few days it would be four years since the abduction of the school girls from their boarding house in Chibok, Borno State.