Dayo Oketola, Olusola Fabiyi, Friday Olokor, Success Nwogu, Gbenro Adeoye and Olaleye Aluko
As the search for the kidnapped Dapchi schoolgirls continues, a human rights activist, Aisha Wakil, has claimed that she was contacted by a Boko Haram faction that confirmed that it had the missing girls.
Wakil, who is popularly called Mama Boko Haram, was a member of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North, which was set up during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Wakil made the claim in a video interview with the News Agency of Nigeria that has gone viral on the social media, saying the terrorist group had made contact with her on Thursday. She is believed to have communication links with the leadership of the sect and also believed to have played some roles in negotiations between the Federal Government and Boko Haram insurgents that resulted in the release of persons kidnapped by the group in the past.
Earlier in the week, Wakil had pleaded with the abductors of the schoolgirls to release them so that they could reunite with their families.
But in the fresh video, Wakil said, “They are even the ones that called me and said Mama, we heard what you have said and told me that they are with the girls and they are going to release them.
“I begged of them and said please let this not be another 1,000-plus days of Chibok girls, and they laughed and said no. I asked them where I can come and stay with them (girls) for two days, but they did not say anything.
“I can assure Nigerians that so far they are with my son, Habib, and his friends; Habib is a nice guy, he is a very nice boy. He will not harm them, he will not touch them, and he will not kill them. He is going to listen to us, and so far, he indicated interest that he loves peace. And I love them for that and believe what they said on this.
“They will definitely give us the girls. All I am begging Nigerians is to calm down, be prayerful, everything will be over in God grace (sic).”
The Federal Government had on Tuesday released the names and other details of the 110 girls who had yet to be accounted for, following the recent attack on the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19. The missing girls are believed to have been kidnapped by the group.
In April 2014, 276 girls were similarly abducted in a school in Chibok, Borno State.
Search for missing girls extended to neighbouring countries -FG
Meanwhile, the ongoing search for the missing girls has been extended to the neighbouring countries, the Federal Government has said.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said top military and security officials on Thursday travelled to the North-East to add more urgency to the search, which has now been extended beyond the North-East.
The officials include the nation’s top military officer and Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Army Staff; Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Alhaji Lawal Daura.
Mohammed said these officials joined the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who had earlier relocated to the North-East, as well as the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), who had also visited the theatre.
The panel set up by the Federal Government to unravel the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the girls was inaugurated on Thursday by the NSA.
Our strategies leak to B’Haram, says DHQ
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said on Friday that the military henceforth would not disclose its strategies on the missing Dapchi schoolgirls to the media as such information got to the Boko Haram insurgents and gave them room to re-strategise.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig. –Gen. John Agim, who disclosed this in a statement on Friday, said the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, and Service Chiefs as well as the Director-General, Department of State Services, met in Maiduguri, Borno State, and reviewed the ongoing operation to rescue the Dapchi schoolgirls.
Agim said one of the recommendations after the meeting was that the military, henceforth, would discuss only its successes in the rescue operation, rather than its strategies.
The DDI said, “During the meeting, the pattern of information management in all the military operations was reviewed. It was sadly observed that the military operation strategies have always been in the media, thereby giving the terrorists an opportunity to re-strategise. It was recommended that, henceforth, the military will be communicating the successes rather than strategies.
“It is also very important to be mindful of speculations that could jeopardise the ongoing efforts as well as put the lives of the schoolgirls at risk. For instance, the speculation that fishermen and farmers have been employed by the military to search for the abducted girls is misleading. Even though the military is soliciting useful information to facilitate its operations, the fishermen and farmers have not been singled out for this assistance.”
JNI directs Imams to hold special prayers in mosques
Muslim clerics from across the country have, however, called for special prayers for the missing girls.
For instance, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar lll -led Jama’atu Nasril Islam has directed all Muslim preachers (Imams) to offer special prayers for the quick and safe rescue of the schoolgirls.
The Secretary-General of the JNI, Khalid Aliyu, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna that the body had directed all Imams to offer special prayers for the rescue of the girls.
Aliyu said the special prayers were necessary to seek divine intervention so that the case of the Dapchi girls does not end up like that of the Chibok schoolgirls.
He said, “Fervent observance of Adhkar (remembrance of Allah) should also be ventured into by all Muslims, as it is a vital tool for easing fears, tension and uncertainties such as the myriad security challenges bedevilling Nigeria.
“Similarly, supplications in Sujood (prostrating position) in all circumstances are also paramount.
“We implore all Muslims particularly Imams to continue Qunootun Nawazil (special prayers at calamitous periods in the last Rak’at of each obligatory prayer and non-obligatory prayers) seeking Allah’s intervention.”
