Security agents responsible for Dapchi girls’ abduction – AI

Global Human Rights watchdog, Amnesty International (AI) has blamed Nigeria’s security forces for the abduction of schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe state.

It also said that there was warning earlier about the attack by members of Boko Haram.

It would be recalled that insurgents invaded Dapchi community and abducted 110 schoolgirls. The incident was similar to the Chibok scenario in April 2014, where an attack on a school in that community resulted in the abduction of 279 girls.

Reacting to the incident on Tuesday, AI revealed how the security forces failed to act on several tips on the impending attacks of Boko Haram, which according to it, would have spared the schoolgirls from abduction.

Amnesty Nigeria’s Director, Osa Ojigho, reiterated that no fewer than five calls were put across to security forces between 2pm and 6:30pm on the movement of the insurgents on the day of the attack, which were not met with the expected action to stop the insurgents.

Ojigho lamented that in spite of the several distress calls, the Nigerian military neither took effective measures to stop the abduction nor made serious efforts to rescue the girls after they were taken by Boko Haram fighters.

Detailing the log of the calls, Ojigho said the first call was made to the Nigerian Army Command in Geidam, 54km from Dapchi, informing them that Boko Haram fighters had been seen at Futchimiram heading to Gumsa, a village about 30km from Dapchi.

“The sighting of an armed convoy at Futchimiram immediately sparked several phone calls to alert authorities,” Ojigho revealed findings of AI on the incident.

He continued, “Sources who informed the military commander in Geidam at 2pm report that he responded to them by saying he was aware of the situation and was monitoring it.

“At about 3pm, the convoy arrived in Gumsa, where they remained till 5pm. People in Gumsa called Dapchi villagers to warn them that Boko Haram fighters were on their way. One villager who received such a call said he informed a police sergeant who promised to notify the Dapchi Division Police Officer (DPO).

“At about 6:30pm, when residents were heading to the mosque for evening prayers, Boko Haram members entered Dapchi. Witnesses said Boko Haram fighters asked for directions to the military post, the local government office and the girls’ school.”

AI findings which was arrived at after interviewing about 23 locals, noted that people from neighbouring town had spotted Boko Haram motorcade procession and were swift to alert security forces on their movement.

Accounts by victims and eyewitnesses sampled by AI revealed that Boko Haram invaded Dapchi at about 6:30pm without resistance from security forces after leaving Gumsa an hour earlier.

Some villagers who also volunteered their accounts told AI that a military jet hovers Dapchi an hour after Boko Haram have left the town with schoolgirls abducted.

“They left Dapchi at about 7:30pm in the direction of Gumsa, where villagers say they arrived at about 9p.m. During the attack, army officials both in Geidam and Damaturu were again alerted.

“The military only arrived in Dapchi shortly after Boko Haram left,” AI noted in the report.

Also quoting a police source, AI noted that personnel of the force in Dapchi fled the area on sighting the insurgents because they feared that the Boko Haram fighters would overpower them.

“Evidence available to Amnesty International suggests that there are insufficient troops deployed in the area, and that an absence of patrols and the failure to respond to warnings and engage with Boko Haram contributed to this tragedy.

“The government’s failure in this incident must be investigated and the findings made public and it is absolutely crucial that any investigation focuses on the root causes.”

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