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Terrorists ambush Guards Brigade in Abuja, forces closure of schools

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Joke Falaju, Kanayo Umeh, Ernest Nzor (Abuja), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Saxone Akhaine, Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna), Danjuma Michael (Katsina) and Eniola Daniel (Lagos)
26 July 2022   |   4:30 am
Barely 24 hours after terrorists, who hijacked the Kaduna-bound train released a video, where they threatened to kidnap President Muhammadu Buhari and Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, insecurity fears heightened at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), leading to the immediate closure of all unity schools in Abuja.

• After 120 days in captivity, four train victims regain freedom
• Lead speaker in viral video paid N100m ransom for release, brother claims
• Families of train victims block Transportation ministry, condemn Aisha Buhari’s silence, demand release of loved ones
• Give me time to get briefings, Minister pleads
• Government, others benefiting from insecurity, bandit kingpin tells BBC
• Ortom: There’s no government in Nigeria
• 18,000 killed by terrorists between 2020 and 2022, PDP laments
• NNPP calls for state of emergency in five states
• Northern youths threaten to disrupt 2023 general elections if insecurity persists

Barely 24 hours after terrorists, who hijacked the Kaduna-bound train released a video, where they threatened to kidnap President Muhammadu Buhari and Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, insecurity fears heightened at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), leading to the immediate closure of all unity schools in Abuja.

This was after three soldiers sustained injuries in an ambush by Boko Haram terrorists in Bwari Area Council of the FCT. The soldiers from the elite Guards Brigade guarding the FCT as well as the presidential seat of government were ambushed along Bwari Kubwa road, while on patrol of Bwari Area where the Nigerian Law School and the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) is located.

The Guards Brigade is in charge of the security of the President, his entire family, the Vice President, Very Important Personalities (VIP), the Federal Capital Territory and its surrounding states. This would be the first direct encounter between terrorists and the Brigade of Guards in Abuja.

The soldiers from 7 Guards Battalion, who have been carrying out patrol in the town following intelligence report of an impending attack on the Nigerian Law School, came under heavy fire around the Kubwa-Bwari road.

The wounded soldiers have been moved to the 7 Guards Medical centre, where they are currently receiving treatment and are in stable condition.

The signal message on the attack reads: “Troops on routine patrol along Kubwa-Bwari were ambushed by suspected terrorists. Three soldiers were injured during the attack. The soldiers have been evacuated for medical attention. Details on the extent of their injuries are still under confirmation. The ambush attack happening within the general area of Bwari shows that the terrorists are actually within the location and possibly preparing to carry out their plans to attack the law school in Bwari as earlier reported.”

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Guards, Captain Godfrey Anebi Abakpa, confirmed the attack but declined further comments.

It was earlier reported that while responding to potential terror attacks in the nation’s capital following a security alert by the FCT command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) that the insurgents were planning to attack schools, churches and public infrastructure, the Brigade of Guards had deployed troops at the entry and exit points in Abuja, for a more effective security of the seat of power, with soldiers intensifying stop and search operations at increased checkpoints.

YESTERDAY, the Federal Ministry of Education, taking a cue from intelligence reports, directed the immediate closure of all unity schools domiciled in the FCT, while ordering immediate evacuation of students.

While some schools had directed students to vacate latest on Wednesday, July 27, other schools disseminated messages to parents asking them to come pick their children, yesterday, without a fail, due to rising fear and anxiety emanating from reported threats.

On Sunday night, unconfirmed reports trended on social media indicating that there was heavy shootings around Federal Government College (FGC) Kwali, Abuja, and parents had rushed to the school to ascertain the safety of their children and possibly return home with them until calm is restored.

Confirming the report, the Director Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Education, Ben. Bem Goong, noted that the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, gave the directive in the early hours of Monday.

According to him, “the closure became necessary following a security breach on Sheda and Lambata villages, suburbs of Kwali Area Council, which also threatened FGC Kwali. According to the Minister, the timely intervention of security agencies saved the situation.”

Adamu Adamu also directed that arrangements should be made for final year students to conclude their NECO examinations.

ABDUCTORS of Kaduna-Abuja train victims have released four from the remaining 43 victims in their custody. The terrorists had, on Sunday, flogged the 43 victims. The victims, who consist of two males and two females, secured their freedom around 11:00a.m. yesterday with their relatives picking them up at a location inside the forest along the Kaduna-Abuja highway.

Terrorists had taken hostage 62 passengers of the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28.

