Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has said that the country would hold the Army and Police responsible for the abduction of 110 Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State.
He also asked the security agencies to take responsibility for failing to stop the abduction, adding that the buck passing between the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Police Force was unacceptable.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Hassan Turaki, Dogara said rather than trading blames, the various security agencies should strengthen inter-agency collaboration and intensify efforts towards rescuing the girls.
“The statements credited to the Army and the Police in which they tried to exonerate themselves from any culpability in the unfortunate and embarrassing abduction of innocent girls from their school in Dapchi , Yobe State, are highly condemnable. “This is unacceptable and the House of Representatives, and indeed Nigerians, will hold the security agencies responsible.
They all bear responsibility for this unfortunate incident. “The traumatic experience of the Chibok abduction which is still fresh in our minds should have served as a warning signal to security agencies to provide adequate security protection to all schools in the North East.
“I want to use this medium to console the parents of the abducted girls and the entire Dapchi community over this unfortunate incident. “I also urge all Nigerians and people of goodwill from all over to pray for the safe return of the girls”.
Anger erupted in a town in remote northeast Nigeria on February 22 after officials fumbled to account for scores of schoolgirls from the college who locals say have been kidnapped by Boko Haram jihadists.
Police said on February 21 that 111 girls from the college were unaccounted for following a jihadist raid late on February 19. Hours later, Abdullahi Bego, spokesman for Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, said “some of the girls” had been rescued by troops “from the terrorists who abducted them”. But on a visit to Dapchi last Thursday, Gaidam appeared to question whether there had been any abduction.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government yesterday provided the names and details of the 110 girls missing after Boko Haram attacked Dapchi in Yobe State.
Residents of the community and staff of the school had told newsmen that the girls were kidnapped by the terrorists last week Monday during the attack.
Parents of the girls also released a list of 105 girls missing after the attack.
After the parents released the list, the Federal Government announced that 110 girls were actually missing.
Yesterday, the Federal Government provided the names of the girls and the classes they were in before the abduction.
“Of the 110 missing girls, eight are in JSS1, 17 in JSS2, 12 in JSS3, 40 in SS1, 19 in SS2 and 14 in SS3. The girls’ ages range from 11 to 19 years, the presidency stated on its official Tweeter handle.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, later released a statement providing further details on the missing girls.
Apart from the full list of the missing girls, the statement also contained the age and class each of the 110 students belonged to.
Mr. Mohammed said the details were compiled by a screening committee.
“The 26 screening committee members include the executive secretary, State Teaching Service Board, Musa Abdulsalam; Director, Schools’ Management, Ministry of Education, Shuaibu Bulama; Principal of GGSTC, Adama Abdulkarim; the two vice principals, Ali Musa Mabu and Abdullahi Sule Lampo; Admission Officer, Bashir Ali Yerima, and Form Masters for all the classes,” he said
The statement also indicated that the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, has relocated to Yobe State to ‘personally’ superintend the search for the girls.
Mr. Mohammed said the Nigerian Air Force had flown 200 hours while conducting the search at 6.00 p.m. on Monday.
“The Nigerian Air Force had earlier deployed more platforms to the North-east for the search, as the security agencies ramp up their effort to locate and rescue the girls”, he said
Apart from providing details of the missing girls, the minister also announced that the government set up a 12-member committee to probe the circumstances that led to the Dapchi incident.
According to the minister, the committee will be inaugurated on February 28 and is expected to submit its report by March 15.
Mr. Mohammed said the committee is saddled with recommending measures to prevent future occurrence in the country and suggest measures that can lead to the location and rescue of the girls.
He said the responsibility of the committee includes ascertaining the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the girls, confirming the presence, composition, scale and disposition of security in Dapchi as well as in the school before the incident .
“The committee which was convened by the National Security Adviser (NSA),Babagana Monguno, will be chaired by a military officer of the rank of Major-General, comprises one senior provost each from the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force; representatives of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA); Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA);Nigeria Police Force (NPF); Department of State Services (DSS); Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC); two representatives of the Yobe State Government and a representative of the Office of the National Security Adviser,” Mr. Mohammed said.
