By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Federal government, Sunday, called for withdrawal of Peoples’ Democratic Party’s registration as a political party.
The minister of Information and Culture, Alh. LA Mohammed made the call on Sunday at a press conference on the release of the abducted Dapchi School Girls held in Lagos.
The minister, who was reacting to the statement made by what he called Naysayers, the opposition PDP in particular to the release of the Dapchi girls, said, “What called for non-partisan celebrations was rather thoughtlessly turned into politics, bad, despicable politics that has no place in any democracy.
“You are not unaware of the reaction of the naysayers – the main opposition PDP in particular – to the release of the Dapchi girls. What called for non-partisan celebrations was rather thoughtlessly turned into politics, bad, despicable politics that has no place in any democracy. At times of national tragedies, countries unite. This is the norm everywhere.
“The PDP and its co-travelers do not understand that terrorism is a global problem. A terror attack on any country is an attack on all countries. The UN was among the first international organizations to condemn the abduction of the Dapchi girls and also among the first to welcome their release
“There should be a new criterion for withdrawing the registration of a party like the PDP which has failed both as a ruling and an opposition party! If a party cannot rule and cannot be in opposition, what else can it do?
“Perhaps we should ask the PDP what indeed the party knows about the abduction of the Dapchi girls, going by its statement that their abduction and release were stage-managed.
“The party made itself a laughing stock within and outside Nigeria with that statement. Don’t they know that our international friends are involved in the process
that led to the release of the girls? Indeed, there should be a new criterion for withdrawing the registration of a party like the PDP which has failed both as a ruling and an opposition party! If a party cannot rule and cannot be in opposition, what else can it do?”
Alh. Mohammed, while, quoting the statement of the President when he received the Dapchi girls last Friday, said: ” May I warn against those elements who have chosen to make political fortune of our citizens’ misfortune. Government would not tolerate any attempt by any person or group to trivialize or politicize security issues for politically motivated ends”, adding that, “security agencies would not hesitate to decisively deal with such unscrupulous characters.”
Number of girls abducted
On the true number of girls abducted by the insurgents, the minister explained that a total of 111 girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary and Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi on the day of the abduction. An indication that one student was not captured on the list of 110 abducted students that was compiled by the school, on the basis of which the Federal Government gave the number of abducted schoolgirls
He said also kidnapped were two other persons, who are not students of the college.
According to him, they include a primary school boy who came to the school to sell pure water and another primary school girl, bringing the total number of abducted persons on that day to 113.
“So far, a total of 107 persons, comprising 105 Dapchi schoolgirls and the two non-students, have been released by the insurgents.
“Six Dapchi schoolgirls are yet unaccounted for. All efforts will be made to secure their release,” he added.
How Dapchi Girls were freed
On how the school girls were freed, Mohammed maintained that the release of the girls was unconditional.
“As I have said at many fora, we neither paid ransom nor swapped any Boko Haram member to secure the release of the girls.
“This is a fact, irrespective of how a section of the press has tried to spin the story.
“The insurgents brought the girls back to the location of the kidnapping themselves as an apparent gesture of goodwill, following relentless efforts by the Government to find long-lasting solutions to the conflict.
How the insurgence were able to return the girls unattacked despite troops presence
Speaking on how the insurgents returned the girls unchallenged by the troops, the minister said, “Unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now. The talks helped to secure the release of the police officers’ wives and the University of Maiduguri lecturers recently. And the talks did not stop thereafter.
“We were able to leverage on the wider talks when the Dapchi girls were abducted. As I said earlier, the insurgents decided to return the girls to where they picked them from as a goodwill gesture. All they demanded was a ceasefire that will grant them a safe corridor to drop the girls.
“This is not new. Even in larger war situations, safe corridors are usually created for humanitarian and other purposes. Consequently, a week-long ceasefire was declared, starting from Monday, 19 March. That is why the insurgents were able to drop the girls. This counters the conspiracy theories being propounded in some quarters concerning why it was so easy for the insurgents to drop off the girls without being attacked by the military.”
Why the Girls were Freed Early
On why the girls were freed early, he said it was a response to President Buhari’s directives to the security operatives to swing into action for the release of the abducted girls.
“President Buhari put this in perspective when he said the response of his Administration is a marked departure from the attitude of the preceding administration in the aftermath of the kidnap of the 276 Chibok girls in 2014
“No stone was left unturned to secure the release of the girls. The President sent FG’s delegation twice to Dapchi and Damaturu, within four days, to engage in fact-finding and to condole with the government and people of Yobe State and the families of the abducted girls.
“The President ordered the Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to take direct charge and brief him on a daily basis on the efforts to bring back the girls.
“The President ordered the re-strengthening of a Joint Operational Base involving relevant agencies and Services to coordinate the rescue mission.
“The Nigerian Air Force maintained aerial surveillance of the area all through.”
While thanking Nigerians for their support and prayers, Mohammed said, the government will continue with the ongoing efforts to account for the remaining six Dapchi girls, and indeed to bring back the remaining Chibok girls.
“This Administration remains committed to the fight against terrorism and insurgency. The security services have since been directed to put in place further measures around all schools vulnerable to attacks to ensure the safety of pupils/students and teachers and school workers. The President has also tasked all the security agencies to work to ensure that we do not witness any recurrence of these incidents.”
He emphasized government’s position that while the military efforts are necessarily ongoing, it will remain willing to continue engaging in a meaningful dialogue which is not only about the release of hostages, but intended at a broader engagement on conflict mitigation.
He also appealed to the media to be more discerning in disseminating materials that serve no other purpose than to sabotage the ongoing efforts to end the insurgency and secure the release of the remaining Chibok and Dapchi girls.
Reacting to the news making the rounds concerning a supposed Sergeant in the Nigerian Army, named David Bako, who said he was part of an alleged conspiracy by the Government to abduct the Dapchi girls, the minister described the information as a disinformation and fake news, saying that there is no such soldier in Nigerian army.
“I can tell you categorically that this David Bako is fake.
“There is no such soldier in the Nigerian Army. There was no conspiracy anywhere. The intention of those behind the disinformation and fake news is to cause disaffection between Christians and Muslims, and between
Southerners and Northerners.”
“This Administration’s success in seeking an early release of the Dapchi girls has ruffled many feathers. It has upturned a lot of plans by naysayers,” he added.
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