The federal government has confirmed that the number of freed Dapchi girls has risen to 105.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one of its Governors, Ekiti’s Ayo Fayose allege that the APC administration stage-managed the abduction and release of the girls of the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.
PDP said on its Twitter handle: ““We condemn the @APCNigeria and certain officials in the @NPresidency for staging the abduction of the schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State, for political purposes. It is wicked, callous and tormenting to use innocent schoolgirls as pawns.
“Nigerians know that the main aim of this devilish act was to delude the public, set the stage for an orchestrated rescue, create a heroic myth and false sense of achievement around the @APCNigeria administration and serve as a spur for @MBuhari ’s declaration to contest in 2019.
“As a political party, we want to further state unequivocally that by all ramifications, this is a war crime against humanity and gross violation of human rights on the part of the @APCNigeria administration, all in the bid to push a selfish and ill-lucked 2019 ambition.”
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose questioned the manner in which the girls were returned.
He added: “This appears like an arranged abduction and an arranged release, but we thank God that the innocent girls have returned homeand we condole with parents of those that died.”
“Curiously, the same spirit who made sure that all military checkpoints in Dapchi and other surrounding towns were removed to pave way for abduction of the girls also made sure that the girls were returned without any security agent seeing them.
“One can only be hopeful that the real script writers behind this drama will be exposed one day.
“Nigerians should recall that the Governor of Yobe state, Ibrahim Geidam said that military checkpoints were withdrawn from Dapchi and other communities a few days before the abduction of the 110 girls.
“Specifically, Amnesty International said that security forces failed to act on advance warnings that a convoy of Boko Haram fighters was heading to Dapchi town and that between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm on February 19, 2018, calls were made to tell the security services that the Boko Haram insurgents were in the Dapchi area.
“No doubt, withdrawal of military checkpoints from Dapchi and other communities, few days before the 110 students were abducted and failure of the security forces to act on advance warnings exposed the conspiracy of the federal government and its agents in the abduction of the school girls and other dastardly acts of the insurgents.
“Interestingly, no one was questioned up till now despite conflicting claims by the army and police as well as the damning report by the Amnesty International hat between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm on February 19, 2018, calls were made to tell the security services that the Boko Haram insurgents were in the Dapchi area.”
“Those benefitting from Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) scams, payment of ransom (in dollars) to free those abducted by the Boko Haram insurgents, among others will never wish to see the end of the insurgency.”
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, confirmed the new figures just as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, praised President Muhammadu Buhari on the release of the female students abducted from the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.
He said, in a statement by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan, the President’s efforts in ensuring that the girls were freed from captivity has yielded results with the hope of ending years of violent insurgency in the North East.
He, however, called for proactive steps to be taken to forestall a reoccurrence of the incident by security agencies.
“We must remind all those concerned that mass abduction of innocent schoolgirls should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. While we await the outcome of the investigation by the House Ad hoc Committee, the House of Representatives will not accept any further excuses or buck passing between the various security agencies.
Dogara noted that intelligence gathering must be strengthened to prevent attacks before they occur.
While commiserating with the released girls, their parents and families for the ordeal they went through, the speaker gave assurances of the House of Representatives’ readiness to continue to promote the security of lives and properties of Nigerians working in concert with the Executive.
He also added that efforts should be intensified to free the remaining Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls and indeed all those in captivity.
Meantime, Federal Government said a total of 106 abducted persons, comprising 104 Daphi schoolgirls, one other girl and a boy were freed by insurgents in the early hours of Wednesday.
Briefing journalists in Maiduguri, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said all the 106 persons were freed unconditionally, contrary to reports in a section of the media that ransom was paid and that some insurgents were swapped for the freed persons.
”It is not true that we paid ransom for the release of the Dapchi girls, neither was there a prisoner swap to secure their release.
”What happened was that the abduction itself was a breach of the ceasefire talks between the insurgents and the government, hence it became a moral burden on the abductors. Any report that we paid ransom or engaged in prisoner swap is false,” he said.
Meanwhile, the freed persons have been formally handed over to the Federal Government.
The Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, handed over the girls and one boy to the four-member Federal Government Delegation at the Nigerian Air Force base in Maiduguri on Wednesday evening
The delegation comprised the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau (retired); the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajia
Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Hon. Goni Lawan Bukar, a member of House of Representatives from Dapchi.
The girls were immediately airlifted to Abuja aboard a military transport plane.