Defence Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, has given hopes that the 110 abducted students of Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, might be released by Boko Haram in the next two weeks, noting that the federal government was closing in on them.
The minister, who dropped the hint on a live Channels TV programme, Sunrise, weekend, said intelligence reports at his disposal indicated that the girls would soon be released, reinforcng President Muhammadu Buhari's earlier disclosure that the Federal Government would rather negotiate the release of both Dapchi and Chibok school girls to ensure their safety.
Asked to give a timeline as to when the girls would be released, Dan-Ali said: "It can be earlier; maybe a week, it can be two weeks, but we are on it, and I'm telling you with all sense of sincerity that we are closing in on them."
On how much hope there was for the girls' rescue, he said: "I cannot determine, it is an intelligence, but it is as soon as possible. I'm sure with the latest intelligence information we are getting, we shall get the girls soonest."
President Muhammadu Buhari, while meeting former United States of America Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, last week, in Abuja, had said he preferred to have the girls back alive, hence his government's adoption of negotiation, rather than military option.
Disclosing that Nigeria was working in concert with international organisations and negotiators, to ensure that the girls were released, the President added: "We are trying to be careful. It is better to get our daughters back alive."
The Dapchi girls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents who invaded their school on February 19, 2018.
We want some questions answered -BBOG
Reacting to the statement, spokesperson of Bring Back Our Girls, BBOG, Mr. Sesugh Akume, said: "We heard the comments by the Minister of Defence. That is what we want. We want all the Dapchi girls back.
"Today makes it one month since the Dapchi girls were abducted. It is also four years since the abduction of Chibol girls.
"We want all of them back. Despite what the minister said, we asked certain questions that needed to be answered. Whether they are back or not, we want the questions answered.
"The fact that they will be released does not do away with the fact that we want all our questions answered. We want to know why it happened."
Government knows where the girls are-- PDP
In its reaction, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said the assurance by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, that the Dapchi girls will so been released portrayed the impression that government knew where the girls were kept.
In a telephone conversation with Vanguard yesterday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the Minister's assurance of the imminent rescue of the abducted Dapchi girls was an indication that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, administration knew a thing or two about the whereabouts of the girls.
"If the minister said the girls will be rescued soon, that raises a lot of questions. It shows that there is a conspiracy on the part of government. That also means that those who said government kept the girls somewhere for a purpose know what they are talking about.
"But we need to ask the minister how soon the girls will reunite with their families," said the PDP image maker.
There may be orchestrated agenda--Afenifere
Reacting to the Defence Minister's disclosure on release of the Dapchi girls, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said there might be an orchestrated agenda to score some political points.
Afenifere's National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said: "If he is giving the timelines, he may be unwittingly saying that this is an orchestrated agenda to ensure that as we move to elections, it will show that this government is better than the previous one.
"You will remember that recently, the President said that his response was better than the previous government's response. So, if he is giving us details on when they are going to be released, it goes to show that this may have been orchestrated to score some political points."