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Dapchi residents attack Yobe Governor for lying about girls' rescue

Angry residents showed their displeasure by booing the governor and throwing stones at his convoy.

The militant group had invaded the school in Dapchi town in Bursari local government area of the state on Monday, February 19, 2018, and made away with loads of food items from the school, sending students and staff running into the bushes for safety.

Conflicting reports of number of missing girls

A head count of the students on Tuesday, February 20, had revealed that at least 94 schoolgirls were missing.

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However, there were conflicting reports by the Commissioner of Police, Abdulmaliki Sumonu, who said 111 girls were unaccounted for, while the state government claimed later on Wednesday, February 21, that only over 50 were missing.

On Wednesday evening, Governor Gaidam's spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, said "some of the girls... have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.

"The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army."

Gaidam says no girls rescued

When Governor Gaidam visited the community on Thursday, February 22, he made a dramatic turnaround and said none of the missing students have been rescued by the army. He told family members of the students to keep praying that the girls should be found.

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He had addressed concerned parents at the palace of the district head in Dapchi town saying there's no confirmation the girls have been abducted by terrorists.

He said, "Until now, we have no certainly that these boys (Boko haram) have taken these girls. We should keep praying so that God reveal the whereabouts of the girls.

"We directed the soldiers and security personnel to go anywhere the girls are said to have been seen and find them.

"I am together with the GOC, Brig-Gen Garba. His men went to places that the girls were said to have been sighted but, for the past two days, wherever the troops go, they were only told that it was a convoy of Boko haram passing through the villages but they didn't see any girls."

Angered residents showed their displeasure by booing the governor and throwing stones at his convoy of vehicles, destroying seven of them with shattered rear windscreen and banged up body parts.

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Some of the governor's aides, other government officials, as well as a cameraman were reportedly injured from the attack as the governor's security team dispersed the crowd with tear gas.

A journalist in the convoy told The Punch, "We were in fear as the residents continued to throw stones to protest against government's handling of the girls' abduction.

"The angry residents ignored the tear gas as they vandalised seven vehicles in our convoy.

"From the little information that we got, they were angry that the Yobe State Government deceived Nigerians that the schoolgirls had been rescued when nobody was rescued.

"Some of them told the governor to present the girls that were rescued."

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The governor left the town immediately after the incident.

Government apologises for misinformation about rescue

Later on Thursday, the state government issued an official statement to apologise for the misinformation that some girls had been rescued by the army.

The statement read, "The public may recall that we issued a statement last night in which we announced that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi who went missing after Boko Haram terrorists had stormed their school last Monday were rescued by officers and men of the Nigerian Army who are currently executing the war against the Boko Haram Insurgents.

"We issued the statement on the basis of information provided by one of the security agencies that is involved in the fight against Boko Haram and which we had no reason to doubt.

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"We have now established that the information we relied on to make the statement was not credible. The Yobe State Government apologises for that.

"His Excellency Governor Ibrahim Gaidam was in Dapchi today where he met with community leaders and the Principal and staff of the Girls' College.

"The governor also addressed the parents of some of the schoolgirls that are still unaccounted for where he told them to pray and exercise patience as the government and security agencies at all levels continue the work to address the unfortunate situation.

"His Excellency Governor Gaidam has also directed Education Ministry officials and the school administration to work closely with the security agencies to establish the actual number of girls that are still unaccounted for and to contact parents and the community for possible information that could be useful in the investigation.

"His Excellency Governor Gaidam shares deeply and personally in the grief about the unfortunate event at the Girls' College and, under his leadership, the Yobe State Government will continue to do everything necessary in partnership with security agencies and the federal government to address the situation."

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Attack on all-girls school

According to accounts by residents, the terrorists invaded the town around 7pm in over 18 gun trucks mounted with high caliber weapons.

Their loud shooting alerted residents, school students and staff who ran to seek cover in the surrounding bushes as the school's food store was successfully raided.

Troops of the Nigerian Army later arrived to repel the attack, aided by military jets.

A school source told ThisDay that the militants targeted the students as they went into their hostel during the attack.

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It is unknown whether the girls are missing as a result of abduction by Boko Haram or have simply failed to return after fleeing from the attack, with some reported to have arrived at their homes safely.

The school has been closed down for a week pending investigations.

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