Buhari orders rescue as terrorists ‘herd’ Kagara students into forest
• 36 state govs meet in Abuja
• Angry senators declare govt incompetent
• Demand state of emergency on security
• APC assures of safe return of abductees
• Defence Minister rally Nigerians to resist kidnappers, bandits
• Fleeing terrorists kill 11 policemen, residents in Yobe
In another bout of terror, armed bandits in military uniforms, yesterday, invaded Government Science College Kagara, in Niger State and herded unconfirmed number of students and their teachers into the forest.
Failure to effect immediate release of the victims last night triggered concerns over their safety, as one of the pupils was said to have been killed during the attack.
In the wake of the attack, governors of the 36 states last night converged on Abuja to deliberate on the matter and advise the Federal Government on way forward. The meeting chaired by the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi, was slated for 8.00pm. There was no communiqué yet at press time.
A source, which confirmed the incident to The Guardian, hinted that the attack started from the hostels and ended at the staff quarters.
The source also disclosed that a staff of the school, who was also abducted, escaped and returned to the school. The Guardian could not reach Police Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Command, ASP Wasiu Abiodun, for comments at press time.
FOLLOWING the attack, President Mohammadu Buhari, yesterday, directed the military and Police hierarchy to effect immediate rescue and safe return of all the abductees.
He also ordered that a team of security chiefs be dispatched to Minna, to meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the college with a view to coordinating the rescue mission.
“Our prayers are with families of the victims of this attack,” the President said in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, just as he condemned the attack on innocent school children.
Notwithstanding, the Senate, yesterday, asked the President to declare a state of emergency on security without further delay.
The attack, which occurred in the early hours of yesterday, put the entire Kagara town in confusion. Those living very close to the school deserted their homes for fear of the unknown, even though normal activities gradually returned in some parts of the town.
Eyewitnesses said the uniformed attackers came to the government school at about 2 a.m. in their large numbers shooting into the air.
“They first went to students hostels, and later approached the staff quarters.”
Mallam Mohammadu Isa, an indigene of Kagara, said the bandits carried out the attack for several hours without any confrontation from security agencies.
Isah, the witness described the attack as “sad and most unfortunate,” recalling the abduction of over 20 passengers of NSTA bus, returning from Kontagora, last Sunday. He wonered why the Federal Government had not put necessary measures in place to forestall reoccurrence.
A farmer, Mahmud Garba, stated that farmers in the area had abandoned their farms for security reasons, adding that their lives were not safe.
Hinting that prices of foodstuffs might escalate further, Garba appealed to relevant security authorities to protect life and property.
Emir of Kagara, Alhaji Salihu Tanko enjoined the people to pray fervently for safety of their lives. He commended the state government for its efforts to restore peace in the area.
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello had earlier today directed immediate closure of boarding schools in the affected local council areas of Rafi, Mariga, Munya and Shiroro.
Governor Bello assured that all options will be explored to ensure the release of all students and teachers that have been abducted, including their family members, adding that the state government would not pay ransom against its own policy.
MEANWHILE, yesterday’s kidnap of students pushed senators from the state into uncontrollable anger against the Federal Government.
Senators Mohammed Enagi (Niger South), Sani Musa (Niger East) and Aliu Sabi Aliu (Niger North) described as unacceptable, the worsening state of insecurity in Niger State and Nigeria in general.
In a brief debate on a motion sponsored by Senator Musa, the lawmakers expressed worries that the state had become unsafe for education, agriculture, and other socio-economic engagements.
Musa, in defending his motion, informed his colleagues that the number of students in that school was more than 1000, adding that the actual number of those kidnapped was yet to be known.
Before the debate began, the Senate leadership had warned lawmakers against resorting to politics and political gimmicks during deliberations.
Consequently, all lawmakers who participated in the debate were from the APC as none from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spoke.
Use of hostile words and languages peaked when Senator Enagi lamented that none of the resolutions that had been adopted by the Senate and sent to President Buhari was executed.
According to him, the Federal Government under the leadership of Buhari is grossly incompetent.
The visibly angry lawmaker further noted that government had been evasive on issues that ought to be given attention. Enagi observed that it was unfortunate that the Federal Government was too incompetent to handle the economy in such a way as to guarantee full employment for the nation’s teeming youths.
