A day after Yobe State authorities said some schoolgirls reported missing after a Boko Haram attack had been rescued by Nigerian soldiers, the Defence Headquarters has told PREMIUM TIMES it has no such information.
“We cannot confirm” the statement by Yobe State that some of the girls have been rescued, Defence spokesperson, John Agim, told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning.
Suspected Boko Haram operatives on Monday evening stormed the Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Bursari Local Government Area, Yobe State, a state government-owned school.
The insurgents reportedly carted away foodstuff and other valuables before kidnapping some of the girls at the school, according to witnesses.
Mr. Agim, a brigadier-general, said he could not give further details about the military’s intervention in the matter.
The comment, the first from the Nigerian military since the attack, comes as Nigerians and the international community press for more details of the incident.
Already, there are conflicting figures from the Yobe state government and the police about the number of girls that have not been found.
While the police told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday afternoon that only 30 out of the total 906 students at the school could not be located, Yobe government said 50 girls were still missing as at the same time.
Yobe State said in another statement Wednesday night that some girls were rescued and were with the Nigerian Army. Tje statement did not give any figure.
“The Yobe State Government hereby informs the public that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them,” Abdullahi Bego, a Yobe government spokesperson, said in the statement.
“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army,” he added.
But nearly 24 hours later, neither the military, which the state government said was in charge of the girls, nor the police could confirm that the girls were actually rescued from Boko Haram.
PREMIUM TIMES reached Yobe police commissioner, Sunmonu Abdulmaliki, but an aide who answered his phone said the police had no information about the rescue.
“There’s nothing we can confirm,” the aide said. He said the police would be working with a team of three ministers that President Muhammadu Buhari sent on Wednesday day to travel to Yobe.
“We hope that after the visit by the delegation, the picture would be clearer,” he added.
Mr. Bego did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments on why the military and the police could not corroborate his statement that some girls were rescued.
Some military sources who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday afternoon said some of the girls who were said to have been rescued could be those who fled the attack into nearby bushes