Similarly, the Nigerian Army yesterday reacted to a newly-published memo which indicated that the Defence Intelligence Agency put the military on the notice about possible Boko Haram attacks in Borno and Yobe States, some days before insurgents stormed a school and possibly abducted more than 100 girls.
The Army said the memo, published by Sahara Reporters yesterday afternoon, was an attempt to bolster a narrative that the military was negligent in its counter-terrorism duties which consequently resulted in the successful attack on Dapchi, Yobe State, by Boko Haram on February 19.
The February 6 memo, signed by Emmanuel Aladeniyi, a brigadier-general, warned of impending attacks, especially suicide bombing, in public places, such as the University of Maiduguri, markets, mosques and parks.
It also said that Boko Haram was plotting an abduction of 17 citizens for suicide missions and a separate mass abduction of citizens for other deadly missions such as the use of Personnel-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (PBIED) or Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) “using especially Golf cars with registration numbers from states of the North.”
“It is very crystal clear” that the memo “does not corroborate the argument and narrative Sahara Reporters is attempting to sell to the public,” Onyema Nwachukwu, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Army in Maiduguri, said in a statement to newsmen yesterday afternoon.
“For one, the memo was a general warning about possible Boko Haram activities in Maiduguri and Damaturu, Borno and Yobe capitals, respectively, and did not include any specific or even general reference to Dapchi or facilities within it.
“The content reflects general intelligence alert, to which we cannot conveniently situate the attack on Dapchi, one of the several towns in Yobe State,” Mr. Nwachukwu, a colonel, said.
Secondly, Mr. Nwachukwu said, the date on the memo was February 6, 2018, nearly a month after the troops had been moved from Dapchi to Kanama, about 125 kilometres North-east of Dapchi on Nigeria’s border with Niger. The troops were moved to Kanama on a reinforcement after Nigerian soldiers came under heavy firepower there.
“As at the time of that redeployment, there was no imminent threat on Dapchi,” he said. “Rather, the threat was on Kanama where the insurgents were carrying out attacks along the Nigerian-Nigerien border.”
Mr. Nwachukwu’s statement reaffirms the details he gave newsmen which included the fact that the Nigerian Army’s 159 Task Force Battalion was moved from Dapchi to Kanama on January 10, exactly 40 days before the invasion of the girls’ school in Dapchi on February 19.
The military has come under public criticism since Governor Ibrahim Geidam of Yobe State first raised the allegation on February 24 that the military abruptly withdrew from Dapchi a week before the attack.
But the military rejected the claim first on Sunday night and again yesterday, saying soldiers left Dapchi about six weeks before the attack and had a compelling reason to do so.
Mr. Nwachukwu said the police were placed in charge of security operations in Dapchi, which he said had never been attacked before January 19 and was never under any imminent threat of Boko Haram.
The police have rejected the allegations, saying the military did not “formally hand over the security of the town to them.”
The Army insisted that the police should be responsible for communities that have never been attacked before by insurgents, like Dapchi, and communities that were once Boko Haram strongholds but had since been liberated.
“Our role is to defend the territorial integrity of the country. It’s the role of the sister security agencies to protect the civilian population whenever we have liberated a community from insurgents,” Mr. Nwachukwu told newsmen.
He said the police did nothing to repel the attack despite having a division in Dapchi.
Nigeria Needs Effective Leadership To Be Great -Wike
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has said that Nigeria needs effective leadership for the country to achieve the dreams and aspirations of its founding fathers.
He stated this during the Juma’at service in commemoration of the 62nd Independence Anniversary of Nigeria, held at the JIBWIS Directorate Headquarters, Central Mosque, Bonny Street, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The governor, who was represented by the Special Adviser on School Sports, Dr Okiri Mohammed, said despite the numerous challenges bedevilling the country, Nigerians must collectively resolve to make the nation great.
“Remember we have one country Nigeria, and we must make it great. For us to make it great, we must see it as our duty.”
