© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Defence minister: Didn’t I tell you we’d rescue Dapchi girls within two months?
Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence, says the release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls was the result of President Muhammadu Buhari’s support to security agencies.
Speaking with journalists after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council(FEC) meeting at the State House in Abuja, Dan-Ali recalled how he had assured the public that the girls would be rescued within a maximum of two months.
“Basically, I want to speak on the impression that people had that we cannot get the girls released. If you can remember the last interview I had with Channels Television, I said in two weeks, two months or less we are going to get the girls released and this has happened,” Dan-Ali boasted.
“So this is as result of the efforts of Mr. President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces for the support he has been giving us and the output is showing now.”
Speaking earlier, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, said the girls would be quarantined and psychologically counselled before they are allowed to return to their schools.
He said the girls were already at the General Hospital in Dapchi where they would undergo medical tests.
“As I speak to you now they are in General Hospital in Dapchi and I’m sure the counsellors are there with them,” he said.
“Just as we did when we had the first set and second set of release of the Chibok girls, they will be quarantined and psychologically counselled before they go back to their schools.”
Mohammed added that insurgency and armed violence was not a peculiar to Nigeria alone as many other countries, including much more developed ones, are facing similar challenges.
“You see, we must look at this thing in context,” he said.
“If you look at other countries like the US, [in] Florida, you saw how gunmen entered the school and killed about 17 pupils. Insurgency all over the world is a global issue and the government must always be on its toes.
“One of the things we have done today is that we have tried to secure the schools and there are even efforts on parts of government to merge some schools, schools that are far-flung.”
The Florida school shooting Mohammed referred to was actually carried out by a lone 19-year-old gunman, Nikolas Cruz, not “gunmen” as Mohammed claimed. Also, the incident was not a case of insurgency as he claimed. Gun violence has been a nagging issue in the US over the years.
Mohammed insisted that “no money changed hands” in the negotiations that led to the release of the girls.
“It was agreed that there would be no force; there would be no confrontation; that was why it was possible for them to drop the girls,” he said.
“It was part of the agreement that we will release the girls; there will be no violence or confrontation. And don’t forget that the lives of these children are much more important to us than any cheap victory.
“The girls were released unconditionally, no money changed hands. They only had one condition, that they will return them to where they picked them.”
The Federal Government has consistently denied claims that it paid huge amounts of money to secure the release of 82 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls in 2017, and the subsequent release of 13 other Boko Haram hostages early this year.