THE recently released school girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists from their school in Dapchi, Yobe State, returned with skin diseases, the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, has said.
Mr. Daura said this was because they were unable to have their bath for a month.
He stated this while presenting the released 105 school girls and two primary school pupils to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
He also disclosed that four of the students were found with broken limbs but did not say how they sustained the injuries.
Daura said upon their release, the girls were taken to a DSS medical facility where they were examined and those found with ailments treated.
“On release, the victims were taken into the DSS medical facility and were put through programmes to give them mental stability. As such, they were given psychological, mental evaluation conducted by trained specialists.
“About four were discovered to have broken limbs and were sent for X-ray. Almost all of them had one skin infection or the other, having not taken bath for over a month.
“They have been medically examined and those with ailments were treated. The measures were to ensure that they were in good health,” he said.
The DSS boss, who said six of the schoolgirls were yet to be accounted for, noted that the insurgents’ only condition for the release of the girls was cessation of hostilities and temporary ceasefire to enable them return the girls at the point they picked them.
He said they requested for assurances that the government security forces would keep to this, noting that the exercise was arduous and quite challenging.
Daura expressed regrets that the utterances of some unqualified government officials nearly jeopardised the rescue efforts.
He stated that security’s engagement with the insurgents was determined by some critical factors but there were difficulties because the terrorists were factionalised and also holding influence in their guerrilla-controlled enclaves.
“The sensitivity of the operation and some uncertainties surrounding it, particularly routes to be used, nature of transportation, realisation and concern that the girls were not kept in one place, issues of encountering military checkpoints within the theatre and, indeed, keeping the operation on strictly the ‘principles of need-to-know’ made the whole exercise more complicated.
“Beyond the release of the abducted girls, our primary interest for engaging in the dialogue was informed by the following: permanent, possible cessation of hostilities; discussing the fate of the arrested insurgents and innocent Nigerian citizens being held hostage and possibility of granting amnesty to repentant insurgents.
“These presently seem problematic because the insurgents are factionalised, while holding various spheres of influence in their guerrilla-controlled enclaves.
“The negative impact of social media on otherwise classified operations and, of course, some of the utterances of the government functionaries who were not competent to comment on the issues posed challenges that almost marred the rescue efforts.
“However, despite these challenges, the Service has managed to successfully conclude the operation leading to the release of the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls that are now before you, Mr President.”
On the way forward, the DSS boss recommended: “In view of the nation’s experience through these years of insurgency, it is humbly suggested that efforts be sustained towards ensuring the release of all abducted persons in the North East Theatre of Operation; improving the strategic plan for the safety of schools in vulnerable locations, using all available national assets; and improving on the coordination efforts among security agencies to avoid future incidents.