The Rivers State governor said the task of nation building was the responsibility of every citizen of the country, and the 62nd Independence anniversary celebration should be seen as a time for stocktaking.
He emphasised that Nigerians must collectively continue to demand for probity and accountability from the leadership in order to move the country forward.
“Let us continue to ensure that there is probity and accountability in this country. We need effective leadership in this country before it will go forward.”
The governor charged Muslims to continue to preach the message of peace and join hands with other Nigerians to reduce crime and poverty in Nigeria.
”As Muslim you are charged to preach peace in your various homes. We have to make sure we collectively reduce poverty and crime. We have to make sure that this country is better.”
The governor pointed out that the country is at a critical juncture, and charged Nigerians to participate effectively in the 2023 general election.
“We don’t have another country apart from Nigeria and so, all of us collectively and individually have a duty to make this country better.”
Delivering his sermon, the Imam of Bonny Island, Yusuf Lamis, charged Nigerians to be patriotic and contribute to the development of the nation.
He said the earnest prayer of every Muslims in the country is for God’s intervention in the emergence of credible political leaders in the 2023 general election.
Wike Intervenes In Ula-Ehuda, Julius Berger Dispute
Hope for the speedy completion of the dualisation of Ahoada-Omoku highway has been rekindled, following the intervention of Rivers State Governor, Chief NyesomWike, in the face-off between Ula-Ehuda community and the Julius Berger, the construction company handling the project.
Wike, who visited Ula-Ehuda, yesterday, to assess the progress of the ongoing construction work and to settle the disagreement between the community and Julius Berger, advised youths in the community to learn how to channel their problem appropriately to the government.
The governor, who was accompanied by the Rivers State Commissioner of Works, Dr. Dakorinama George-Kelly; former Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Chibudum Nwuche; Deputy Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Ehie Ogerenye Edison; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer in Rivers State, Sir Siminialayi Fubara; and others, said his administration takes exception to disruption of construction work in any part of state.
He admonished community leaders in the state, irrespective of their political leanings, never to politicise the issue of development, as this could be detrimental to the progress of their people.
“I tell people: don’t be a curse to yourself. And I’ve always told people too: don’t bring politics in the development of a place. If you bring politics, you’ll suffer it. None of you put pressure on us to say we must dualise this road.”
The governor explained that his administration took the decision to dualise the road in recognition of the fact that it would promote access to economic and social services, generate increased agricultural incomes and productive employment opportunities and reduce poverty in the state.
Wike, who urged the community to support the state government’s effort to improve infrastructure in the area, cautioned that government would, henceforth, not tolerate any disruption of the ongoing dualisation work.
“If you have problem, channel your problem appropriately. But don’t come and begin to use your young boys and young girls to stop the road construction.”
The governor assured the community that the concerns raised would be adequately addressed, adding that the government would not allow anyone or group of individuals to derail the progress of the area.
“We have come to open up your community to be like a city, and you want to send your community backwards, it will not work. Support us to do what we are doing.”
Earlier, the Chairman,Ula-Ehuda Community Development Committee, Monday Princewill Evergreen, thanked Wike for the project, and appealed for the inclusion of drainage in the Ula-Ehuda section of the Ahoada-Omoku highway.
“We are grateful that you brought this project to our community, not just our community, Ahoada East. For long, we had envisaged that this road will be dualised and constructed. It was until you came that that dream was realised, and the community and the entire people of Ekpeye are eternally grateful to you.”
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Works, Dr. George-Kelly D. Alabo, had advised some protesting youths at the Ula-Ehuda axis of Ahoada-Omoku Dual Carriageway to shun obstructive means of demonstration at the project site, because if the project,was not completed as a result of their actions, the people of the area would be the ones to lose and not Julius Berger.
George-Kelly advised them to allow the construction giant to continue with their work while he makes an arrangement for a round-table talk between all parties involved to find an amicable solution to the contentious issue on drainage before the end of the week.
Residents of Ula-Ehuda in Ahoada East Local Government Area were addressed by the commissioner, who was accompanied by the Chairman of Ahoada East Local Government Council, Hon. Ben Eke, to inspect the Ahoada-Omoku Dual Carriageway project, last Tuesday.
