Nigeria: Katsina Attack – Abducted Schoolchildren Are in Zamfara Forest – Masari

Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari, said yesterday that the abducted school- children from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, were in a forest in Zamfara State.

According to the governor, majority of the students are in the forest in Zamfara State, ad- ding that efforts were ongoing to rescue them.

“Majority of the students are in the fo-rest in Zamfara. Efforts are on for their rescue,” Masari said.

The governor, while speaking on a foreign radio programme, also said two of the kid- naped students have been killed by their abductors.

A parent, Faiza Kankara, whose son is among the kidnapped schoolboys, said one of the students that escaped from the attackers said the kidnappers have killed two of the students.

Kankara also said the student told them that while in captivity, they were made to go through inhuman experiences, including being flogged like animals and fed with wild flora.

The governor further said 17 of the stu- dents had been found and reunited with their parents.

Masari said, “As at today (Monday), infor- mation available to me shows that 17 of the missing children have been found. 15 of them were found around Dinya in Danmusa.

“I was informed by the DPO. One other student was found through them

and the last, the father called that his son has returned home.

“All these missing children found have been reunited with their families since we have shut down their schools”.

At least 333 students are said to be still

Masari missing since the attack late Friday night on the all-boys Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State.

The attack was initially blamed on ban- dits who are active in the North-West region where kidnapping for ransom is now common, though Boko Haram terrorist group in an audio message days later said that it was responsible for the kidnap.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Army said on Monday that it had located the hideout of the assailants, and that a military operation was underway.

More than 100 gunmen on motorcycles were said to have stormed the school, forcing students to flee and hide in the surrounding bush.

Stop Demoralising Our Troops, Senate Warns Amnesty International, Others

The Senate yesterday accused human rights group, Amnesty International, International Criminal Court (ICC) and some Nigerian celebrities of demoralising troops at the centre of fighting insecurity across th country, especially in the North-East, by alleging human rights abuses.

The upper chamber urged them to steer clear of security issues in Nigeria. Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who expressed Senate’s concern to journalists yesterday in Abuja, also hailed troops in the North-East for foiling a planned at- tack on Askira Uba town of Borno State last weekend.

Ndume said he would soon move a motion on the floor of the Senate on the need to formally warn Amnesty International, ICC and other persons concerned, to desist from demoralising and distracting Nigerian troops from their duties of securing the country.

He stated: “On the issue of unnecessa- ry interference by Amnesty International and the International Criminal Court and other self-acclaimed celebrities and social media influencers who claimed to be patriotic Nigerians.

We that have been living with these problems, and as leaders of the affected communities, know the feelings of our people. Right now, what the ICC is trying to do is destroying things instead of helping matters.

“You cannot cry more than the berea- ved and they cannot be the prosecutor wi- thout the plaintiff. How can they prose- cute without the plaintiff? We have the Nigerian government, the federal parlia- ment and the nation’s judiciary.

“If there are human rights abuses, it is only when there is failure on the part of the three arms of government to act swift- ly that we can draw the attention of the international community to it. Nigerians are more concerned about securing their country.

The Nigerian Army and the police are overwhelmed already.

“Honestly, we will stand up against that. We are not encouraging human

rights abuses, we can’t say there are no such thing but they are definitely isolated cases especially when the Boko Haram insurgency reached its peak in 2014.

“They should stop distracting and threatening our gallant troops that have sacrificed their lives to defend the coun- try. As representatives of the people, Nigerian parliamentarians are solidly behind our military on this issue”.

The lawmaker representing Borno South also commended troops in the North-East for foiling a planned attack on Askira Uba town and killing scores of terrorists in the process.

He said, “I want to thank the Nigerian military especially the Army and the Air Force. My investigation reveals that were it not for the presence of the Air Force, the success recorded would not have been achieved.

That is why I want the emphasis, the need for cooperati- on between the Army and other armed forces to continue. I want them to also improve on their response to any alarm or alert from any member of the public.

“What happened that day was that a citizen of Askira called me around 5pm and also sent a text message to alert me of a large gathering of Boko Haram insurgents in about 10 trucks heading towards Askira.

He urged me to do something urgently about it. I quickly forwarded the text message to the Chief of Army Staff and that of the Air Staff. The two of them responded quickly and assured me that they were monitoring the situation.

“There was a coordinated efforts between the Air Force, from their

base in Yola and there was reinforce- ment from the Brigade in Chibok. There is also, another battalion that is operating in Adamawa.

They converged to address the situation and they recorded a tremendous success because many of the insurgents were killed while arms and ammunition were recovered from them.

