Nigeria’s army and police on Monday publicly disagreed over the security arrangements that were in place in the northeastern town where 110 girls were abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants.
In the wake of the abduction, Ibrahim Gaidam, the Governor of Yobe State said the withdrawal of the military from Dapchi town was responsible for the Boko Haram attack and abduction of female students from Government Girls Science Technical College.
The army, keen to ‘set the record straight for the benefit of posterity’ issued a statement in which it acknowledged that soldiers were indeed withdrawn from Dapchi, in Yobe state, before the girls were seized from their school in the town by armed insurgents on Feb. 19.
“Troops earlier deployed in Dapchi were redeployed to reinforce troops at Kanama, following attacks on troops,” army spokesman Onyema Nwachukwu said in an emailed statement.
Kanama is a town near the border with Niger some 120 km (75 miles) from Dapchi.
“This was on the premise that Dapchi has been relatively calm and peaceful and the security of Dapchi town was formally handed over to the Nigeria police division located in the town,” he said. No details were given of when the redeployment took place.
However, Yobe state police commissioner, Sumonu Abdulmaliki, later issued a statement saying the claim of a handover was “untrue, unfounded and misleading”.
“There was no time that the military informed the police of their withdrawal, consulted or handed over their locations in Dapchi town to the police,” he said in the emailed statement.
The attack was one of the largest abductions since the Chibok kidnappings of 2014 in which more than 250 girls were taken by the Islamist militant group. It has prompted questions about the ability of security forces to fight insurgents which the government has repeatedly said have been defeated.
President Muhammadu Buhari acknowledged on Monday that the girls had been abducted and said the government was determined to rescue them. The authorities had previously referred to the girls, not seen since the attack on their school, as missing.
“Let me clearly reiterate the resolve of this administration to ensure all persons abducted by the insurgents are rescued or released safely,” Buhari said in comments broadcast by state television.
He said security agencies had been ordered to make every effort to return “the abducted girls to their families”.
“We will not rest on our oars in the search and rescue of the abducted school girls and any other persons held captive by the terrorists,” – Col Onyema Nwachukwu
Deputy Director Army Public Relations
Theater Command Operation Lafia Dole pic.twitter.com/uwSKmhqlKH
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) February 26, 2018
Our short, medium and long term security action plans have been yielding positive results, we appeal for calm on the missing school girls as all Security Chiefs in the country are on top of the situation- FPRO CSP Jimoh MOSHOOD pic.twitter.com/drxYkw2nyl
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) February 26, 2018