Security operatives and the Kaduna State government are yet to issue any statement regarding the development.

The publisher of Desert Herald, Tukur Mamu, gave the names of the released victims as Gladys Brumen, Oluwa Toyin Ojo, Hassan Usman Lawal and Pastor Ayodeji Oyewumi.

Lawal was the lead speaker in Sunday’s viral video, pleading with the international community to secure their freedom. It was gathered that his release was effected yesterday after N100 million was paid by his family members. He has since joined his family at Unguwar Rimi area of Kaduna metropolis.

According to a family member, “my elder brother paid N50 million, while friends and sympathisers paid the remaining balance. We are happy to see him back after four months. On behalf of our family, we thank Nigerians for their prayers and support during this most difficult times.

“We never envisaged we will see him alive, especially when we saw him on the video yesterday. We couldn’t sleep. We were all awake praying fervently for their release. We will pray for the release of the remaining ones who are still in their captivity.

“Right now, we are on our way to hospital so that he will be properly be examined,” he added.

EARLIER, families of the train attack victims, yesterday, laid siege at the entrance of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, blocking staff from accessing the office complex.

The protesters, who arrived the ministry as early as 7:00a.m. lamented the prolonged silence of the government despite their outcry.

The renewed protest was sparked by the viral video where the victims were been flogged, while the women and children were watching and crying.

One of the family members said they got a voice note from the bandits demanding N100 million to be paid for the release of their loved ones, but unfortunately, the negotiator said he had hands off from the matter due to insincerity on the part of the government.

They demanded to know why wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who is considered to be the mother of the nation, has not commented on the unfortunate incident since it happened.

They condemned her prolonged silence, saying when Chibok girls were kidnapped in Borno State, the then first lady came out and cried for the release of the girls.

Hajiya Hadiza, said: “What is the first lady doing? Is she not a mother or even grandmother and she has not for once come out to speak on this matter, rather she is canvassing for women to come out to contest.”

The Permanent Secretary, Magdalene Ajani, initially said she felt their pain, because her sister was also kidnapped in the ill-fated train, but she was, however, countered by the victims’ families that her sister had since been released

She, however, pointed out that the ministry is in constant talks with the security agents and the negotiators have been busy for the past three weeks.

She urged families of the victims to channel their demand to the security agencies who are in the right position to give them the information they need.

The Minister, Sambo Mua’zu, in his response, said he is just resuming and was yet to get briefing on the matter. He said before he resumed, he had asked the Permanent Secretary to dialogue with the families.

“But I want to beg you one thing. I have just resumed and I’m going to receive the necessary briefings this morning. I want you to give me some time. In the meantime, I want contact names and addresses with telephone numbers that I can reach. I assure you that we’re going to be in constant engagement until this matter is sorted out and until every single person in captivity goes back home.”

BANDIT kingpin, Abu Sanni, in a documentary released, yesterday, by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Africa Eye, said insecurity in Nigeria has become a business everyone, including the government benefits from.

Yusuf Anka, a journalist, who crisscrossed remote bandit enclaves in the state, undertook the 50 minutes documentary titled The Bandit Warlords of Zamfara.

The BBC documentary sheds light on the mindset of bandit leaders, the booming nature of the kidnap-for-ransom business and how insecurity in Zamfara State may have been triggered by ethnic conflict between Hausa and Fulani groups.

The bandits who spoke with the BBC team accused the government of neglecting them and giving priority to the Hausa community.

Sanni said the 279 schoolgirls who were kidnapped on February 27, 2021 in Jangebe, Talata-Mafara Local Council area of Zamfara State by his gang was done to disgrace the government as revenge for sending the military after them.

He said his gang demanded N300 million from government for the release of the schoolgirls but N60 million was paid.

“When the rainy season ended, they sent the military after us. We decided to show the government they should not interfere in our problems. We went to Jangebe and took the students. We wanted to get the government angry,” he said.

“We demanded N300 million but after negotiations, N60 million was paid for their release.”

When asked what the money for the ransom was used for, he said the proceed was spent on buying riffles.
“Everyone is benefiting from terrorism in Nigeria, including the government, from top to bottom. The government get money, though, for our money, blood spill.”

BENUE State governor, Samuel Ortom, on Monday, said the insecurity situation in the country has reached its peak with the threat by bandits to kidnap the President, adding that there was no government in the country.

The governor, who briefed journalists at the new banquet hall of the Government House, Makurdi, further decried the insecurity in the country, saying that the President Buhari regime had left Nigerians digging their graves.