“The Army and the Air Force combined to pursue the insurgents until they neutralise them. If they continue like this, cases of incessant attacks by insurgents in that area will stop it. I also want to commend the civilian JTF and the vigilante groups because all of them worked together to record that success”.

Implement Our Resolutions To End Insecurity, Senate Tells PMB

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to consider and implement the recommendations of the Senate Adhoc Committee on Nigeria Security Challenges dated March 17, 2020 and Senate Resolutions therefrom, as a holistic response to the mounting security challenges across the country.

The upper legislative chamber also condemned the attack on Government Science School, Kankara in Katsina State, which led to the abduction and disappearance of over 300 students.

Senate, however, rejected a prayer seeking to invite the Minister of Defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar; the Director-General, Department of State Security Service, Yusuf Magaji Bichi; and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu to brief the Senate on measures being taken to rescue the missing students.

The resolutions followed the adoption of a Motion moved pursuant to Order 42 and 52 of the Senate Standing Rules by Senator Bello Mandiya (APC, Katsina South) at plenary yesterday.

Mandiya noted with sadness the recent terrorist attack and abduction of students at Government Science School, Kankara, Katsina State by gunmen on Friday, December 11, 2020 as widely reported in both local and in- ternational media.

The Motion stated: “Further notes that according to reports by media organization including Aljazeera, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Premium Times and the Daily Trust Newspapers of 13th December, 2020, more than 300 school boys are still missing following the attack;

“Recalls that media reports about the dastardly incident indicate that the attackers stormed the school premises and engaged government security agents in a fierce gun battle, forcing hundreds of students to flee and hide in the surrounding forest while others were reportedly abducted by gunmen;

“Further recalls that the Katsina State Governor, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Mallam Aminu Masari was reported to have confirmed that before the incident, the school which operates as a boarding school had a total student population of 884 students but after the attack, the whereabouts of 333 students is yet to be ascertained;

“Aware that section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended stipulates that the welfare and security of citizens shall be the primary responsibility of government; those government at all levels owe the people the duty to provide adequate security;

“Aware that the recent attack and abduction of school children at Go- vernment Science School, Kankara, Katsina State is coming on the heels of yet to be resolved abduction of 270 girls which took place at Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno Sta- te in 2014, and abduction of about 100 school girls at Government Science and Technical School, Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018;

“Concerned that like the other incidents of school children abduction that took place in Chibok and Dapchi, several years back, if no immediate action is taken to rescue the Kankara School boys, their fate may be sealed in the hands of terrorists”.

Contributing to the debate, Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) said, “Everyday, people are dying and nothing is happening, and we continue to talk, we continue to go and console them. We can’t bring those lives back.”

“We can’t continue to be leaders, when the people we are leading are being killed everyday. What are the police doing?

“Yesterday, armed bandits were roaming the streets of tekina going to buy bread and geisha (canned fish), and nobody is saying anything to them. And then we will continue to live here and think we are at peace with ourselves?

“Mr. President, there’s need for this chamber to draw the attention of Mr. Pre- sident that enough is enough, these Ser- vice Chiefs Should go. We should give im- petus to new blood.

“There are people that have new ideas. Technology is taking over everything today. We don’t have the army; we don’t have the police. Why don’t we deploy the technology?” Musa queried.

Another lawmaker, Kabiru Barkiya (APC, Katsina Central), while describing the kankara kidnapping as a “sad incident”, ad- vised the National Assembly to take urgent steps towards curbing the increasing spate of insecurity in the country.

For his part, the Senate Minority Lea- der, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), in a rather short statement, demanded President Buhari to “Bring back our boys”.

Also speaking, Senator Abdullahi Ada mu (APC, Nasarawa West) while identifying the limitations of the National Assembly to intervene, advised that a Committee made up of Senators belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) be constituted to brainstorm on possible solutions to the security problems bedeviling the nation.

In his concluding remark, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said that the Na- tional Assembly will continue to engage the executive arm of government until appro- priate action is taken to address the growing insecurity in parts of the country.

He stated: “There’s nothing more im- portant for government to do than secu- ring the lives of citizens of this country, and at all times.

“As a parliament, we should never get

tired of talking about issues that affect our people. We have our own limitations becau- se of the structure of how governance must be carried out, but we must never get tired of reporting what is happening to our people.

“I believe that we should think outside the box. What are those new things that we need to say to bring everybody to the table for the kind of action we believe in the Senate and, indeed the National Assembly, that should be taken.

“We are part of government, but we have a specialized function, and all these things that we appear to be worried about that nothing has been done is because of the function that we have been appropriated to by the Constitution. But it doesn’t mean we are wasting our time.

