Government releases details of missing girls, begins probe

The Federal Government has set up a 12-member committee to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of 110 pupils of the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe State, as it released the names and details of the girls.The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, made this known in a statement in Abuja yesterday.

The committee, convened by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), will be chaired by a military officer of the rank of major general.

It will comprise one senior provost each from the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force; representatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA); Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA); Nigeria Police Force (NPF); Department of State Service (DSS); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); two representatives of the Yobe State government and a representative of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The terms of reference of the committee include ascertaining the circumstances surrounding the abduction, confirming the presence, composition, scale and disposition of security emplaced in Dapchi and at GGSTC before the incident, and suggesting measures that could lead to the location and rescue of the girls.

The committee, expected to submit its report by March 15, 2018, will also recommend measures to prevent future occurrence, and will be inaugurated tomorrow.

Of the missing girls, eight are in JSS1; 17 in JSS2; 12 in JSS3; 40 in SS1; 19 in SS2; and 14 in SS3. Their ages range from 11 to 19 years.

The list, which also contains the contact address and phone number of each girl, was verified by a 26-member screening committee that included the Executive Secretary, State Teaching Service Board, Musa Abdulsalam; Director, Schools’ Management, Ministry of Education, Shuaibu Bulama; Principal of GGSTC, Adama Abdulkarim; the two Vice Principals, Ali Musa Mabu and Abdullahi Sule Lampo; Admission Officer, Bashir Ali Yerima, and the Form Masters for all the classes.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, summoned all service chiefs to brief on the state of security in the country. It set up an ad hoc committee to visit Dapchi and investigate the abduction, and also urged the Federal Government to mobilise security agencies for a speedy rescue of the abducted girls.

This came as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday relocated to Yobe State to personally oversee the search for the girls. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) had earlier deployed more platforms to the North East for the operation.

Goni Bukar Lawan (APC, Yobe) raised the girls’ matter during a plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Recalling the 2014 murder of 58 students of the College of Agriculture, Buni Yadi, Yobe State, he regretted the absence of security operatives in Dapchi on the day of the abduction.

In a statement, Dogara said rather than trading blame over the incident, security agencies should strengthen collaboration towards rescuing the girls.

He said: “Statements credited to the army and the police in which they tried to exonerate themselves from any culpability in the unfortunate and embarrassing abduction is highly condemnable.

“This is unacceptable and the House of Representatives, and indeed Nigerians, will hold the security agencies responsible. They all bear responsibility for this unfortunate incident.

“The traumatic experience of the Chibok abduction, which is still fresh in our minds, should have served as a warning signal to security agencies to provide adequate protection to all schools in the North East.”

He condoled with the parents of the girls and urged Nigerians to pray for their safe return.

And displeased with the Federal Government’s response to the incident, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to visit Dapchi to get first-hand information on the matter.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the party said it was disheartening that while the parents of the abducted girls were wailing and the insurgents were fleeing farther, Buhari and leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were feasting at the Presidential Villa and plotting their 2019 re-election campaign.

“Nigerians are worried that the president has allowed himself to be holed in the safety and luxury of the Villa, while citizens are being slaughtered and taken captive by marauders and insurgents.

“Nigerians are shocked that the presidential mandate of protecting lives has been reduced to a cosmetic dispatching of ministers and persons with no knowledge of security, including those known to be falsifying performance indices, on mere fact-finding missions, while the machinery for proactive security measures are left unattended,” the party said.

It concluded: “This administration is completely insensitive to the plight of the people and it is not a surprise that the majority of Nigerians are more than prepared to reject them at the polls come 2019.”The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), on its part, called on the Federal Government to review its security architecture, also describing the blame game in the aftermath of the abduction as unnecessary.

“All hands should be on deck to ensure that the girls are rescued. Stories that they were ferried across our border or to some locations in Nigeria, should not be ignored,” the apex northern sociopolitical group noted.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Ibrahim, the ACF said: “This ugly incident, similar to the abduction of the Chibok girls barely four years ago, is wicked and callous. We share the pain and trauma the parents, government and people of Yobe State and indeed Nigerians are going through and pray for their safe rescue and return to their parents soon.”

Besides, amid the growing concern over the abduction, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud, urged the Federal Government to review the security situation of every school in the North East. He made the disclosure at a valedictory session in honour of a retiring justice of the Supreme Court, Clara Ogunbiyi.

The wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, and wife of the Osun State governor, Alhaja Sherifat Aregbesola, also prayed for the quick rescue of the girls at the opening of a two-day conference of the Osun Officials’ Wives Association, yesterday.