Muslims in Yobe, Taraba, Nasarawa, Adamawa pray for girls’ rescue
Similarly, Muslims in Yobe, Nasarawa, Adamawa and Taraba states on Friday offered prayers for the quick rescue of the abducted schoolgirls.
In Yobe State, the Special Adviser to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam on Religious Affairs, Ustaz Babagana Mallakyari, told Saturday PUNCH that they were dedicating the day’s prayers to the quick recovery of the girls.
Mallakyari, who is also the Chief Imam of Mokas Mosque, Damaturu, said, “There is nothing more than prayers for now as far as this issue is concerned and that is why since last week, we have dedicated special prayers for the release of the girls.
“The federal and state governments are doing their best in terms of deployment of security for the search of the girls, but they need our prayers. I want to call on all to join in praying for the release of the girls.”
Also, the Fika Emirate Council in Yobe State on Friday directed all Imams, worshippers and mosques to commence rigorous prayers for the safe return of the girls.
In a statement issued in Potiskum and signed by the Assistant Secretary, Fika Emirate Council, Potiskum, Alhaji Ali Gimba Gonki, the Emirate said the prayers would commence immediately after Juma’at prayers at Fika Emirate Central Mosque in Potiskum.
The statement “urged all Muslims in the state to pray for the safe return of the girls.”
In Taraba State, the Muslim Council had directed all Muslims in the state to pray for a safe and timely rescue of the schoolgirls.
The Secretary-General of the council, Alhaji Chindo Mohammed, disclosed this on Friday in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents.
“What we normally do in situations like this is to direct adherents of Islam in the state to pray.
“This is not the first time we are doing this, we have been doing that and in the case of Dapchi, we have also directed our members to pray.
“I want to confirm to you that prayers for the quick rescue of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls have been going on in the state in the past days,” he said.
The Chief Imam, Issa Elele Central Mosque, Ilorin, Kwara State, Abubakar Aliyu-Kamal, also said that prayers were held during Friday’s Jumat for the release of the pupils.
He said, “Why should we not protect our youths today? If we do not protect our youths, we are creating a problem for the future of Nigeria.
“The Nigerian government should deploy more security operatives in that place so as to enhance the security of lives and property as well as achieve peace. Without peace, the nation cannot grow.
“We will pray for Allah’s intervention so that the abducted girls would be released and that they would return safely and peacefully. We will also pray for Yobe State so that peace and harmony will return in the place. We will also pray for Nigeria.”
The Deputy Chief Imam, Bekaji Central Mosque, Mohammed Lawal, also said prayers would be offered by Muslims in Adamawa State for the release of the girls, adding that religious leaders were duty bound to “pray for the success of everyone and peace in the society.”
“We are praying for the rescue of the Dapchi schoolgirls, the President, governors, and the remaining abducted Chibok girls,” he said.
In the same vein, the Modibbo Haruna Buhari Charity Organisation in Nasarawa State called for fervent special prayers by Nigerians for God’s intervention to end security challenges in the country.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of the organisation, Mr. Modibo Suleiman-Masaka, said, “My appeal is to the religious leaders and other Nigerians to offer special prayers for God’s intervention for an end to kidnapping, terrorism, frequent farmers/herdsmen clashes, among other security challenges in the country.”
The Chief Imam of North Bank in Makurdi, Benue State, Idris Musa, said, “Today, we pray for the release of the schoolgirls in Yobe and also the Chibok girls yet to be released.”
Also speaking, the Executive Chairman, Benue State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Sheik Ibrahim, said “We believe God and with prayers, everything is possible,” he said.
Dapchi girls have exposed dark sides of Buhari’s govt – CAN
However, the Christian Association of Nigeria has described the abduction of the schoolgirls as disgraceful, saying it “has exposed the dark sides of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
It, therefore, urged the Federal Government to solicit for international support in the fight against terrorism.
The organisation also called on the Federal Government to “interrogate the entire security apparatus in Nigeria with intent to detect moles and possible collaborators among the officers.”
The Christian body, in a statement issued by Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant (Media and Communication) to its President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, said the Dapchi incident had put Nigerians in a state of mourning about the unsecured future of schoolchildren, most especially the females, given the failure of the government to ensure the rescue of all the Chibok girls.
CAN said, “Our hearts go out to the parents of the abducted innocent schoolgirls as we pray for their safe return and reunion with their families. We call on all security agencies to intensify efforts in securing the release of the abducted girls in the national interest. For us, enough is enough as we demand an immediate end to the kidnapping of innocent girls and mindless killings being recorded across the country.”
Additional reports by Godwin Isenyo, Justin Tyopuusu and Johnson Babajide
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