MOST of the Government Girls’ Science Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe state students abducted on 19 February 2018 and released by their Boko Haram captors on Wednesday, were reported to have returned with skin diseases having been unable to have their bath for a month.
This is according to Lawal Daura, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) who formally presented the 105 girls and two primary school pupils to President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.
He also disclosed that four of the students were found with broken limbs but did not say how they sustained the injuries.
Daura said upon their release, the former hostages had been taken to a DSS medical facility where they were examined and those found with ailments, treated.
According to him, “On release, the victims were taken into the DSS medical facility and are put through programmes to give them mental stability. As such, they are given psychological mental evaluation conducted by trained specialists.
“About four were discovered to have broken limbs and were sent for Xray. Almost all of them had one skin infection or the other having not taken bath for over a month.
“They have been medically examined, and those with ailments were treated. The measures are to ensure that they are in good health.”
The DSS boss, who said six of the Dapchi school girls were yet to be accounted for, noted that the insurgents’ only condition for the release of the girls was a cessation of hostilities and temporary ceasefire to enable them to return the girls at the point they picked them.
He said they required assurances that the government security forces would keep to this, noting that the exercise was arduous and quite challenging.
Daura regretted the utterances of some unqualified government officials who he said nearly jeopardized the rescue efforts.
He stated that security’s engagement with the insurgent was determined by some critical factors but there were difficulties because the terrorists were factionalised and also holding influence in their guerrilla controlled enclaves.
He added: “The sensitivity of the operation and some uncertainties surrounding it particularly routes to be used, nature of transportation, realisation and concern that the girls were not kept in one place, issues of encountering Military checkpoints within the theater and indeed keeping the operation on strictly the ‘Principles of Need-to-Know’ made the whole exercise more complicating
“Beyond the release of the abducted girls, our primary interest for engaging in the dialogue was informed by the following: permanent, possible cessation of hostilities; discussing the fate of the arrested insurgents and innocent Nigerian citizens being held hostage and possibility of granting amnesty to repentant insurgents.
“These presently seem problematic because the insurgents are factionalized while holding various spheres of influence in their guerrilla controlled enclaves.
“The negative impact of social media on otherwise classified operations and of course, some of the utterances of the government functionaries who were not competent to comment on the issues, posed challenges that almost marred the rescue efforts.
On the way forward, the DSS boss recommended: “In view of the Nation’s experience through these years of insurgency, it is humbly suggested that efforts be sustained towards
“Ensuring the release of all abducted persons in the North East Theatre of Operation
“Improve the strategic plan for the safety of schools in vulnerable locations, using all available national assets.
“Improve the coordination efforts amongst security agencies to avoid future incidents.
“Expand the current dialogue towards conflict mitigation and resolution, with a view to getting an everlasting peace for the entire sub-region.”
He said the feat so far recorded in the release of the victims was a clear example of collaboration among security agencies.