“I am not here to blame anybody but to solve a problem. I am here to provide a solution that will be good for the community, the government, and the contractor. If we must tell ourselves the truth, stopping them from working will not solve the problem, it would even put you at the disadvantaged end because if this project is not completed, it is the people of this area that will lose, not Julius Berger.
“Please, do not make the mistake some youths of a particular local government area made. They stopped two projects of the state government in their area over frivolous demands, the state government made several attempts to persuade them to allow the construction of the projects to continue, like I am doing now, but they refused. Contractors left sites, and the projects were abandoned. Two years after, the contactors are yet to resume work for excuses of community disturbances. When the contractors eventually go back to sites, the projects may become more expensive for government, given the current fluctuations.
“The best thing to do now is to allow the contractor to finish the initial scope of the project first.Maybe, before the commissioning, you can make this other demand, and we will forward same to the governor. Please, realise that even in your demands, due process has to be followed.
“I am appealing to you to allow them complete this work on schedule so that it can be commissioned by or before December. By Friday this week (yesterday), I’ll be having a meeting between the ministry, the council chairman, representatives of Julius Berger, the project CLOs, and Ula-Ehuda community leaders. I will like the community to include, at least, two indigenous civil engineers in their delegation so that they can understand and interprete to you some technical details that would be discussed in the meeting,” the commissioner added.
Also, the commissioner inspected the 8.020km Akpabu-Itu-Omudioga Road project, phase 1 in Emohua Local Government Area.
Checks show that asphaltic binder course had been completed for the entire road length and 700m asphalt wearing course had been done so far.
The project is 75percent completed and in progress.
Catholic Bishops Vow To Work For Credible Polls In 2023
Bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja have pledged to work with relevant stakeholders to ensure free, credible and transparent general elections in 2023.
The commitment is contained in a communiqué jointly signed by Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Abuja and Very Rev. Fr. Sam Tumba, after the 3rd General assembly of the Archdiocese.
In the communique issued on Saturday in Abuja, the bishops enjoined Parishes, families, Church societies and groups to dedicate special moments to pray for a hitch-free election.
“We call on Catholics and indeed all Nigerian citizens to be consciously and actively involved in the electoral processes at all levels.
“Voter registration, collection of Permanent Voters Card, casting votes on election days with a firm and clear conscience to elect credible leaders who will bring about the true dividends of democracy”, they said.
The bishops commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the Electoral Act into law to enhance the sanctity of the electoral process.
“We task the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure political fairness and transparency, to consolidate the trust reposed in them by Nigerians.
“Parishes and Catholic institutions within our Archdiocese are encouraged to arrange and organize voter awareness programmes, seminars and workshops guided by the Justice, Development and Peace Commission, to better equip our people for greater political responsibility.
“We remain open and willing to collaborate with relevant government agencies, electoral bodies and security operatives to ensure peaceful and credible election processes in the coming year,” the communique added.
The bishops cautioned politicians not to regard the election as a ‘do or die’ affair, adding that they must also refrain from money politics, manipulative and divisive practices along ethnic, social and religious lines to win elections.
“Even though we decry the hard economic situations in the nation, we strongly discourage all Catholics and especially our youths from lending themselves as easy recruits for political thuggery and other criminal activities to enthrone selfish and incompetent aspirants into electoral offices.
“We discourage and condemn any form of vote buying or selling and other electoral malpractices during the elections,” the bishops said.
The bishops advised catholic politicians from all political parties within the Archdiocese to participate in Church activities, so as to be better known by the faithful.
They called on all people of goodwill to cooperate with security agencies to root out criminal elements within communities.
The bishops, however, urged security agents to remain professional in discharging their duties and resist any attempt to be used to intimidate the people by corrupt politicians.
The communique called on Catholics across the country to match work with prayer, for peaceful electioneering process.
They called for sustained prayers for the country, adding: “Nigerians should take courage and be of ardent hope, for the storms will soon be over.”
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