Olalekan Adetayo, Leke Baiyewu, Olaleye Aluko, Kayode Idowu and Justin Tyopuusu
Some parents of the 110 abducted Government Girls Science and Technology College pupils in Dapchi, Yobe State, and sympathisers on Thursday occupied the premises of the National Assembly complex in Abuja, calling on the Federal Government to rescue their children.
The protesters, many of whom were clad in black clothes, were brought together by a group, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, and supported by Our Mumu DonDo Movement.
The groups transported five of the schoolgirls’ parents from Dapchi to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Three of the parents, who spoke with The PUNCH, said they had lost sleep and appetite after 17 days of waiting in vain for the girls to be rescued from the captivity of Boko Haram terrorists.
One of them, Yahaya Tarbutu, a 45-year-old farmer who has two daughters and a niece among the 110 abductees, stated that his life had been turned upside down since February 19 when the girls were abducted.
He gave the names of his daughters as Fatima Tarbutu, 13; Amina Tarbutu, 14, while he identified the niece as 15-year-old Maryam Ahmed.
Tarbutu said, “I am not feeling okay. I have not been sleeping properly and I cannot eat well. I called the Vice Principal, Administration, on the day of the abduction and he confirmed that terrorists came into the girls’ hostel. Since then, I have been in a panic mode.
“The following day, I was at the school with other parents and we searched the surrounding bushes for the girls who escaped. We brought some of the girls back, but other could not be found. The rescued girls said some pupils were taken away.
“The terrorists even entered Dapchi town. They shot indiscriminately. They did not attack anyone, but some people fled into the bushes until the terrorists left.”
Our correspondent learnt that another parent of the Dapchi schoolgirls, Fatima Saleh, fell ill on Thursday and had been admitted to a hospital in the Asokoro area of Abuja.
Boko Haram terrorists had on Monday, February 19, invaded the school. They took the girls away in a waiting truck.
The Federal Government through the Office of the National Security Adviser on February 28 constituted a 12-member committee to unravel the circumstances behind the abduction.
The committee was given till March 15, 2018, to submit its report.
‘No meeting with police’
Another parent, 35-year-old Aisha Bukar, said her daughter was in Senior Secondary Class 2A, adding that she was desperate to have her back.
She said, “One of my daughters was abducted. She is in SS2A. Since the time this incident happened, I have lost my sleep. The police have not held any meeting with us. We want the government to bring back our daughters. I am a housewife. I don’t work. I am worried, I cannot sleep.
“There was no information that Boko Haram terrorists were coming to the school. They just came suddenly. They were shooting everywhere. They left Dapchi around 8.30pm that day.”
Parent seeks international community’s help
Another parent, Rukaya Kundiri, said her daughter, Fatima, was in SS1 class.
She called on the international community to join forces with the Federal Government to locate and free the schoolgirls.
She said, “I want the government and the international community to come together to free our daughters. Those Boko Haram terrorists did not touch any property. They just came for the school. They did not attack any other house.”
Our correspondent learnt that the protesters were received at the National Assembly by Senators Abiodun Olujimi, Joseph Dada and Ali Wakil, who told them the efforts by the government to rescue the girls.
The Convener of the CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said the protest against Dapchi schoolgirls’ abduction was also to commemorate the International Women’s Day, noting that Nigerian women and the girl-child had become endangered species.
Atoye said, “After hundreds of Chibok girls were abducted in April 2014, Boko Haram came again for our daughters in Dapchi, Yobe State.
“It is now 17 days since our daughters have been taken away. We do not know how many days they will spend in captivity. We are asking the National Assembly to convene a special stakeholders’ summit to address the plight of women and the girl-child.
“The National Assembly should also investigate the conspiracy behind this abduction and how hundreds of girls were kidnapped in a war zone without them being spotted or meeting police or military checkpoints.”
Senate demands two-week rescue plan
The Senate has summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, to explain the circumstances surrounding the abduction.
The invitation followed the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Binta Masi Garba to commemorate the 2018 International Women’s Day.
The motion had Senators Stella Oduah, Oluremi Tinubu, Biodun Olujinmi, Monsurat Sumonu, Fatima Raji-Rasaki, Rose Oko, John Enoh and Yele Omogunwa as co-sponsors.
Unanimously granting prayers of the motion, the lawmakers resolved to “rejoice with Nigerian women and girls on this year’s International Women’s Day celebration.”
They also mandated the Senate Joint Committees on Police Affairs; and Security and Intelligence “to summon the Inspector-General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff to brief the Senate on the kidnap and present clear operational strategies to rescue the Dapchi schoolgirls, as well as the remaining Chibok girls within two weeks.”
Olujimi, who presented the motion on Garba’s behalf, said the Senate was concerned that the implementation of policies that prohibit violence against women and girls, and promote the girl-child’s education was still poor.
