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Protests in North over schoolboys kidnap

By Kanayo Umeh, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Cornelius Essen (Abuja), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Rauf Oyewole (Bauchi)
17 December 2020   |   3:50 am
Leaders of Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) have resolved to protest today in Katsina State, to force the government to rescue hundreds of students kidnapped from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara...

A Kankara Town road sign is seen, after gunmen abducted students from the Government Science school, in Kankara, in northwestern Katsina state, Nigeria December 15, 2020. – Boko Haram on Tuesday claimed the abduction of hundreds of students, marking its first attack in northwestern Nigeria since the jihadist uprising began more than ten years ago. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

Northern elders arrive Katsina to lead showdown
• Buhari’s attitude fuelling insecurity, says CAN
• PDP insists Nigeria distressed, confused
• Military offers reason it couldn’t stop Kankara abduction

Leaders of Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) have resolved to protest today in Katsina State, to force the government to rescue hundreds of students kidnapped from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State.

The CNG spokesman, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said the national leadership of the body has arrived Katsina to join members from Jigawa, Kano and Katsina for an indefinite protest to compel action to rescue the boys

Suleiman said, “the exercise, tagged #Bringbackourboys, would commence today in Katsina and proceed to Daura to register its concerns with Mr. President.”

According to him, the protest would be led by the coalition’s Board of Trustees Chairman, Nastura Ashir Shariff, who has been in touch with parents of affected schoolchildren.

He argued it would be unreasonable to expect any northerner and other Nigerians to fold their arms and watch the North, a significant component of the country, abandoned “to the mercy of bandits, murderers and kidnappers.”

Reacting to the heavy presence of police in the town, he said caution must be taken to avoid suppressing legitimate protests that would be conducted peacefully.

AS the plan for the Katsina protests thickened, yesterday, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) blamed security crisis in the country on what it described as the ‘I don’t care’ attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari.

While expressing its disapproval of the President’s response to security matters, the association described the abduction of Katsina students as another tragic chapter in the history of the country.

CAN also contend that the fact that the abduction happened while Buhari, the chief security officer of the country, was in the state was an indication that the criminals chose to send a strong message to him that the security architecture of the country had been compromised under his watch.

CAN President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, noted in a statement issued in Abuja that the abduction had also exposed the failure of government and security agencies to learn from the kidnapping of 276 Chibok schoolgirls in 2014 in Borno State and 110 schoolgirls at Government Girls’ Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018.

Governments, according to Ayokunle, have not bothered, despite killings recorded daily. He asked the Federal Government to direct Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps to provide protection for schools and colleges nationwide, especially in volatile areas.

He also berated the President for refusing to honour invitation by lawmakers towards finding a solution to insecurity in the country.

“The President turned down the invitation of the House of Representatives to explain and rob minds with the legislators on the way out of our deplorable security situation in the country. What an attitude of ‘I don’t care!’

“President Muhammadu Buhari should remember history is being written about him with the way he is addressing all these security challenges just as we are talking about the Chibok schoolgirls and the Jonathan administration. This was what CAN foresaw long before now when we were calling on the President to sack the service chiefs and by extension to overhaul the security architecture.”

He advised Buhari not to heed wrong advice from his unscrupulous aides, describing them as enemies of the nation and of his administration.

The country, according to him, is almost becoming a failed nation, with the kidnapping of citizens, while victims’ relatives and friends are left at the mercy of the kidnappers “as they bargain for the release of their people as if they are commodities put out for sale.”

“Week after week, we continue to witness major assaults or debilitating attacks on innocent citizens. Is there no government in place anymore? Is this the way other governments of the world respond to life-consuming threats like we have,” he asked.

SIMILARLY, Global Rights, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to facilitate the rescue of the abducted students and to provide adequate security for schools.

A statement signed by the Programme Manager of the group, Funke Adeoye, in Abuja, asked the government to learn lessons from various attacks on schoolchildren and put adequate security arrangements in place.

“The attacks are not in the North alone, as in 2016, three female students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Ikorodu were equally abducted, while in 2017 eight students/staff of Tulip International College, Ogun State, were kidnapped,” it stated.

Quoting reports, it said no fewer than 4,203 people were lost to violence from January to November 2020. Of this number, he said, 1,895 persons were kidnapped.

It lamented that generations of Nigerian children are endangered as a result of insecurity in the land.

NIGERIA, in the assessment of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “is currently undergoing distress and confused under President Muhammadu Buhari.”

The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who declared this, yesterday, called for prayers for victims of insurgency in different parts of the country.

He, however, joined the demand that government must “bring back our boys”.

He spoke in Bauchi State on Wednesday when he and the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwa, flagged off the construction of N13.6 billion roads by Governor Bala Mohammed.

“You can see the situation we have found ourselves now in Nigeria. The country is in crisis, Nigeria is confused,” he said.

MEANWHILE, the Nigerian Army said, yesterday, it could not foil the kidnapping of Kankara students, despite arriving at the scene during the attack, because the bandits used the students as body shields.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, while briefing Defence correspondents, said troops could not afford to risk the lives of the students by engaging in a gun battle with the abductors.

“When the troops came, it was not in the best interest of saving lives to start exchanging direct fire. Of course, firing to scare the bandits was done but not direct fire because the children were being used as human shields.

“What is the end objective when you come to rescue and end up killing those you came to rescue.”

He, however, said the military was working to ensure the students were rescued.

“We are going on with our operations, it is a total military operation, we are taking the abductors by their action and we will get the children rescued as soon as possible. Everybody has a role to play, even the parents of the children, so, if they say the state governor is negotiating with the abductors, fine, but I want to say that the military is not part of it,” he said.