|The abducted Dapchi schoolgirls after their release by Boko Haram|
Contrary to official claims, the abduction of 113 students of Government Girls Technical School, Dapchi, Yobe State, by Boko Haram insurgents on February 19, 2018, was not a surprise operation, one of the recently released victims has said.
The girl, debriefed by Justice For Jos, a US-based group led by Barrister Emmanuel Ogebe, revealed details of their experiences.
According to source, Justice For Jos carried out a question and answer session with the unnamed schoolgirl, in which she related how a soldier confessed that he and his colleagues witnessed the abduction but did not attempt to rescue the girls because of fear of the insurgents.
The girl said: “On our way to Abuja (to see President Buhari) we asked one of the soldiers “where were (they) when Boko Haram abducted us?” He answered that they were seeing us while Boko Haram was taking us. And the reason why they didn’t follow us is that Boko Haram will kill them.
Then one of the girls asked him, “you were seeing us being taken away, what is the use of your work?” And he kept silent.”
Below are highlights of the debrief as contained in the report by Justice For Jos:
Q. Were you the ones cooking or did they cook for you?
Dapchi Schoolgirl: We are the ones cooking for ourselves because they said “these children may say we will poison them.” We eat 30 bags of rice plus maize grits in our three weeks stay.
Five of us died on our way going. They only gave breakfast and dinner no lunch. The five of us that died were buried in one grave – all of them in the same day. And they advised us not to reveal that we were the ones that killed them. But we said that we didn’t do anything to them. They just died on their own.
Q. Did they wash them before burying them?
Dapchi Schoolgirl: No, they were just buried with their blood like that and they just pushed sand on them.
Q. But the governor said that you were in Gaidam and even brought one Canter Truck that they said it was the car that took you?
Dapchi Schoolgirl: It was all lies; we passed Gaidam. Boko Haram even asked us “where is the army?” and we said there is no army in Dapchi. They said “it’s a lie there is.”
On our way to Abuja (to see President Buhari) we asked one of the soldiers “where were (they) when Boko Haram abducted us?” He answered that they were seeing us while Boko Haram was taking us. And the reason why they didn’t follow us is that Boko Haram will kill them. Then one of the girls asked him, “you were seeing us being taken away, what is the use of your work?” And he kept silent. “You only know corruption”, she said.
CHRISTIAN SCHOOLGIRL LEAH SHARIBU WAS SUBJECTED TO IMMENSE PRESSURE ON MULTIPLE LEVELS
Q. Where is that Christian girl (Leah)?
Dapchi Schoolgirl: We left her there.
Dapchi Schoolgirl: It’s because she refuses to be a Moslem.
Q. Was she crying while you were leaving?
Dapchi Schoolgirl: Yes, I even begged Leah to accept Islam but she refused and said she can’t live with herself if she converted and came back. So she will not – that it’s better to be killed by Boko Haram.
There’s one old man from Damaturu who is also a Boko Haram that brings us water. He also asked Leah to convert to Islam but she said “no”. Whereby the news reached to their commander that there is one Christian girl that refused to accept Islam so they brought her before him. She repeated the same thing, and he said “we will kill you”. He showed her one temporary zinc and ordered her to go and sit inside.
BOKO HARAM HOLDING HUMANITARIAN WORKERS
Dapchi Schoolgirl: But on our way from Dapchi with the terrorists while going some of us were praying that “let us get into an accident so that we will all die.” Boko Haram captured three Red Cross staff. They showed us where they kept them but didn’t allow us to see them. They said they will hand us to Red Cross but later they changed their minds and decided to bring us back by themselves. They said that they will release us in exchange with two hundred of their members. They said Buhari said something when he came to Dapchi.
After giving the report of the debriefing, Justice For Jos made the following observations:
1. It appears that the government did not utilize the traditional international interlocutors in this case which may explain the miscommunications and general suspicion surrounding the Dapchi mass abduction. The government should use trusted actors with credible track records to avoid the current credibility crisis its current saga has engendered.
2. The government could do much better in managing these situations from lessons learned in the Chibok episode up to the present. While some of the girls who escaped abduction were scheduled for relocating to another school yesterday, it is unclear what plans are in the pipeline for the recently released girls.
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