“We should continue to engage with the Executive arm of government until the ap- propriate actions are taken, because that is what we are expected to do as a Parliament,” the Senate President said.

PDP Tackles APC Over Conflicting Claims

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government has critical questions to answer following the admissi- on by a terrorist group of being responsib- le for the Kankara school abduction after the APC government in the state had earlier declared publicly that bandits were responsible for the attack.

The party also lambasted the APC for encouraging President Muhammadu Buha- ri to visit his cattle ranch instead of Kan- kara, in his home Katsina State, were 600 students were abducted by suspected terrorists.

The PDP said by not impressing it on President Buhari to cut short his unneces- sary holiday and make efforts to rescue the abducted students, the APC has again shown that it is a party of ‘political bandits’, which has no iota of concern for the wellbeing of Nigerians.

The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the preference for the welfare of Mr. President’s cattle over the safety of young students in their abductors’ den, foregrounds APC’s disdain for Nigerians.

Kola in a statement said, “Our

party and, indeed, discerning

Nigerians are not surprised that the

APC, as a party, has not forcefully condemned the kidnapping of the students even as it has not raised any strong voice against the recent gruesome killing of 43 farmers in Borno state by terrorists.

“Rather, the APC has tacitly suppor- ted the insensitive comment by the Buha- ri Presidency, which blamed the slain far- mers instead of taking steps to apprehend the assailants.”

The party further charged the APC to come clean on what it called manifest conspiracy of silence, stressing that as such silence in the face of horrific killing and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians, only points to the complicity of its leaders.

Change Strategy, Tinubu Tells Military

For his part, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday visited Governor Babagana Umara Zulum of Borno State in Maiduguri, with a call on the Nigerian armed forces to change their strategy in order to end the current spate of insecurity.

He said, “We have been on this (insecurity) for some time. We have seen the reaction of the federal government; we have seen the reaction of the armed forces. This is no longer a conventional warfare, this is more tactical,ore crude. In such situation, what we do is to replan our strategy.

“We have seen the governor’s life has been attacked more than one occasion in effort to eliminate him but Allah is mighty, he has protected and will continue to pro- tect you”.

Tinubu, who was on sympathy visit to the governor over the recent killing of farmers by Boko Haram insurgents in the state, added that under insurgency gover- nance would hardly excel.

He said, “You can’t concentrate, become innovative and excel if you have to make educational development in fear. We saw people who have endured so much agony, denial, brutality, decided to run to their farms to develop means of livelihood not only for themselves but for all of us, at the end they were slaughtered.

“That’s not religion, it is not in our religion (Islam), it is not in Christianity eit- her, it is an act of wickedness. I want His Excellency and members of the State Executive Council to see this visit not as a condolence only, not sympathy only, but as a solidarity and commitment that we must defeat all evil doers,” Tinubu said.

12 Armed Bandits Arrested In Katsina

Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said troops deployed for Ope- ration HADARIN DAJI arrested 12 armed bandits, logistics suppliers and collabora- tors in Katsina State.

The coordinator, Defence Media Ope- rations, Major General John Enenche, said the troops on December 14, 2020, successfully ambushed some marauding armed bandits around Magizawa, Kani, Zango, Tabanni and Nasamu villages of Kaura Namoda LGA of Zamfara State.

He said the successful operation, which was conducted sequel to actionab- le intelligence on the movement of the bandits in the general area, resulted in the neutralization of many of the criminals while several others fled with fatal guns- hot wounds into the forest.

He said the troops apprehended 7 of the fleeing criminals and recovered 1 ma- gazine with 17 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.

Furthermore, he said troops also ap- prehended a suspected bandits’ logistics supplier named Adamu Abdullahi, at- tempting to convey 20 brand new motor- cycles carefully concealed in a J5 bus, to a suspected bandits camp.

He said during preliminary investiga- tion, the suspect and his conductor, one Tanimu Usman, confirmed that the con- signment was to be delivered to a designa- ted location at Jibia in Katsina state.

Enenche added that both suspects are undergoing further investigation after which they will be handed over to the relevant prosecuting agency for further action.

In a related development, he said troops intercepted four suspected ban- dits’ collaborators named Ibrahim Dahiru, Umar Dahiru, Sani Suleiman and Isah Da- hiru from Raudama in Kamoani, Daudawa village in Faskari LGA of Katsina State at Raudama village with unspecified number of suspected rustled cows.

He added that although the suspects initially claimed to have recovered their cattle from suspected rustlers, prelimina- ry investigation, however, revealed that the suspects were beneficiaries of proceeds of cattle rustling.

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