I’m sorry for kidnapped victims number gaffe — Garba Shehu

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Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, has expressed sadness over his misrepresentation of figures while reacting to the abduction of more than 300 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State last weekend.

Shehu, during an interview granted the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), had said only 10 students of the school were as at then not accounted for.

Later in a couple of tweets posted on his verified Twitter handle, he explained that he never meant that the missing boys had been found.

There had been tons of negative reactions, especially on different social media platforms, to the presidential spokesman’s assertion, many of them describing him as insensitive.

However, in a chat with The Nation in Abuja on Friday, Shehu expressed regrets over the development, blaming it on inaccurate briefing from supposedly informed sources.

He also pleaded for forgiveness.

Shehu said: “In doing this job, we are faced with as many risks as a journalist faces in reporting issues.

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“When you are not physically present at an event, what you do is to rely on accounts rendered by others who happen to be there.

“We can be misled as you reporters can, as it happened with the conflicting numbers we gave of the abducted students of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara who have happily all been returned to their families.

“What you do all the time before you appear for an interview, you do your research on the given subject. You make calls so that you are yourself informed. What then happens when they gave you the incorrect facts?

“There was absolutely nothing to suggest that the number of 10 as the students taken by the kidnappers was given us after a high level briefing by people who should ideally know.

“But I went beyond that to crosscheck with other authorities and the confirmation was given as 10. As it turned out, more than 300 were taken as can been seen from the returnees.

“I feel sorry that I was misled into hurting grieving parents. I absolutely have no reason to underplay the seriousness of the situation we were dealing with.

“As a father, I would have felt the same way about this misrepresentation as did the aggrieved parents. Sorry about that.”

The kidnapped students regained their freedom on Thursday and paid a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at his Daura, Katsina State country home yesterday before he departed the town for State House, Abuja.

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