Nigerian dailies share false claim on rescue of Zamfara schoolgirls

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ON Sunday, February 28, 2021, at least two major Nigerian dailies claimed in separate reports that 317 students from the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State, abducted on Friday had been released.

These national dailies are known to have one of the largest circulations in the country.

The claim, has, however, been shared multiple times online and also generated different reactions.

THE CLAIM

Abducted Zamfara schoolgirls have been released.

False news on Zamfara Schoolgirls.

THE FINDINGS

On Friday, February 26, 2021, abductors took 317 secondary school students from the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State in Nigeria.

The abduction is coming following a series of kidnapping by bandits and insurgents in different states in the country.

Following the incident, the Zamfara state government and security operatives deployed a search and rescue team.

As part of the rescue efforts, the police deployed two helicopters to assist in the search and rescue mission.

Few days prior to the kidnapping incident, Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) had deployed 275 special Police Officers to address the rising cases of banditry and other forms of insecurity in the state.

The Punch and The Nation Newspapers, among other dailies, reported that these students have been released.

Has the students been found as claimed by the national dailies?

The FactCheckHub reached out to Muhammed Salisu, the Police spokesperson for the Zamfara state Police command but he debunked the claim.

“Honestly, I’m not aware of that story,” Salisu said.

“I don’t know where they got the story from but if there is anything like that, both the government and police will speak about it.”

He said, once there is any development, the government and police authority would officially make the announcement.

Besides, Suleiman Anka, Zamfara state’s Commissioner for Information and Culture, also distanced the state from the news report.

He encouraged the public through his social media handle to disregard the reports.

“I want to call the attention of good people of Zamfara State. They should disregard any fake news regarding the release of abducted students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, by one national daily,” he stated.

“It is not true. But Alhamdulillah, the state government and securities are there trying their best.”

Bello Muhammad Matawalle, the Zamfara state governor further reaffirmed the position of his media aide but with assurance to locate the missing girls.

He gave the pledge on Sunday, February 28, 2021 during the visit of a federal government delegation led by Senator Hadi Sirika, the aviation minister.

“The people of Zamfara state have mandated me as their governor to appeal to Mr. President to mobilise more securities to the prone areas because definitely there is a shortage of security manpower in the state,” he told the delegates.

“We hope that by the time you land in Abuja, you will be called upon to come and witness the release of the children,” he said.

In addition, one of the national dailies – The Punch Newspaper – later apologised for the false news.

“The Zamfara schoolgirls are yet to be released contrary to our earlier report. We regret and apologise for the error,” it stated.

In total, about three authorities have denied the report and one of the national dailies also apologised.

THE VERDICT 

The claim in the reports by at least two national dailies that schoolgirls abducted in Zamfara have been released is FALSE.

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