Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, on Monday denied saying on a television programme that the 110 pupils of Government Girls Science Technical College Dapchi Yobe State kidnapped by Boko haram would be rescued in two weeks.
The minister issued the denial in a statement by his spokesman, Col. Tukur Gusau.
It reads: “The attention of the Honourable Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali has been drawn to a news item currently circulating on some news media platforms quoting him as saying on Dateline Abuja, a Channels Television interview programme which was aired at the weekend that the abducted Dapchi schoolgirls will regain freedom in two weeks.
“It has therefore become necessary to put the minister’s comment on the issue in proper context in view of the expected public interest and possible mischief that may be created in certain partisan quarters which may have been generated since the interview was aired.
“It should be stated that when he was asked to give a timeline for the girls’ rescue, the minister emphasized that government had intensified efforts and deployed considerable manpower sufficient enough to raise hopes but being a purely operational matter, it would be absolutely unfeasible and impracticable to give a specific timeline for the eventual freedom of the abducted girls.
‘’We will ensure that whatever means to rescue these girls will be done to get the girls…This type of issue has no timeline. Even if it has, we can only give it (timeline) to the forces, i.e. by these means we want you to give us an output of what you’ve been doing, but for this kind of issues you cannot say by this time you must bring them by so (and) so date’’.
He added: ‘’It can be earlier, may be a week, it can be two weeks, but we are on it, and I’m telling you with all sense of sincerity that we are closing in on them’’.
The minister was mindful of the prevailing high public anxiety over the girls’ safety so he was very careful in answering the interviewer’s question about giving a specific timeline because of the delicate nature of the issue. The timeline he talked about was strictly an operational timeline which was to determine the progress of the ongoing search by the defence forces but definitely not a timeline for the girls’ freedom because of the delicate emotional fallout it could have on the girls’ parents and loved ones.