‘We got suspicious when he began dribbling us,’…how irate Dapchi residents booed Yobe Gov., rained stones on his convoy for contradictory stance on abducted students
Since Boko Haram members sacked Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi, Busari Local Government Area of Yobe State on Monday and whisked away yet-to-be-ascertained number of students, the area has not known peace.
Following the attack, the State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam had in a statement issued on his behalf by his spokesman, Abdullahi Bego on Wednesday calmed frayed nerves of some families of the abducted students, claiming some of the them were rescued by men of the Nigerian Army.
“Some of the students of Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army,” he had been quoted as saying in the statement.
“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army. We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course.”
But on Thursday, Gaidam made a dramatic volte-face on his earlier claim that some of the kidnapped girls had been rescued when he visited the area.
Irked by the governor’s contradictory stance, residents of the Dapchi had reportedly threw stones and dangerous objects at his convoy, booing him in the process.
According to media sources, the governor arrived the community at noon and made for the palace of the village head where he had meeting with traditional leaders in the area. At the meeting, he was said to have informed them of the truth of the situation.
However, the traditional rulers, it was gathered, had insisted that Gaidam should tell residents who had gathered outside the palace while the meeting was on, the reality on ground.
A resident of the area identified as Abdullahi Dapchi said they lost patience when they discovered Gaidam was trying hide the truth of the situation from them.
“When Gaidam began speaking, we were calm. We followed all that he said with assurances that the situation was under control,” Abdullahi was quoted as saying by The Cable.
“But we got suspicious when he began dribbling us. You know how these politicians are. He said we should cooperate with the government that they were doing their best. We asked him about the situation and he said none of the students had been rescued.
“At that point, some parents broke down in tears, some even collapsed and before you knew it, the atmosphere was chaotic. The governor had to be ferried away by his security operatives but the mob went after the vehicles in his convoy.
“The peace that we have been enjoying in this community was disrupted.”
He went on to state that soldiers brought the situation under control by firing shots into the air, for the crowd to disperse, but noted that the protest resurfaced immediately the soldiers left the area.
Abdullahi added: “They blocked major roads, chanting anti-government songs and placing curses on Boko Haram.
“They demanded the immediate release of the students and said they were not interested in how government would achieve that.”
The earlier tension-soaked atmosphere later became calm when three ministers – Lai Mohammed (Information), Mansur Dan Ali (Defence) and Khadija Bukar Abba, minister of state for foreign affairs – later arrived in two helicopters.
Addressing residents of the community, Mohammed stressed the need to avoid any act capable of destabilizing peace in the area, assuring that government would leave no stone unturned to rescue the abducted girls.
The Information Minister, however, noted that the actual number of the missing schoolgirls would be known when parents come forward with complaint of their wards.
He said: “On the issue of the number of missing girls, we cannot give what we are not sure of, until we hear from their parents, we cannot say this is the number.”