Many Yobe State schoolgirls that went missing after Boko Haram insurgents stormed their school Monday night were rescued by the military.
Some were also rescued by the military, according to residents and state government officials.
They were said to have been rescued around Jilli and Muwarti villages on the border with Borno State.
Daily Trust learnt last night that those rescued by the troops were taken to Gaidam town for a medical check-up from where they would be transported to Damaturu, the state capital.
Residents of Gaidam celebrated the rescue and commended the troops.
The Director-General, Press Affairs to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, Abdullahi Bego, who issued a statement last night, said more of the girls had been rescued by the military.
“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army,” he said, adding “We would provide more details about their number and condition in due course.
He said the governor was pleased with the gallantry and hard work of the Nigerian Army involved in the operation adding that he was monitoring the situation closely and would make a statement in due course.
Bego in an earlier statement yesterday said during the attack, the students were helped by their teachers to escape through the night to the surrounding bush and villages as the terrorists stormed the town last Monday.
“Out of the 926 students in the school, over 50 are still unaccounted for as of the time of this statement. However, the Yobe State Government has continued to receive information about some of the girls being found in the general area to which they escaped,” he said.
Villagers to the rescue
A source in the school said some of the students who returned were rescued by villagers in bushes around Dapchi town.
“You know, some of the children trekked 15 to 20 kilometres in the bush to save their lives. We also received calls from Fulani settlements that they are bringing more students they found in the bush,” he said.
He said there was no record of dead among the students so far. “Only one of them had snake bite and she was treated locally and would be taken to the Specialist Hospital in Damaturu for more treatment,” he said.
‘Number of missing down to 46’
The number of missing students following the attack at the Government Girls Technical Collage Dapchi in Yobe state has dropped from 94 to 46, the state Commissioner of Education, Mohammed Lamin, said this in a telephone interview.
“This has brought down the number of missing students from 94 after the Tuesday’s head count to 48. We are still hopeful that more would be found soon,” he said.
The commissioner spoke before the news of the rescue of the some of schoolgirls by troops.
No case of abduction established – Police
The Police Commissioner in Yobe State, Abdumaliki Sunmonu, said yesterday that 111 students of the school were earlier missing after the night attack by the suspected members of Boko Haram on Monday.
He spoke to newsmen in Damaturu yesterday after a meeting with Governor Gaidam.
He revealed that as at Tuesday night, they had a head count and 815 students were present in the school.
He said: “815 students were physically seen in the school out of 926. We left in the night yesterday; they started trooping in one and two. Right now, I am waiting for the school authority to give me how many has been added to the figure we had yesterday.
“From us (Police), no case of abduction has been established, and from the military, they had not told me any because it is a joined operation led by the military,” he said.
How Boko Haram whisked away some of the girls
Credible sources in Dapchi, the town where the abduction took place, said the Boko Haram terrorists had actually whisked away some of the girls.
An uncle to one of the missing girls said they had established that some of the girls were loaded into a Tata truck by Boko Haram fighters who disguised as soldiers.
He said his niece simply identified as Maryam was yet to be found and called on authorities to dispatch rescue experts to help bring back the girls.
“The whole area where the girls fled to is porous, I fear some of them might die because of thirst in the desert,” he said.
A source at the Damaturu Specialists Hospital said few of the girls found in the wilderness had been taken to the hospital.
“Six of the distressed girls are being treated at the Specialists Hospital; three nurses from the Dapchi General Hospital who also sustained injuries while fleeing from the pandemonium are also being treated. This is beside five men who were also taken to the facility,” he said.
A source in Dapchi said the incident at the girls’ school was “saddening, traumatic and unfortunate. While the insurgents invaded the school firing gun shots, with some targeting where the foodstuffs were kept, others dressed in military uniforms parked their Tata trucks outside the perimeter fence of the school.
“They pretended to be soldiers and beaconed on some of the fleeing girls. They ended up going with them through the vast desert that leads to parts of Geidam and Yunusari local government areas,” he said.
Another source in Gaidam said the terrorists mobilized from locations around River Yobe that runs through Yunusari Local Government Area that shares borders with Niger Republic and northern fringes of Borno State.
He said the Boko Haram terrorists relocated to the place after a serious offensive by Nigerian troops around the shores of the Lake Chad.
“We keep saying that they are living around Bulabulin, Buhari, Alagarno, Mattari and Kayaderi, Puchimeram, Bultuwa, Ngaltra, Matari and Kadar lamba among other places,” he said.
He said the terrorists are now “extremely mobile and keep moving with their captives unless something urgent is done.
“They don’t stay in one place, they move easily to avoid the attack and I am sure if the military acts very fast, they would rescue most of the girls because the terrorists do not have the luxury of keeping abductees, they are looking for food because they are in distress,” he said.
‘How my daughter returned home’
One of the secondary school girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents at Dapchi, Yobe State, has returned home, according to her father, Modu Auduye, a staff of Borno State Rehabilitation Centre, Bulumkutu, Maiduguri.
Hajja Halima A. Karam, 16, a student of SS 2 at the secondary school, lives with her grandfather, Alhaji Karam, at Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area, Yobe State.
Modu Auduye told Daily Trust on phone that his daughter succeeded returning to her grandfather’s house at Dapchi (not Bulumkutu, Maiduguri, as earlier said) after falling off the Toyota Hilux pickup van into which they were crammed, along with her mates.
After falling off the van, according to Modu Auduye, who can only provide sketchy information now, Hajja Halima ran to a road where she was assisted by passers-by at about 5pm of Tuesday.
He said she is now safe at her grandfather’s house at Dapchi.
Daily Trust Newspaper