Mallam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President, has apologised to the public for misleading information on the number of schoolboys abducted by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
Over 330 schoolboys were abducted from their hostels last Friday night, the very day President Muhammadu Buhari arrived his home state of Katsina for a private visit.
In the aftermath of the public outrage and demands for immediate rescue of the students, Shehu had told a foreign news media outlet that the figure was exaggerated as only 10 schoolboys were actually missing after the raid on the school.
The BBC Hausa Service had reported then that “spokesman for the President, Mallam Garba Shehu told the BBC only ten children were remaining in the hands of the gunmen according to their colleagues who escaped from the gunmen.
“The number is below figures released by school authorities at the beginning. Garba Shehu said the school children who escaped said 10 of their friends were still with their abductors.”
However, a week after, a total of 344 of the boys were freed from the kidnappers den in neighbouring Zamfara State and were ferried back to Katsina where they were received by the State Governor, Aminu Masari, who had earlier given the correct figure of pupils missing.
Taking to this Facebook page on Friday evening, Shehu said swallowed his words and said he was equally misled by “persons that should ideally know”, as he rendered his sincere apologies.
His words: “I apologize for the incorrect communication citing that only 10 students were kidnapped at the science school, Kankara
“This communication of numbers was provided by persons that should ideally know. These numbers were seen to conflict with what was available at that time.
“Please understand that this communication was in no way done to downplay the seriousness of the situation.
“Please accept my sincere apologies on this matter as we continue to move our great Nation Nigeria forward. Thank you.”