Military under fire as bandits kidnap Katsina schoolboys

By AdvocateNews on 13/12/2020

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Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai and Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari
Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai and Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari

•Hundreds still missing, Gov Masari shuts schools

President Muhammadu Buhari and military authorities came under fierce backlash on Saturday following the abduction of many schoolboys from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in the Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State on Friday night.

The Peoples Democratic Party, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum and others described the incident as unfortunate, saying it was a sad reminder of the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014. They noted that it was worrying that such mass abduction could take place under the watch of the various security agencies.

Gunmen suspected to be bandits Friday night invaded the school, a male only boarding school, and abducted an unspecified number of pupils. Residents said the gunmen invaded the school around 10:15pm and shot at one of the policemen manning the main gate.

The policeman, who was reportedly wounded in the leg, is said to be receiving treatment in hospital.

It was learnt that the bandits then proceeded to the staff quarters where they abducted the wife of a staff member before storming the pupils’ hostel where they gathered and abducted an unspecified number of pupils.

Military sources disclosed that troops of the Nigerian Army later arrived at the school to confront the bandits following which they (the bandits) left with some of the pupils.

Some of the pupils were also said to have escaped from the school during the gun duel between the troops and the gunmen.

The spokesperson for the Katsina State Police Command, SP Gambo Isah, confirmed the incident but did not disclose the exact number of students abducted.

When contacted on Saturday morning, he said, “We are still doing a head count to know the number of pupils (affected), maybe no pupil was even abducted as some of them had to escape from the school during the gun duel. So, I cannot give you the exact number of pupils abducted for now.”

A senior staff member at the school, who spoke on condition of anonymity, equally said a head count was being done, adding that parents had been coming to the school since early Saturday morning to know the fate of their children.

ACF urges security agents to go after bandits

The pan-Northern socio-political organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum, which condemned the abduction, said security agents should swiftly go after the bandits to rescue the pupils.

ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna on Saturday, “That this is happening in the President’s home state and at the time of his visit is not only serious but calls for concern. We at the ACF are not happy with the security situation in the country.

ACF shares the concern of the traumatised parents and hope that their beloved ones will join them soon. We call on security men to act swiftly by apprehending the criminals and bringing them to justice.”

Buhari incapable of securing our nation – PDP

In its reaction, the Peoples Democratic Party condemned the attack, while asking the President to show leadership by fulfilling his promise of leading the war against insecurity from the front.

The main opposition party expressed regret that the security situation in the country would not have degenerated to its current state if the President had listened to its counsel and that of many Nigerians to rejig the nation’s security architecture. It stated that the situation had shown that the President was incapable of securing the nation.

A statement titled, ‘Terrorism: Account for 600 kidnapped Katsina students, PDP tells Buhari,’ signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja on Saturday partly read, “This particular abduction in the President’s home state, under his watch, raises further serious questions over this government’s capacity to fight insurgency.”

The party chided the President for earlier refusing to honour an invitation by the House of Representatives for a collective deliberation on security, adding, “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.”

While asking the President to end his holiday and ensure the rescue of the pupils, “having earlier admitted that issue of security is his exclusive responsibility,” the PDP said, “Our party sympathises with the people of Katsina State, particularly the parents of the kidnapped students, who have been subjected to harrowing experience occasioned by the incompetence of the Buhari administration.”

A response was still being awaited from the All Progressives Congress as of the time of filing this report.

Declare state of emergency, Atiku tells Buhari

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has advised the President to declare a state of emergency on security as well as suspend academic activities in boarding schools in the North as part of measures to curb the growing insecurity. He, however, said the elected political structure at the local and state levels should be left intact.

In his statement titled, ‘Time for better strategies to secure Nigeria’, Atiki said, “I sympathise with the parents of the abducted children and the government and people of Katsina State. I pray for their safe return.”

While calling on law enforcement agents to immediately swing into action to rescue the missing pupils, he said, “I therefore call on the Federal Government to immediately declare a state of emergency in states bedevilled by banditry and terrorism for an offensive and decisive war on terror and insecurity.”

Abduction, sad reminder of Chibok girls kidnap – SMBLF

The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum also condemned the incident, saying, “The security system that cannot stop all this nonsense is totally useless and totally unfit.”

The SMBLF in a statement on Saturday evening by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), said, “The mass kidnap bore similar imprints with the Chibok incident of 2014 which became a serious political weapon for political power grabbers who lied about change.

“That a military formation is also around the Katsina school like Chibok and was unable to prevent this again raises the strong factor of conspiracy. The question is for how long are we going to watch fellow Nigerians being used as cannon fodders in this terrible scheme by these agents of darkness?”

It’s time to declare state of emergency on B’Haram – Ohanaeze

Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has said it is time to declare a state of emergency on Boko Haram insurgency, adding that the government should go after the terrorists.

Ohanaeze’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chuks Ibegbu, said, “It was Chibok and Dapchi in the past, now it’s Katsina. These terrorists are becoming more daring. There should be a national emergency on Boko Haram war. It has to be addressed methodically and strategically. The real terrorists are on our neck.”

The Coalition for Peace and National Security described the action of the bandits as unacceptable, as it challenged security agencies to immediately swing into action with a view to rescuing the missing pupils and apprehending the perpetrators.

CPNS, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Dr Mohammed Maigoro, and National Secretary, Tunde Funsho, said, “This latest development is yet another confirmation that the country is porous without security. We call on the President to be more concerned about this than regime protection as everyone has embraced democracy with no one reasoning along that line anymore.”

Hundreds still missing as fighter jets comb Zango/Paula forest

Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Education, Dr Badamosi Charanchi, said 406 pupils had been accounted for as of Saturday evening.

This fuelled fears that hundreds of pupils might still be unaccounted for as sources put the population of pupils in the school before the attack at about 800.

Charanchi, while addressing the staff and parents of pupils of the school inside the school premises, said, “We have now accounted for 406 pupils and I’m sure more pupils will be found as efforts are ongoing to ensure their rescue.”

Governor Aminu Masari later gave the figure as 426, saying no one could give the exact number of pupils abducted yet. Punch 

Posted 13/12/2020 06:32:59 AM

 

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