Olusola Fabiyi, Olaleye Aluko and Justin Tyopuusu
The parents of the released Dapchi schoolgirls and the Federal Government may be set for a showdown on the plan of the government to send the released schoolgirls to continue their education at the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.
While the parents have vowed that their daughters would not return to the GGSTC, Dapchi, to continue their education, the Federal Government insisted the girls would resume normal academic activities this week in the school where the girls were abducted on February 19.
Boko Haram terrorists had released the girls dramatically on Wednesday in Dapchi while they were brought to Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
Five of the 110 girls, abducted on February 19, reportedly died of shock on the day of their abduction while one, Leah Sharibu, who was said to have refused to renounce Christianity, is still being held by the Islamic insurgents.
The Secretary, Abducted Dapchi Girls’ Parents Association, Mallam Bukar Kachalla, disclosed the parents’ position in a telephone interview with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday.
According to him, the parents have resolved to relocate the girls because they have lost confidence in the security arrangements in the town and the determination of the parents not to further put the lives of the girls in danger.
The parents’ position emerged a day after the Vice-Chancellor of Nigeria Turkish Nile University, Prof. Huseyin Sert, offered to award scholarships to the schoolgirls to pursue their education.
But the Federal Government said the freed girls would return to Dapchi and continue their education at the GGSTC this week.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday, also allayed the fears of parents concerning the schoolgirls.
But Kachalla stated, “We have decided that none of the girls released will go back to the school even if the government provides all the security in the world in the school.
“Our resolve is predicated on the fact that we have been having security (presence) in Dapchi for the past five years, but the security (operatives) were suddenly withdrawn; and 21days after, the town was attacked and the girls were abducted.
“Now, what kind of assurance do we have that even if they (government) provide security, they will still not withdraw it someday? So, we cannot afford to risk the lives of the girls again.”
On the tension in Dapchi following the news that the remaining girl being held in captivity by Boko Haram on religious ground, Miss Leah Sharibu, will be brought back, Kachalla blamed the military for the tension.
He said, “We got news again that Boko Haram (terrorists) were bringing the remaining girl and we were happy as usual, only for the military to cordon off the place where the insurgents dropped the other girls on Wednesday.
“They are preventing people from moving freely along the main road which passes through Dapchi to Yunusari and Niger Republic.
“We are told they want to engage the insurgents in crossfire when they bring the girl and that is what is causing tension in the town. Why would they want to engage the insurgents? Do they want to risk the life of the remaining girl?
“There is a heavy presence of security in and out of Dapchi – from the entry, there is security checkpoints up to the police station. There is also heavy security presence around the school area and movement of people have been restricted and people are really afraid.”
Leah, abducted alongside other 109 girls on February 19, was not among the girls released on Wednesday on the ground that she refused to renounce her Christian faith and wear hijab despite the pressure by her abductors.
Also, Yahaya Tarbutu and Aisha Bukar, two of the parents of the recently released Dapchi schoolgirls, said their daughters narrated bitter-sweet experiences to them after they were returned by the Boko Haram terrorists to the town.
Tarbutu, a 45-year-old farmer, who has two daughters and one niece among the rescued schoolgirls, told SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that his daughters would never return to the GGSTC.
The daughters are Fatima Tarbutu, 13; Amina Tarbutu, 14; and the niece, 15-year-old Maryam Ahmed.
The father added, “I saw all my three girls among the rescued girls. We spoke and they said they were very fine. One of my daughters has rashes on her hands and on her legs. They were taken to Damaturu, and then to Maiduguri, and then flown by an aircraft to Abuja.
“The girls are not back from Abuja. We are still expecting them in Dapchi. I’m not taking my girls back to that school where they were abducted. I’m going to change their school as soon as they come back. I don’t want to disclose the school where I’m taking them to.”
When asked if her girls had shared how the Boko Haram militants treated them, Tarbutu said, “We, the parents, didn’t have too much time to discuss with them. On how we found them, they (the terrorists) just brought them into town and left them beside the road. There was no police or army around at all. By the time I was going to my station in Geidam, somebody told me that he heard that some abducted girls had been returned to the town.
“We were the ones who took our girls to a hospital before they were taken to Damaturu.”
Another parent, 35-year-old Bukar said her daughter said the insurgents did not attack any of the girls. She said her daughter cried on her shoulders while she was also weeping.
Bukar said, “I am very happy. I took my daughter home where she had her bath. I then took her to a hospital. She said she was fine and no harm was done to her. There was no ailment on her, but she was very dirty. Her clothes were very dirty. She cried seriously when she saw me.”
Dapchi schoolgirls will return to their school –FG
But the Federal Government has dismissed the threat by Boko Haram members warning girls in Dapchi against returning to school.
The government said efforts were being made to return the recently released 104 students of the GGSTC to their town and school.
Mohammed said the girls might leave Abuja for Yobe on Sunday (today) in preparation for the resumption of academic activities in their school where they were abducted on February 19, 2018.
The information minister added, “We are not withdrawing the girls from their school. To the best of my knowledge, there is no plan to change their school. They are returning to their school where they will continue with their education.
“They are also likely going to leave Abuja tomorrow (today) as everything has been done to ensure their safety and the safety of others.”
Schoolgirls’ parents urge FG to secure Leah’s release
Also, parents of the released Dapchi schoolgirls have asked the Federal Government to ensure the unconditional release of Sharibu by the insurgents.
The Secretary of the ADGPA, Kachalla, told SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that no effort should be spared in ensuring the release of the remaining girl.
Kachala stated, “We want to thank Almighty Allah as well as Christians and Muslims across the country who devoted time to pray for the release of the girls. The prayers really worked and today, our tears have been wiped off. This was what all of us were looking forward to.
“My daughter, Aisha Kachalla, is among the girls taken to Abuja. We want to thank President Buhari for keeping to his words that our girls would be released to us. We are really happy.”
The District Head of Dapchi, Alhaji Kachalla Kamba, who spoke through his son, Ibrahim Kachalla, told one of our correspondents that the Dapchi community was overwhelmed with joy over the release of the girls.
He commended the Federal Government and the international community for their roles in ensuring the release of the girls.
Another parent, Alhaji Adamu Kontoma, also appreciated God for the safe return of the girls and called on the Federal Government to maintain security in schools in the region to give students confidence to pursue western education.
He said, “I want to thank all those who helped in one way or the other for the safe return of our girls especially President Muhammadu Buhari for all he did towards their release.
“For those that died, we pray that Allah will grant them rest and fair judgment. It is a thing of joy that most of the girls are now back and we thank everyone who contributed to this good news.
“We were crying, but today, most parents are laughing and are happy for the release of the girls. We are indeed very happy.”
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]