Parents Of Slain Dapchi Girls Insist Abduction Could Have Been Averted

HumAngle visited the almost deserted town of Dapchi, a trip that is arguably the first of its kind since the schoolgirls’ abduction in 2018. We spoke to several parents of students who were abducted, including those whose children died in the course of the abduction.

On Feb. 19, 2018, at around 5:30 p.m., militants of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) arrived at Govt. Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, in Nigeria’s northeastern Yobe State. They abducted a total of 115 schoolgirls from their dormitories in what has now been known as the Dapchi abduction.

HumAngle embarked on a reporting trip to the now ghost town of Dapchi, a trip that is arguably the first of its kind since the abduction occurred, and spoke to several parents of the victimised students, including those whose children died during the kidnapping. We also spoke to the students themselves, who shared accounts of the events of that day as well as the entire month they were in abduction. 

The investigation examines the days preceding the abduction, and the events of the one month of wait before the girls were driven back to Dapchi by their captors. It also corroborates the finding that though local intelligence had shown with certainty at about 12:39 p.m. of that day that an attack was imminent, security agencies did nothing to avert it nor to evacuate the students.

Parents of some of the students, who lived in nearby towns and so could not go to get their children from the school, told HumAngle that they had gotten information about the terrorists’ movements and had repeatedly tried to convey the information to security agencies in the hopes that the abduction would be avoided. However, nothing was done. 

“Before 6 p.m., they had abducted these children and loaded them onto their trucks like livestock. Our children were wailing and we could hear them from the distance because they passed through the back of this town,” one of the parents told us. “We heard them as they were wailing. Yet, the government tried to deny, at some point, that the abduction ever happened. Because we are nobodies. Because it is not their children that were abducted.”

HumAngle found that while the road leading to Dapchi and indeed the town itself had been heavily guarded by the military in the months leading up to the attack, the Nigerian Army had withdrawn its troops just days – and in some accounts, hours – before the abduction, reportedly because the town had seemed safe enough for such a withdrawal. 

HumAngle also spoke with security analysts to understand the various situations where troops may withdraw from a location under attack despite the level of fatality likely to be recorded. 

The reports will be published in the course of the coming days, starting from the fourth anniversary of the girls’ release — Monday, March 21.

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Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu

Hauwa Shaffii Nuhu is the Managing Editor at HumAngle. She researches and investigates terrorism & insurgency and its human cost and aftermath, particularly how they affect transitional justice issues, displacement, migration, and women. She is a 2023 Pulitzer Centre grantee, a 2023 International Women Media Fund awardee, and a 2022 Storify Africa fellow, among several others.

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