Olujimi added, “The Senate is further concerned that the spate of girl-child kidnapping in Nigeria has assumed an alarming dimension. On February 21, 2018, the nation was shocked with the news of the kidnap of 110 schoolgirls from Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi, in the Busari Local Government Area of Yobe State. This incident is reminiscent of the 2014 Chibok girls’ abduction, while 113 of the girls are still in captivity almost four years after.
“The Senate is worried that a pattern is gradually being established which clearly indicates that the objective of the Boko Haram insurgents is to deprive young girls of school age from pursuing education.
“The Senate is further worried that if this ugly trend is not checked, the girl-child education, which is part of the objective of Goal Number 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, would have been lost in Nigeria even before the 2030 target year.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, called for proper implementation of the affirmative action by Nigeria.
Leave our daughters alone, Aisha Buhari begs abductors
The wife of the President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, on Thursday appealed to all those behind abductions and other harmful practices against women and girls to “leave our daughters alone.”
According to a statement by her Director of Information, Suleiman Haruna, the President’s wife made the call during an event to mark the 2018 International Women’s Day at the National Centre for Women Development, Abuja.
The statement quoted Mrs. Buhari as saying that for Nigeria, the day must be marked with a difference considering the sad incident of the abduction of girls, especially the cases of Chibok and Dapchi.
“As a mother, I share the agony of the parents; it is my sincere hope that efforts by government will soon lead to their release,” she said.
The President’s wife introduced a theme, ‘Leave our daughters alone,’ which she said was a strong call for the end of abductions.
She charged the media to own the campaign and spread the message.
She also charged wives of state governors to propagate the campaign in their various states.
According to Mrs. Buhari, the message must echo through all corners of Nigeria and be on everyone’s lips.
Wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, also said it was sad that Nigerian women were witnessing the worst of times because of many negative things that were happening.
Despite the negative things, she said there were many good stories happening around women.
The Director-General of the NCWD, Mary Ekpere-Eta, said this year, there was an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice.
‘Police’ll resist further abduction of schoolgirls’
The abduction of the Dapchi secondary schoolgirls was an eye-opener that Boko Haram insurgents were out to pounce on soft targets and the police were ready to resist them, the Borno State Police Commissioner, Damian Chukwu, said on Thursday.
The CP, who also ordered the surrendering of illegal firearms in circulation in the troubled state, said the situation in the North-East called for vigilance, noting that “the Federal Government has decided that more stringent methods be put in place for the protection of schools.’’
He said, “The Department of Operations has come out with an operational order. Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers were advised about it; so far the action taken is encouraging.
“Accordingly, Area Commanders have been directed to coordinate meetings with their DPOs and invite relevant stakeholders and encourage them to take measures as follows: Strengthen security in their schools; movement of students, teachers and visitors to be monitored; encourage the use of dogs to complement the existing security measures; assist the security agencies with the timely information; and provide relevant recommendations for effective protection of schools.”
The CP issued a 21-day ultimatum to persons with illegal arms to surrender them to the nearest police station.
He warned against shunning the order, noting that a committee saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the order was fully obeyed had been established.
He said the proliferation of illegal arms had resulted into killings and violent crimes not only in Borno, but Taraba, Zamfara, Kaduna and Benue states.
He said the IG was the only authorising officer to issue licences to possess fire arms, noting that while Dane guns might be possessed without approval of any authority, single-barrelled and double-barrelled guns required licensing by the police.
He said, “Anybody found using illegal arms is liable for arrest and prosecution in the law court.”
Police DIG relocates to Yobe
The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Joshak Habila, on Thursday relocated to Yobe State to ensure quick rescue of Dapchi schoolgirls.
On arrival in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, Habila was received at the Yobe State Police Command headquarters by the Commissioner of Police Mr. Sunmonu Abdulmaliki, among other senior officers of the command.
The DIG held discussions with police officers and urged them to double their efforts towards the rescue of the girls so as to reunite them with their families.
Joshak, while sympathising with the parents and the people of Yobe State over the incident, assured them that all security agencies were working hard to free the girls and called on the people to help them with useful information.
“In the course of my stay here, I will meet with parents, school teachers, headmasters, principals and all other relevant authorities to ensure that their confidence in sending their children to school is restored.
“We shall also meet with sister security agencies, government officials and traditional rulers for effective partnership that will lead to the release of the 110 schoolgirls,” he said.
The DIG stated that while in the state, he would address other issues, such as threat to academic institutions by the insurgents, adding that he would ensure compliance with the directive of the President to deploy security personnel in schools in the state to provide peaceful learning environment.
Dapchi parents send delegation to Abuja
Parents of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls on Thursday sent a delegation to Abuja to continue to clamour for the release of the schoolgirls.
The Secretary of the parents association, Alhaji Bukar Kachalla, told our correspondent on the telephone that the Dapchi delegation was expected to meet the Bring Back Our Girls campaigners and other women groups in Abuja at the World Women’s Day celebration to help with the clamour for the release of the girls.
“Most of these girls are between the ages of 11 and 15 years; allowing them to pass through this kind of experience will affect them,” he said.