The purported release of 48 of the 94 schoolgirls who went missing on Monday after Boko Haram terrorists attacked Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, is now enmeshed in controversy. The state government had on Wednesday issued a statement claiming that 48 of the girls had been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army, a statement that has now turned out to be false. In a surprising twist, the state government yesterday apologised for misinforming the public with its claim that the girls were rescued.
In a press release signed by the Yobe State director-general, Press Affairs, Mr. Abdullahi Bego, and entitled "apology and clarification," the state government stated that the information it issued about the matter was provided by one of the security agencies involved in the fight against Boko Haram.
He said the state government had since realised that the information was "unreliable" and had since apologised for it and retracted it. The statement reads in part: "The public may recall that we issued a statement last night in which we announced that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, who went missing after Boko Haram terrorists stormed their school last Monday, were rescued by officers and men of the Nigerian Army who are currently executing the war against the Boko Haram insurgents.
"We issued the statement on the basis of information provided by one of the security agencies that is involved in the fight against Boko Haram, which we had no reason to doubt. "We have now established that the information we relied on to make the statement was not credible."
The statement further stated that Governor Ibrahim Gaidam was in Dapchi yesterday where he met with community leaders and the principal and staff of the Girls' College.
"The governor also addressed the parents of some of the schoolgirls that are still unaccounted for where he told them to pray and exercise patience as the government and security agencies at all levels continue the work to address the unfortunate situation.
"His Excellency Governor Gaidam has also directed education ministry officials and the school administration to work closely with the security agencies to establish the actual number of the girls that are still unaccounted for and to contact parents and the community for possible information that could be useful in the investigation," it said.
It added that the Yobe State government would continue to work with security agencies and the federal government to address the situation. Meanwhile, LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the convoy of the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, was attached by some residents of Dapchi when the governor paid a visit to families of the missing girls.
This is even as the minister of information, Lai Mohammed, yesterday said that the Nigerian government would need more time to assess the situation in the community where some schoolgirls were reportedly kidnapped in Yobe State on Monday.
"On the issue of the number of missing girls, we cannot give what we are not sure of; until we hear from their parents, we cannot say this is the number," Mohammed told reporters shortly after he arrived at Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, yesterday.
"Give us a little more time, please," he pleaded. Lai Mohammed is one of the three ministers that President Muhammadu Buhari directed on Wednesday to embark on an immediate fact-finding mission to the state.