Respite in FCT as abducted varsity lecturers, children regain freedom
• Citizens’ Cooperation Facilitated Victims’ Release, Says Minister
• Students, Residents Seek Security Beef Up
The joy of families of kidnapped lecturers of the University of Abuja has been restored, as all abducted victims have been rescued through the efforts of joint security operatives made up of the police, the Department of State Services (DSS), military and local vigilantes.
The victims were rescued in the early hours of yesterday and moved to DSS hospital in Abuja for medical check up.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, in his reaction, attributed the release of the six abducted persons to joint efforts by security agencies and citizens’ cooperation.
Two lectures, a non-academic staff and members of their families were those rescued from kidnappers’ den by security operatives.
Spokesman of the police in Abuja, DSP Josephine Adeh, told newsmen that all the victims were rescued unhurt.
According to the officer, “FCT police command wishes to inform members of the public that all abducted victims of the University of Abuja were rescued and reunited with their families through a joint operation with other security agencies.”
The Minister of the FCT, who spoke via a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Anthony Ogunleye, expressed joy over the release but reminded residents that security was every citizen’s responsibility.
He urged them to be vigilant and always report any suspected criminal activity to security agencies or their various community leaders.
Bello disclosed that security agencies in the FCT and neighbouring states demonstrated great commitment and teamwork in the exercise that led to the release of the abductees.
He also thanked other government officials, community leaders and the citizens who, he noted, silently worked behind the scenes in the FCT and the neighbouring communities in the determination to ensure the rescue of the abducted persons by providing invaluable intelligence.
Bello assured residents of increased security surveillance across the Territory, urging them to go about their lawful affairs without anxiety or fear.
When The Guardian visited the homes of the lecturers at the University Staff Quarters, Gwagwalada, it witnessed deserted streets, even as relatives and neighbours of the victims were not so much in jubilant moods.
According to few neighbours whom The Guardian interacted with, almost everybody in the neighbourhood had gone to the DSS hospital where the rescued abductees were taken to for medical check up to ascertain their health status.
The neighbours, one Aminu and one Mustapha, said that the victims were still under the care of the DSS, adding that no one knew when they would return home.
When asked why everyone sighted appears to be in a sober mood, Aminu said people were still in shock, adding that it was too early to celebrate, as they were still waiting for the arrival of the victims to know their health conditions.
A family member of one of the abductees, Felix Obansa, who arrived home later to meet newsmen waiting for the arrival of the victim from the DSS custody, said the news of the rescue of his relative and others kidnapped was a huge relief.
He said even though they were happy as a family about the rescue, security in the quarters was still not satisfactory. He noted that there was need for concrete action to be taken in the provision of security in the area.
When asked if any ransom was paid by the families to secure their release, he said: “To my knowledge, I don’t know how the release came about. We were in the house this morning when we heard about the situation and we were just happy at this point and probably later we will get to know more about what happened.
“This is a good thing, because that is what we have been praying for in the past two days as a community and family. I have not been to the DSS facility, but my mother and some other family members are there and are hopeful that they are in good health and we will get them back,” he said.
It was, however, a mixed reaction at the University of Abuja Permanent site campus where some of the students and staff expressed concerns about the level of security on the campus and staff quarters while also expressing joy over the release of their staff and family members.
The students who pleaded anonymity said there was need to step up security at all entry and exit points of the institution.
One of them noted that even though the victims were rescued, “I advise the school authority to be more conscious in terms of security especially at the main entrance gate. When students and staff are coming in, everybody should be checked before being allowed into the premises,” she said.
Another female student lamented that the school’s security was recently breached when a gunman gained access into the campus and attacked a lecturer who luckily escaped.
She said: “We are hoping that they step up security to the staff quarters and the campus here because a few days ago, someone came into the campus and went straight into a lecturer’s office to attack him with a gun but the lecturer was lucky enough to escape it and the assailant also escaped. So, they were unable to do anything about it.”
Recall that there was palpable fear around Gwagwalada and University of Abuja community following the abduction of senior university lecturers and their children by unknown gunmen who invaded the school’s staff quarters last Tuesday.
The Chairman, Gwagwalada Area Council, Adamu Danze, had expressed hope that they would be rescued unhurt.
He had also called on security agencies to beef up security in the area.
“Before, now I had always raised concern about security in the area. I am using this medium to call the security agencies to pay attention to this particular axis,” he had said.