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PDP wants National Assembly to probe Dapchi schoolgirls’ abduction


Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, where 110 girls were abducted by Boko Haram last week. PHOTO: AFP

• CNN journalist slams President Buhari govt over kidnap
• B’Haram forces 52% of children out of school, says UNICEF

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday urged the National Assembly to immediately investigate the circumstances surrounding the abduction of 110 Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State.

The party said the probe became imperative in the face of “rising speculations and conspiracy theories in the public space, fuelled by conflicting reports, attempts at cover-up and disagreements among government officials and agencies regarding the incident”

In a statement yesterday by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said that in conducting the investigation, the National Assembly must take a critical note of the allegation by the Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Geidam, that the abduction was preceded by withdrawal of troops safeguarding the troubled area.

“The governor is the chief security officer of the state and his statement cannot be taken lightly or even dismissed by just a wave of the hand by anybody or any government agency under any guise whatsoever.”

The PDP also urged the lawmakers to investigate the various conflicting reports that have greeted the abduction, particularly the initial alleged moves by the Federal Government to deny the occurrence of the incident.

“Nigerians are indeed worried about the apparent deliberate design to hide the facts of this abduction and demand to know the truth. It is a common saying in Africa that thunder does not strike on the same spot twice.

“We must not allow our national ambience to be filled with speculations from conspiracy theorists. Our lawmakers must, therefore, in unravelling the matter, question all security agencies, particularly those operating in the area,” the party added.

Also, the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Ona Ekhomu, advised the Federal Government to set up a special task force to rescue the abducted girls.

He said the team which should report to the National Security Adviser (NSA) should include personnel of the security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Justice.

He called for an immediate announcement of a N50 million reward for information leading to the rescue of the girls. According to him, the money would induce people who have information to talk.

Even Cable News Network (CNN) anchorwoman and correspondent, Isha Sesay, is worried . Yesterday, she engaged President Muhammadu Buhari in tweets over the abduction.

Buhari had recently described the attack on the school as a national disaster, but Sesay disagreed, describing the incident as a national disgrace.

In a series of tweets, Sesay faulted Buhari’s narrative, saying “ ‘national disaster’ doesn’t cut it. I’m taking ‘national disgrace’ which implies blame and responsibility.” According to her, it is an “understatement” to describe the incident as a disaster.

The journalist tweeted that the Yobe abduction was a reminder of a similar incident in Chibok, Borno State where over 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014.

“Lack of clarity surrounding #Yobe attack and whereabouts of #schoolgirls is enormously distressing. It feels like I’ve been taken back to 2014 #Chibok nightmare.

“I want to live in a world where the lives of the #DapchiGirls are held to be just as important as those of kids in other places, not a world where everyone is talking about schoolgirls being stolen by terrorists. Is that too much to ask?”

Some 110 girls were declared missing in the wake of an attack on the school in Dapchi last Monday by suspected Boko Haram terrorists.

Sesay, who covered the agitation for the release of the Chibok girls for CNN, lamented the recurrence of the incident in Yobe and urged the people and government of Nigeria to move against the wicked act.

“No parent should ever endure this. No government should be allowed to look away. Use your voice to demand action!” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed more damage on the school system by the Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast .

In its 2018 Fact Sheet on “The Crisis on Education in Borno State,” the UN agency said 52 per cent of children in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe states never attended school, because of the nine-year insurgency.

According to UNICEF, 1,397 primary and junior secondary schools were destroyed and 2,295 teachers lost their lives between 2012 and 2017.

“Some of the teachers were killed while teaching. Others were maimed while traveling, including the ones that were killed in their residences and staff quarters.”

It said “27.6% children are literate in North East (26.8% girls) compared to 73.3% (74.7% girls) in the Southwest.” Only 28.6 per cent of children are numerate in the affected region (27.9% girls), compared to the Southwest region with 82.8% (83.5% girls).

UNICEF Chief Field Officer in Borno, Geoffrey Ijumba, at a recent symposium in Maiduguri, said the crisis and other violence in Borno and Yobe states had separated children from their parents.

According to Ijumba, school attendance figures are even worse for girls in the Northeast.
He urged stakeholders to tackle the ugly situation.

In a reaction to the UNICEF report, Mr. Kulka Nawal Hutsa of Polo Primary School Maiduguri, Borno State said enrollment had increased in his school because children were excited about schools but the parents were fearful.

“Many of them are so afraid because of Boko Haram attack. But we are trying to encourage them. We have improved on our security apparatus, which include peace corps and local vigilantes and state security service. Some of our teachers also walk the students’ home and we encourage parents to also accompany their children to school. This arrangement has put confidence in many of the parents and guardians.

But many of the children do not have learning materials because their parents cannot afford them and this makes some of them feel bored at schools,” he said.

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