Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, says the registration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should be withdrawn for claiming that the Dapchi abduction was stage-managed.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Sunday, Mohammed said the Federal Government agreed to a temporary ceasefire with Boko Haram to accommodate the return of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls.
He explained that contrary to conspiracy theories that the ease of the girls’ return by Boko Haram, without a challenge by the military, indicated the said abduction was stage-managed, the government, unknown to many, had been involved in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time.
“The talks helped to secure the release of the police officers’ wives and the University of Maiduguri lecturers recently. And the talks did not stop thereafter,” he said.
“Therefore, we were able to leverage on the wider talks when the Dapchi girls were abducted. As I said earlier, the insurgents decided to return the girls to where they picked them from, as a goodwill gesture.
“All they demanded was a ceasefire that will grant them a safe corridor to drop the girls. This is not new. Even in larger war situations, safe corridors are usually created for humanitarian and other purposes.
“Consequently, a week-long ceasefire was declared, starting from Monday, 19 March. That is why the insurgents were able to drop the girls. This counters the conspiracy theories being propounded in some quarters concerning why it was so easy for the insurgents to drop off the girls without being attacked by the military.”
He said six Dapchi girls were still unaccounted for, but did not say whether they were among those who reportedly died of stress when they were being brought by the insurgents.
His words: “Gentlemen, a total of 111 girls were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary and Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi on 19 Feb. 2018. That means one student was not captured on the list of 110 abducted students that was compiled by the school, on the basis of which the Federal Government gave the number of abducted schoolgirls as 110.
“Also kidnapped were two other persons who are not students of the college. They are a primary schoolboy who came to the school to sell sachet water and another primary schoolgirl. That brings the total number of abducted persons on that day to 113.
“So far, a total of 107 persons, comprising 105 Dapchi schoolgirls and the two non-students, have been released by the insurgents.
“Six Dapchi schoolgirls are yet unaccounted for. All efforts will be made to secure their release.”
Reacting to PDP’s allegation that the abduction and release of the girls were stage-managed, Mohammed said the party had failed both in power and in opposition, and called for the withdrawal of its registration as a political party.
“There should be a new criterion for withdrawing the registration of a party like the PDP, which has failed both as a ruling and an opposition party! If a party cannot rule and cannot be in opposition, what else can it do?” he asked.
Reacting to claim by one Sergeant David Bako that the whole episode of the abduction and release was scripted, the Minister said there was no such a personnel in the Nigerian Army.
“I can tell you categorically that this David Bako is fake. There is no such soldier in the Nigerian Army,” Mohammed maintained.
“There was no conspiracy anywhere. The intention of those behind the disinformation and fake news is to cause disaffection between Christians and Muslims, and between southerners and northerners.
“This Administration’s success in seeking an early release of the Dapchi girls has ruffled many feathers. It has upturned a lot of plans by naysayers. They have not been able to sleep since the girls came back.
“Their campaign to unseat President Buhari is fuelling their desperation. Nigerians should prepare to see more avalanche of disinformation and fake news. But they should not lend any credibility to such reports. They belong to the trash can!”