Military high command has rubbished speculations that there was no troops presence at Dapchi, Yobe State, when the Boko Haram terrorists returned 105 of the 110 kidnapped students of the Government Girls Science and Technical College (GGSTC), on Wednesday morning. Rather, the insurgents were allowed unhindered access and exit because of a ceasefire agreement.
The military authorities which made the clarification insisted that troops were battle-ready but could not confront or challenge the terrorists because of the deal reached between the government, the military, the negotiators the terrorists and diplomats.
Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major-General Rogers Nicholas, who made the revelation, said the girls were actually released to the military at various locations in the area.
He made the clarification on a live television programme monitored in Abuja.
“As part of the deals to get the girls out… there were alternative efforts. Military efforts were also going while diplomatic efforts were on. At a particular point in the discussion, a truce was reached and a ceasefire was organised so that these girls are not injured and so that these girls are not killed in the military efforts that we are embarking on. And the terrorists having seen the efforts we are making decided that it was time for them to release the girls because the girls were also inconveniencing them.
“And based on the truce that was reached, they requested that we allow them pass through to drop the girls where they picked them.
“It was based on that truce, which is part of all military operations the world over; even that is happening in Syria and other places, there were times that you have ceasefire either to allow relief materials or medicals or exchange of prisoners. That same (method) was adopted here. We had a truce and a ceasefire was organised and then we allowed them to drop the girls where they picked them. That was the situation.
“And we also picked the girls from where they dropped them. While some of the girls went home to meet with their parents before we got to where they are, we were able to pick some of them and were able to get most of them back to the hospital for treatment.”
Gen Nicholas, who noted that the counter-insurgency operations is ongoing, however, pointed out that there is a break for now because of the ceasefire agreement between the government, the negotiators and the diplomatic arrangement.
“There is a time frame for the ceasefire after which our operations will continue. The ceasefire is actually that we put restrictions in some operational area but other operations are ongoing in other areas. The only reason the military operations would not continue is if the terrorists agree to surrender.Otherwise, there is no going back on fight against terrorism.”
Still basking in the euphoria, President Muhammadu Buhari has assured parents of Liya Sharibu and Dapchi community that she will not be abandoned.
Buhari in a statement by one of his media aides, Garba Shehu, said his administration was committed to the freedom of the only Dapchi schoolgirl still in captivity as he was to the girls’ freedom when all 110 were in the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists. The statement read: “The Buhari administration will not relent in efforts to bring Leah Sharibu safely back home to her parents as it has done for the other girls after she was held back by the terrorists over her decision, as reported, not to convert from Christianity to Islam.
“President Buhari is fully conscious of his duty under the constitution to protect all Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic background or geopolitical location and will not shirk in this responsibility.
“The president is equally mindful of the fact that true followers of Islam all over the world respect the injunction that there is no compulsion in religion.
“To this effect, no one or group can impose its religion on another.
“His heart goes out to the isolated parents who must watch others rejoice while their own daughter is still away. The lone Dapchi girl, Leah, will not be abandoned.”
On Wednesday, 105 of the girls were returned to Dapchi by some Boko Haram terrorists.
While five of the girls were said to have died in captivity, Liya Sharibu, the only Christian among them, was detained for allegedly refusing to convert to Islam or wear the hijab.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has dismissed allegation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the abduction and release of the schoolgirls was stage-managed as erroneous and extremely dishonourable.
In a statement issued in Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said such postulation portrayed the PDP “as insensitive, unpatriotic and unworthy party.”
Mohammed said since the release of the Dapchi girls were negotiated by friendly countries and reputable international organisations, it would have taken a conspiracy of global proportion to have stage-managed the adoption and release of the girls.
“As we have said many times since the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls, no government is exempted from its own share of tragedies. What makes the difference is the way such tragedies are managed.
“Whereas it took the PDP all of 18 days to even acknowledge the abduction of the Chibok girls in 2014, the APC Federal Government acted promptly and responsively when the Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted on February 19, hence their quick release,” he said.
The Minister said it was unfortunate that the PDP that failed as a ruling party had also failed as an opposition party “going by its insensitive and crude response to the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls.”
The PDP had taken a swipe at the Presidency alleging that both the abduction and the release of the girls were stage-managed for political purposes
The National Chairman and the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Prince Uche Secondus and Mr Kola Ologbondiyan – had at different news conferences demanded the probe, arrest and prosecution of all those involved in the alleged saga.
Also reacting, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha ascribed the quick release of the girls to display of political will by President Buhari.
Governor Okorocha, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, maintained that Buhari’s commitment to the schoolgirls’ release justifies his strength in dealing with such national challenge.
He noted that since the president came on board, he has continued to match his words with action.
“There is no other way to describe the quick return of the Dapchi Schoolgirls than to say that it was a demonstration of high level of political will and dedicated leadership, because if the reverse had been the case, the story would have been different.
He added that if the previous leadership had also exerted same political will or leadership, the Chibok girls would have perhaps quickly regain their freedom.
Notwithstanding, the apex socio-cultural Igbo organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, described the abduction and release as stage-managed deals.
It said it was the height of serial, inglorious pathological deceit and hoax the country has ever witnessed in the recent time.
In a statement issued in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, by its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, Ohanaeze maintained that the incident wa a “good plan” marred by poor execution, asking rhetorically: “Which paradise on earth were the girls kept so neat for three unfriendly weeks?”
The statement partly read: “The latest drama of the Dapchi Schoolgirls’ release is the height of serial and inglorious pathological deceit and hoax. In their bid to make unfounded and unthinkable comparison (with the regime of Goodluck Jonathan), President Buhari and his hegemonic Fulani cabal become antithetic as they are contradictory.
“Apparently, in a hurried orchestra to display their high dexterity of quick response to the manipulated abduction (as against the snail pace approach of the then Jonathan’s regime), the “good plan” was marred by poor execution.
“Over 100 girls appearing in new and neat dresses with their big bags of different makes. The thought provoking questions are: “Did all the girls dress for a religious or social outing shortly before their abduction? Were they allowed to bring their new clothes on abduction or were they taken to a boutique for their fine “uniforms” before they were brought back?
“For the first time in history, instead of dropping them in an undisclosed point, the abductors brought back their captives amid cheers and jubilation from observers and even security operatives who were said to have been on their trail for three weeks now.
“Which paradise on earth were the girls kept so neat for three unfriendly weeks? So, the government knows the abductors and negotiated with them even as they are still killing Nigerians in tens and hundreds?”
source: The Sun