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Whereabouts of ‘600’ pupils unknown as nation slides into ‘uncertainty’

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Entrance of GSSS attacked by suspected bandits in Kankara, Katsina State

• Masari Orders Shutdown Of Boarding Schools
• Actual Number Of Abducted, Missing Students Uncertain — Police
• Buhari Condemns Bandits’ Attack On Katsina School, Charges Army To Rescue Students
• Call Off Holiday, Rescue 600 Kidnapped Students, PDP Urges President
• Kankara Abduction Sad Reminder Of Dapchi, Chibok Episodes — CPNS
• Make Your Word Your Bond, YCE Tell Buhari
• President Shunning Reps Tantamount To Abdicating Duty — NCP
• Nigeria’s Governance Beyond Buhari’s Capacity — Uwazurike

Nigeria is sinking deeper into a state of anomie with the abduction of about 600 schoolchildren from their dormitory, at the Government Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State, by suspected bandits at about 9.45pm on Friday.

The Katsina incident, which happened barely eight days after Boko Haram slaughtered over 100 farmers in Borno State, among other violent incidents have continued to lend credence to the worsening insecurity in the country.

The schoolchildren’s abduction happened the day President Muhammadu Buhari landed in his home state of Katsina for a week’s private visit, where he was presented with a horse by Emir of Daura, Alhaji Farouk Umar Farouk.

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Interestingly, Buhari’s trip to Daura was done a day after he made a remarkable volte-face, after initially agreeing to appear before the National Assembly (NASS) to brief lawmakers of efforts that his government has been making to curb widespread insecurity.

With the spectre of insecurity looming larger than ever-before in the country, bandits dared the president by kidnapping about 600 of the about 800 pupils in the school, located in Kankara Local Council, which is 190 kilometres away from his homestead in Daura.

Some of the students escaped into nearby bushes, while others ran home to their parents while the bandits raided their school after shooting one of the policemen guarding the school’s entrance on the leg before gaining entrance.

While the NASS also cemented its alleged rubber stamp reputation with some members openly supporting the president’s no-show, stakeholders are worried at actions and inaction of the president that seem to have diminished governance and portrayed Nigerians as being taken for a ride.

They are also questioning the imperative of a seven-day private trip by a commander-in-chief at a time that strategic sessions are ultra-important in reducing the spate of killings, abductions and other violent crimes that have enveloped the country.

Their grouse is even made worse by the realisation that Buhari, 24 hours after he shunned a National Assembly invitation, abandoned his duty post and embarked on an impromptu vacation while criminals run riot across the country.

HOURS after the abduction of the pupils, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, ordered the closure of all boarding secondary schools across the state to forestall a reoccurrence.

One of the school’s teachers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bandits launched the attack shortly after prep by shooting into the air, a development that led to commotion and stampede.

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He said the school has over 880 students, with the exception of JS3 and SS3 students, who are now out of school, and that 600 students were yet to return to the school several hours after the attack.

“We are still hoping that some of them might return. We believe some of them fled the attack and ran into the bushes,” he said, adding that the bandits, after gathering the students in one place, moved them towards Pauwa, a neighbouring village, where they were carted away.

Another teacher, who also craved anonymity said a headcount in the school carried out on Saturday, amid reports that hundreds of students had been abducted, revealed that 54 students were missing, a member of staff at the school told Channels TV on the condition of anonymity.

Masari, who abandoned an earlier scheduled event, yesterday morning to head to Kankara to ascertain the situation, ordered the immediate closure of all boarding secondary schools across the state.

Accompanied by his deputy, Mannir Yakubu, and other government officials, Masari met with the school officials, some parents, traditional and religious leaders, as well as security officials.

He pleaded with the people to be patient, show restraint and understanding, while assuring that government would do every necessary thing to ensure the release of all abducted pupils.

He said security personnel, including the military, police and the Department of State Security (DSS), had already swung into action and were on the trail of the abductors.

Governor Masari further assured that both governments at federal and state levels were doing their best to bring an end to banditry and other criminal activities in the state.

According to him, the government is very firm in its resolve to be ruthless in any engagement with the bandits.

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Spokesperson for the State Police Command, Gambo Isah, a superintendent of police who earlier confirmed the incident, however, said the actual number of kidnapped, or missing students was being investigated.

According to Isah: “On 11/12/2020 at about 21:40hrs, bandits in their numbers, shooting sporadically with AK-47 rifles, attacked Government Science Secondary School, Kankara.

“The policemen on duty also responded to the attack and engaged them in a gun duel, which gave the students opportunity to scale the fence of the school and run for safety.

“The DPO reinforced the policemen on duty with Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), which forced the hoodlums to retreat back into the forest.

“One inspector sustained a gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital and is responding to treatment. In the course of investigation, the DPO rescued over 200 students back into the school compound.

“The police, Nigerian Army, and Nigerian Air Force are working closely with the school authorities to ascertain the actual number of missing and/or kidnapped students, while search parties are assiduously working with a view to finding and/or rescuing the missing students.

“It will be too early to say at this particular moment the actual number of students that have been kidnapped or missing,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the deployment of additional operational and investigative assets to support the ongoing search and rescue operations. The deployment, which includes personnel from the Police Tactical Squads, and crack detectives from the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB), will provide investigative support to the Katsina State Police Command.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, said they are also to work in sync with the military and other law enforcement agents in coordinated efforts aimed at rescuing the students, hunting down the perpetrators and bringing them to book.

PRESIDENT Buhari, yesterday, condemned the bandits’ attack and charged the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to go after the attackers to ensure that no student gets missing or harmed.

He also urged the school authorities to carry out an audit of the population of the students following shootings in and around the school that sent hundreds of them fleeing.

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“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits’ attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara. Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” said Buhari while pledging to continue to support the police and military struggle against terrorists and bandits.

THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in its reaction, charged Buhari to cut short his holiday and immediately take steps to rescue the kidnapped students.

At a press conference addressed in Abuja, the party’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party was shocked that the abduction took place a few hours after President Buhari arrived Katsina for a holiday, adding that the development showed that no security intelligence was done before the president’s trip.

Kastina State Governor, Aminu Masari (right); Commander, 17 Brigade, Katsina, Brigadier General W. B. Idris (left); and Principal of Government Science Secondary Schoo (GSSS), Kankara (where bandits abducted an unspecified number of students on Friday night), Malam Usman Abubakar, when Masari visited the school … yesterday

The party said it is perplexing that at a time the people of Katsina should have heaved a sigh of relief because of his presence, the abduction happened right under Mr. President’s nose; in his home state, where he had gone holidaying.

“This development,” according to the PDP, “has further exposed the failure of President Buhari to manage high level security intelligence that ought to accompany a presidential visit.”

The PDP said it was distressing that Buhari, who refused to honour an invitation by the House of Representatives for a collective deliberation on security, “could abandon his duty post for a holiday, leaving our national flanks open for terrorists, bandits, vandals, and insurgents.”

The party claimed that the time of the attack buttresses the fact that “President Buhari, as the commander-in-chief, is totally incapable of securing our nation; the very reason there have been widespread calls by patriotic Nigerians that he should resign.”

AN advocacy group, the Coalition for Peace and National Security (CPNS), which also condemned the Katsina attack described the action of the bandits against innocent school children as unacceptable, tasking security agencies to immediately swing into action to rescue the missing students, and also apprehend the perpetrators.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Dr. Mohammed Maigoro, and National Secretary, Tunde Funsho, the group said: “We received the news of yesterday’s attack on Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State, where at least 600 out of 800 students of the school are reportedly missing with shock.

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“This latest action by bandits is a sad reminder of the past similar ones on Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State on the night of April 14, 2014, where 276 girls writing West African Examination Council, WAEC, were abducted and another attack on February 19, 2018, at the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, in Yobe State that left some students dead and others missing.

“This attack on innocent school children is not only cowardly but also callous and a crime against humanity, prohibited under the international humanitarian law.

“We urge the security agencies to immediately swing into action in not only rescuing the missing students but also apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” the group said.

LEGIONS of Nigerians have continued to weigh in on Buhari’s botched trip to the NASS with many of them scalding the president for his action.

According to the Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide: “Once the Speaker announced Mr. President’s decision to honour the invitation and Buhari’s Special Adviser on Social Media confirmed same, it was incumbent on the President to appear at the chamber. A gentleman’s word must be his bond.”

Olajide, who said shunning the NASS was not only disappointing, but also a slap on Nigerians added: “What the president did was wrong and his handlers and the APC didn’t advise him appropriately. They did him a lot of wrong by asking him not to appear, despite his initial assurance. It was more degrading that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, even visited the president in Aso Rock as a follow-up to the invitation and he assured him only to make a U-turn. That portrays him as a dictator. I appeal to well meaning Nigerians to condemn the action and that they must insist a new constitution is needed.”

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NATIONAL Chairman, the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Tanko Yinusa said Buhari’s refusal to appear before the NASS means he does not understand the tenets of democracy at all.

“He has simply ridiculed democracy and exposed it to danger. He has weakened it by showing discontent to the people that elected him into office.

“I do not think President Buhari is in his full capacity to preside over Nigeria. The ruling party is selling a dummy to Nigerians as if we don’t understand the constitution. For him not to appear before the House of Representatives is tantamount to abdicating his duty.”

THE Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), International Solidarity for Peace and Human Rights Initiative (ISPHRI), and Emeritus President of Aka Ikenga, insisted that not honouring the invitation of the House of Representatives on a crucial issue as security meant that Buhari has lost touch with realities.

The Leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu said: “His inability to honour the invitation of the House of Representatives proves him as a non-citizen and a foreigner who maneuvered his way to the presidency through hypocritical, complex and religious fundamentalism.”

Stressing that the widespread insecurity in the land should worry any right thinking person, Madu added: “For the umpteenth time, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has portrayed itself as an uncoordinated and clueless administration.”

His failure to appear before the House of Representatives to table efforts he is making to stem insecurity in the country is eloquent evidence that he is enjoying the rampant killings in the country.”

THE President of ISPHRI, Comrade Osmond Ugwu, on his part said: “Buhari has been taking Nigerians for a ride on a number of issues. I want to also believe that it is the National Assembly that has given impetus to this character of the president because they have refused to rise to their responsibilities of calling the president to order on a lot of issues.

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“This particular action of the president to me constitutes a gross misconduct because the action is tantamount to disobedient to constituted authority. In the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under Section 88, the National Assembly has the power to investigate public officers, including the president on issues of corruption and inefficiency. Section 89 makes it very clear that the National Assembly has the power to summon any person in Nigeria over any issue….”

PRESIDENT Emeritus, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike stated: “My suspicion is that the governance of this country is above the capacity of President Mohammadu Buhari. Alternatively, Mr. President is not fully cognizant of the happenings in the country or the farfetched thought is that he does not care as long as he is in power.”

Explaining that any of the three postulations could indicate a fundamental failure of governance, Uwazuruike, added that it was amazing how ‘a man of the people’ has “metamorphosed into an invisible president.”

He said: “The President addressed us (Nigerians) three times from March to December after a lot of prodding. The mutual interaction between the president and the people has been replaced by indifference and nonchalance,” stressing that “this present legislature is so tame that the president of the Senate declared that any bill from the executive will pass. Also, the Senate dissociated itself from the invitation of the president. As it is, the Speaker of the House of Representatives is a marked man in the political activities of APC.”

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