By Kwiza Mbumbeh, Maiduguri
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assured parents, Nigerians and the international community that the 110 abducted Dapchi schools girls are brought back safely to their families within the powers of federal government.
Buhari gave the assurance when addressing parents of abducted girls, traditional and religious leaders and stakeholders in
a town hall meeting at Government House, Damaturu.
“I am here in Yobe State today (Wednesday), to express my sincere sympathies with the parents, families, the Government and the entire people of Yobe State whose daughters were callously abducted by unrepentant terrorists,” said Buhari.
It would be recalled that on February 19, 2018, we woke up to the painful news of the abduction of One 110 students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi.
He said since then he had not left any stone upturned in making sure that the girls are rescued.
Speaking further, he said, “I have ordered the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take direct charge and brief me on a daily basis on the efforts to bring back the girls.
“Within four days of the incident, the Minister of Information visited Dapchi and the next day, the Minister of Interior who was accompanied by the Minister of Information re-visited the school for on the spot assessment, before rescuing the girls.
He said the Joint Operational Base involving relevant agencies to coordinate the rescue exercise has already been strengthened.
He added that the service commanders have not only established a unified command centre in Maiduguri, but the military has raised several rescue teams.
The rescue team, according to him, are to comb the forests in the North East Theatre of Operation.
Even the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), he added, has maintained aerial surveillance of the area, since the girls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from their College.
He further disclosed that parents of the abductees have been reassured of measures the Federal Government is taking, particularly on the spot assessment of the incident.
Some of the measures, according to the President, include a 12-member Committee to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the students.
He also warned: “Any agency, person or group found to have been negligent or culpable in the abduction of the girls will be punished in accordance with the law.”
Buhari reiterated that, “Terrorists had made life very unbearable for the people in Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Borno, Niger, and
even the FCT, Abuja.
“Our Mosques and Churches witnessed daily suicide bomb attacks. Parts of Adamawa and Borno States were helplessly ceded to the terrorists, after reclaiming several council areas by the military in 2016 and 2017.
“But today, we have so far shown clear determination in tackling terrorism which is a world -wide phenomenon.”
He said various strategies had been explored by the military and security agencies, including regional and international collaborations to exterminate terror in the country.
According to him, the Armed Forces, security and intelligence services, were also re-equipped to fight insurgency and other criminal activities.
He said the troops are empowered with improved welfare and better equipment with increased performances of the military and other security agencies.
He said due to the commitment of government, over 100 Chibok girls have been rescued and reunited with their families, including sending them back to school and empowered with requisite skills.
Speaking on recent rescue missions, Buhari said: “Our negotiation efforts led to the release of abducted University of Maiduguri
lecturers, some women Police personnel, students and even an NYSC member.
“I have asked that appropriate Federal Government authorities be in constant touch with the Yobe State Government and other neighbouring States to ensure a common strategy and line of action.
There will be no rest till the last girl, whether from Chibok and Dapchi, is released. The girls, like all our citizens, must enjoy
unhindered freedom and pursue their legitimate aspirations.”
The Government, under my watch, will continue to maintain normalcy and ensure that incidents of this nature are stopped. Be assured that measures are being put in place to achieve these objectives.
Responding, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam and the Emir of Fika and Chairman, Yobe State Council of Chiefs, Dr. Muhammad Ibn Abali Muhammad Idrissa thanked the federal government for its pledge to rescue the abducted girls.
At Dapchi, after the President sympathized with parents and guardians, Chairman of Parents Teachers Association, Bashir Manzo insisted that the schoolgirls are rescued and returned to their families safely.
“We are already traumatized since our daughters had been abducted by Boko Haram. Some of us are considering withdrawing our daughters from other school, as the safety of our children may not be guaranteed,” Manzo lamented.