He said: “Things are getting worse. You know I said this before I travelled out, that very soon, with the manner bandits are operating without proactive steps from the Federal Government, they will soon enter Aso Rock.

“You have seen happenings in the country; the Kuje prison break and the threat to kidnap the President. God forbid, but this is what I saw long time ago.

“I feel pains that this is happening in my generation. There is no government in Nigeria today. Those who are surrounding the President are criminals.

“Mr President, you are not doing well, you have violated the oath of office you took, Nigerians are in pains,  they are suffering, the socio economic lives of the people have gone down the abyss. You have left us digging our graves, we need a true change, not the change from top to bottom you promised us in 2015.”

The governor, who explained the reasons he visited United Kingdom and the United States of America during his two weeks vacation, said it was to correct the wrong narratives of the Federal Government that the herders attacks on Benue was beyond climate change but as an occupation force.

THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the seeming helplessness of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government in rescuing the victims of Kaduna-Abuja train terrorist attack.

The opposition party said it is sad that even when the figure of people killed by terrorists between 2020 and 2022 had risen to 18,000, no serious effort was being made by government to address the tragic issue of kidnapping, and terrorism.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, PDP’s national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said: “The party is deeply saddened, alarmed and distressed by the video of terrorists mercilessly flogging, inflicting grievous bodily harm and threatening to sell into slavery and kill traumatised victims of the bloody Abuja-Kaduna train attack, who have been held in captivity since March 28, exactly 120 days today.”

“It is indeed heartbreaking to watch fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, helpless children; compatriots and citizens of Nigeria in captivity and being tortured, brutalized, humiliated and crying in pain, agony and anguish just because we have the misfortune of being under the APC government that has proven to be derelict, irresponsible, unconcerned and completely numb to the pains and sufferings of our citizens,” the party lamented.

According to the opposition party, “between 2020 and 2022, about 18,000 Nigerians have been killed by terrorists who continue to be emboldened by the failures and obvious complicity of the APC and to which the PDP had always drawn attention.”

ALSO, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) in Katsina State has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in five Northern states to enable security operatives tackle the situation facing them.

At a press conference on Monday, chairman of the party, Sani Liti, identified the states where state of emergency should be declared to include Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara.

Liti lamented that more than 50,000 people that include women and children, have lost their lives to terrorists from 2015 till date, while several trillions of naira have been paid in ransom to terrorists.

He lamented that the ransom monies collected by the terrorists was being used to further purchase weapons, and they use same to perpetuate heinous acts against Nigerians.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to hire mercenaries for six months, that would help tackle the rising security situation in the country.

In addition, he called for the recruitment of at least one million young Nigerians to be trained as special forces to protect and secure the country when the mercenaries leave.

NORTHERN youths, under the umbrella of Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA) have threatened to disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections if the victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack are not released, and the Federal Government also fails to an end to the protracted killings and kidnapping by terrorists in the country.

Besides, the Arewa group urged President Buhari to sack the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, for incompetence in handling the current situation of insecurity in Nigeria.

The members of AYA said that “as the victims of the ill-fated train marked 120 days in captivity, which was celebrated by the terrorists through a released video depicting how they are being molested, we share in the pain and agony of the immediate families and friends of those in captivity, and pray God to intervene through His supernatural power and set them free.”

In the statement signed by Muhammed Salihu Danlami, yesterday, the group noted that “the growing audacity of non-state actors, which led to the invasion of Kuje Maximum Prison, Abuja shows that even Mr President in the Presidential Villa is not safe.

THE youth wing of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Monday, expressed worry over the latest threat from one of the terrorists’ groups operating in the Northern part of the country. The National President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, said the audacity of the terrorists in the viral video was worrisome.

He said: “How else can we explain the fact that mass abductions go on under this government daily, yet none of such victims have ever been rescued, except when ransom is paid. Not long ago, these daring terrorists attacked the President’s convoy. As if that was not enough, Kuje Prison was breached.

“When we thought we had heard the last, they have now threatened to abduct a sitting President. As usual, this threat will be treated with levity by the government in power. This situation intensifies the fear that there could be a grand plan to Islamise this country by simply handing it over to terrorists.

“The time had come for Mr. President to prove otherwise to Nigerians. Security agencies should not be busy pursuing Biafra agitators when the real threats to individual and national security are walking the streets free, receiving chieftaincy titles.”