Mohammed insisted in the Federal Government's position that the terrorist group is in its "dying days".
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, has disclosed that Boko Haram’s attack on Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School, Dapchi, Yobe, which has led to the disappearance of an undetermined number of schoolgirls, is an attempt to embarrass President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
The minister made his remarks when he visited Yobe State on Thursday, February 22, 2018, to get a first hand account of the attack that happened earlier this week.
The militant group had invaded the school in Dapchi town in Bursari local government area of the state on Monday, February 19, and made away with loads of food items from the school, sending students and staff running into the bushes for safety.
While addressing reporters at the school on Thursday, Mohammed insisted in the Federal Government’s position that the terrorist group is in its “dying days” and is merely lashing out with its attacks after getting pushed out of its primary base in Sambisa Forest.
He said, “We are still monitoring the situation and what I want people to understand is that since two days ago some of the students who fled to neighbouring towns and communities had returned and more have been returning.
“When we arrived here we have been briefed by the governor and the GOC about the situation of the students.
“We know there are few students who are yet accounted for, but we don’t want to manufacture stories on this issue. But give us few days, we will be able to tell you exactly the real situation of things.
“But you can see response of the military, the response of the state government is quite commendable. Since four days now we have been following the efforts being made to arrest the situation.
“But we must understand that these are they dying days of the Boko Haram and what they intend to do is to embarrass the government because they have been degraded, they have been pushed out of Sambisa forest.
“They have been starved out of oxygen and the oxygen they feed on is publicity so that they can grab the world’s attention. But I can assure you that with the determination of our gallant military, the days of Boko Haram are numbered.”
Conflicting reports of number of missing girls
A head count of the students on Tuesday, February 20, had revealed that at least 94 schoolgirls were missing.
However, there were conflicting reports by the Commissioner of Police, Abdulmaliki Sumonu, who said 111 girls were unaccounted for, while the state government claimed later on Wednesday, February 21, that only over 50 were missing.
On Wednesday evening, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam‘s spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, said “some of the girls… have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.
“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.”
Dapchi residents stone Governor Gaidam for lying
When Governor Gaidam visited the community on Thursday, February 22, he made a dramatic turnaround and said none of the missing students have been rescued by the army. He told family members of the students to keep praying that the girls should be found.
He had addressed concerned parents at the palace of the district head in Dapchi town saying there’s no confirmation the girls have been abducted by terrorists.
He said, “Until now, we have no certainly that these boys (Boko haram) have taken these girls. We should keep praying so that God reveal the whereabouts of the girls.
“We directed the soldiers and security personnel to go anywhere the girls are said to have been seen and find them.
“I am together with the GOC, Brig-Gen Garba. His men went to places that the girls were said to have been sighted but, for the past two days, wherever the troops go, they were only told that it was a convoy of Boko haram passing through the villages but they didn’t see any girls.”
Angered residents showed their displeasure by booing the governor and throwing stones at his convoy of vehicles, destroying seven of them with shattered rear windscreen and banged up body parts.
Some of the governor’s aides, other government officials, as well as a cameraman were reportedly injured from the attack as the governor’s security team dispersed the crowd with tear gas.
A journalist in the convoy told The Punch, “We were in fear as the residents continued to throw stones to protest against government’s handling of the girls’ abduction.
“The angry residents ignored the tear gas as they vandalised seven vehicles in our convoy.
“From the little information that we got, they were angry that the Yobe State Government deceived Nigerians that the schoolgirls had been rescued when nobody was rescued.
“Some of them told the governor to present the girls that were rescued.”
The governor left the town immediately after the incident.
Attack on all-girls school
According to accounts by residents, the terrorists invaded the town around 7pm in over 18 gun trucks mounted with high caliber weapons.
Their loud shooting alerted residents, school students and staff who ran to seek cover in the surrounding bushes as the school’s food store was successfully raided.
Troops of the Nigerian Army later arrived to repel the attack, aided by military jets.
A school source told ThisDay that the militants targeted the students as they went into their hostel during the attack.
It is unknown whether the girls are missing as a result of abduction by Boko Haram or have simply failed to return after fleeing from the attack, with some reported to have arrived at their homes safely.
The school has been closed down for a week pending investigations.
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