Enagi equally suggested amendment of laws to allow governors take charge as chief security officers of their respective states, insisting that government at the centre had failed woefully.
He added that citizens might need to be allowed to bear arms through amendment of laws, if the situation persists. He said:
“I am sorry to say this, the government is grossly incompetent in handling security challenges in this country.
“In my own zone, few days ago, terrorists went to two local governments, but fortunately, my people were able to repel and killed 9 of them. In short, everybody here has a story to tell about security challenges in this country.”
The lawmaker continued:
“What else are we supposed to do that we are not doing? Are we supposed to amend laws in this country to give every citizen opportunity to carry arms? What else are we supposed to do?
“Shouldn’t we amend Nigeria’s Constitution to give more powers to governors who are the chief security officers of their various states, because, our government at the centre is so incompetent in handing security issues?”
He lamented that “For over two years, our Police and other security agents have been trying and for over two years, we discuss security challenges that we are facing, yet nothing has improved.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, halted the debate after Enagi declared that the kidnap of the students was unfortunate.
Lawan said the security agencies had challenges of personnel and funds.
He said: “Abduction of students from school happen in northern part of Nigeria.
“With incidences like this, parents would be scared to take their wards to school and the efforts of the past and present leaders at providing education would be defeated.
Also, Senator Aliu, expressed dissatisfaction that the Federal Government had been unable to ensure release of some 57 travellers kidnapped in Niger State last Sunday.
He called for a more decisive action from security agencies to get the kidnapped persons released.
Sabi cautioned Federal Government to take extra ordinary measures to halt the spate of insecurity, which he feared could spread to the Federal Capital Territory.
The Senate urged the President to declare a State of Emergency on insecurity in Nigeria. It also urged Buhari to consider and implement “the recommendations of the Senate ad-Hoc Committee on Nigeria’s Security Challenges dated March, 17, 2020 and
Senate Resolutions therefrom, as a holistic response to the mounting security challenges across the country.”
The Senate sought a massive and combined operation to identify and destroy camps and hideouts of criminals.
BUT the ruling All progressives congress (APC) assured of safe return of the Kagara college pupils. APC, in a statement by its caretaker committee secretary, Senator John J. Akpan Udoedehe, enjoined Nigerians to ignore claims by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the Buhari administration was not doing enough to ensure security of lives.
It noted: “We cannot join issues with the PDP but rather focus on ongoing efforts to ensure quick and safe release of the abducted schoolchildren and other citizens.
MINISTER of Defence Maj. Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd) urged Nigerians to join hands with security agents to tackle the appalling level of insecurity in the country.
The Minister, who fielded questions from reporters at the National Assembly Complex, spoke in response to the kidnap of hundreds of students in Niger State.
Expressing concern, he reminisced his youthful days when communal efforts were enough to ward off men of the underworld.
On clamour for liberalisation firearms, he said it was unnecessary in view of the fact that the issue remains contentious in advanced nations, including the United States of America (USA).
IN a related incident yesterday, a gang of fleeing Boko Haram terrorists killed seven policemen and four residents of Bayamari community in Yobe.
The policemen were slain on Tuesday, while they were protecting the border community from attacks, after fleeing military operations in Sambisa Forest, in neighbouring Borno State.
Confirming the incident, yesterday in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, Audu Yahaya, a Civilian JTF disclosed: “The terrorists killed seven villagers and four policemen…”
He said the terrorists, after fleeing troops’ aggressive onslaught, launched an attack on Bayamari village Tuesday by 12:15pm.
According to him, the fallen policemen paid the supreme price while attempting to protect the villagers.
“The terrorists launched their attack from their newly-established camps in the Malari Zango River Forest, Abduri and Buhari,” he said.
“Other new hideouts include Degltura, Kayidiri, Garinb Liman, Gumsari Gagala and Gorrgo in Yunusari Local Government Area.”
He said that, of recent, terrorists had been fleeing Bama, Gwoza, Damboa and the Lake Chad region, where military operations are ongoing.
He said the insurgents fled to seek permanent refuge on the fringes of Sambisa Forest.
“Some terrorists infiltrate various communities; where they rented houses and pretend to be businessmen,” he said, noting that those that could not hide their identities are forced to establish camps and tents in the Sasawa Forest and along Kumadugu-Yobe River Basin.
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