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Police ‘arrest’ Dapchi residents protesting abduction of schoolgirls

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The police in Yobe State are arresting people who were believed to have engineered a protest against Ibrahim Gaidam, Governor of the State, on Thursday.

This is according to Stephanie Hegarty, BBC’s correspondent in Nigeria, who has been covering the abduction of a yet-to-be ascertained number of students from Government Girls Science and Technology College, Dapchi, Yobe State, by Boko Haram on Monday night.

“A parent in Dapchi called me to say he’s in hiding after an order has been issued for his arrest. One parent already arrested. For attacking convoy ostensibly, though they fear gov trying to prevent them from talking to the media. Police not answering calls,” Hergarty wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Earlier, Hegarty had tweeted that all efforts to get the authorities to comment on the true situation of things in Dapchi were met with “a wall of silence”.

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Replying to Hergarty’s tweet, Aisha Yesufu, co-leader of the Bring Back our Girls campaign group, said that the Buhari administration had become notorious for clamping down on the media from reporting the true situation of the Boko Haram crisis.

On Wednesday night, 48 hours after the girls were abducted, a statement from the Yobe State government announced that soldiers had rescued many of the abducted girls.

Residents of the community told reporters that soldiers were heard blaring their vehicle horns driving excitedly in apparent celebration of the purported rescue, but all that turned out false.

When Ibrahim Gaidam, Governor of Yobe State, visited Dapchi community on Thursday, the people were said to have protested angrily after he told them that none of the girls had been rescued and that they should “keep praying”.

The hall where the meeting took place became chaotic and the Governor was whisked into his car by his security detail and he left the community. Angry residents threw stones and sticks at his convoy damaging some of the vehicles.

Later on Thursday, three ministers sent to the State by President Muhammadu Buhari arrived the state and addressed some of the affected families. But their main message was for the people to remain hopeful as government was on top of the situation.

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In fact, Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture and leader of the delegation, which includes Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence, said the attack was just a dying Boko Haram trying to embarrass the Nigerian government.

“We must understand that these are they dying days of the Boko Haram and what they intend to do is to embarrass the government because they have been degraded, they have been pushed out of Sambisa forest,” Mohammed said.

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