A grieving parent, Aminu Dayyabu, whose son, Aminu Faruq is among the missing children from Friday’s attack on Government Science Senior Secondary School, GSSS, in Kankara, Katsina State, yesterday, begged the Federal Government to pay ransom and set free their children from their abductors. He spoke the mind of other parents of the missing students.
This came as the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, said it was disturbed by the re-emerging incidence of school invasion and abduction of teachers and students across the country’s educational institutions, threatening to down tools if decisive actions are not taken to address the trend.
The union was reacting to the invasion of Government Science Senior Secondary School, GSSS, in Kankara, Katsina State by gunmen, who abducted no fewer than 300 students of the school.
Meanwhile, a Special Adviser to the Katsina State Governor has said that more students from the Kankara school, missing since Friday when armed men invaded the school have returned from the bushes.
The Special Adviser, Alhaji Abdulaziz Maituraka, however, said they had no knowledge of the purported claim by Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau that his group abducted the students.
Speaking in an interview with BBC Hausa Service, Maituraka noted that some of the students were coming back on their own.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram, yesterday, claimed responsibility for the abduction of hundreds of school students in Kankara, Katsina State.
In a short a voice message, the group leader, said: “I am Abubakar Shekau and our brothers are behind the kidnapping in Katsina.”
The group was also behind the 2014 abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls in Chibok.
Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State, has disclosed that 17 students have been found and reunited with their parents. He disclosed this in an interview with a German radio, Deutsche Welle (DW) which was aired in Hausa on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has chided the All Progressives Congress, APC, for what it called the ruling party’s insensitivity to the plight of parents of the about 600 students abducted from GSSS, Kankara on Friday.
The APC has, meanwhile, asked security agencies in the country to dig deeper into last Friday’s mass abduction of hundreds of school boys.
Pay ransom, free our children from bandits
Dayyabu’s son, Aminu Faruq, a JSS 2 student is still missing. The grieving father said: “I support government paying ransom to secure release of our children, whatever amount since the government can’t rescue them. Had it be that the government can rescue them, we wouldn’t have supported paying of ransom.
“In my presence, about 40 vehicles of the soldiers came to Kankara, entered the bush and came out. One of the soldiers I engaged in little discussion with told me their vehicle was attacked as their tyre and glass were shot at. I saw the damages on the vehicle. With that, he told me that government has to sit up if it must defeat the bandits because they are well armed.
“So, whatever amount they demand as ransom, the government should pay and secure the release of our children.”
On Boko Haram claiming of responsibility for the abduction, he said: “It is sad but we are praying for God’s divine intervention for the safe return of our children. They are gradually returning. Even on Monday, some returned.
“Our call on the government is to deploy tactics or measures to rescue the students because majority of them are minors. The government should be tactical to rescue the children safely,” the grieving parent, said.
NUT threatens to stop work over abduction of students, teachers in schools
Meanwhile, NUT Secretary-General, Dr Mike Ene, reacting to the mass abduction in a statement, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to ensure safe release of the students and teachers held in captivity.
He said: “In light of these recent developments, the NUT may be compelled to down tools pending when it is safe for our members to teach and guide our pupils and students without fear of abduction by these faceless enemies of educational prosperity of the Nigerian nation.”
The NUT scribe recalled the abduction of Mr Alu Paul, a head teacher with Olagua Primary School, Ohordua in Edo State, on his way to work on December 1, 2020, and released six days later.
Ene added: “In the same vein, on December 8, 2020, Mrs Gladys Belleh and Mrs Blessing Emunefe, both of whom are teachers of Ohorhe Secondary School, Effurun in Delta State, were kidnapped in their school premises by armed bandits and are yet to be released, thereby throwing both families, students and the school community into emotional and overall destabilisation.
“Similarly, the night of December 11, Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, was invaded by armed bandits with reports that 333 students are yet to be accounted for as of today. This dastardly act has sent shivers through the spine of other members of the entire school community in Katsina State.
“These incidents are sad reminders of previous ugly events in Chibok and Dapchi, where Boko Haram terrorists had attacked and abducted students, creating monumental disruption of school activities and impeding our nation’s educational growth and advancement while subjecting family members and relatives to unimaginable trauma.
“The recent condemnable events of bandits attack on schools, if not immediately addressed, will largely affect the 2019/2020 academic calender which has already been disrupted by the six-month long lock-down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a union, the NUT will not fold its hands and watch enemies of educational development threaten the nation’s educational system to suffocation.
“As such, we wish to remind our government at all levels of their primary responsibility as enshrined in the constitution, which is the security of lives and property of the entire Nigerian citizens.
“The NUT makes bold to demand that government must rise to these challenges and take up its responsibility to guarantee and execute this general principle and commitment of providing adequate security to all our educational institutions and the nation at large,” he said.
More students appearing from the bushes-Masari’s aide
According to Governor Masari’s aide, Maituraka, the “security agents are there working thoroughly, by now other students might’ve been found.
“As I’m talking now, more students are coming out from the bushes. The solders are rescuing them.
“We would not like to have conflicting figures… but if we are a little patient, the soldiers would soon give us the actual figure. They will give us the actual information of those who have appeared.”
“Now we’ve information of over 17 … .we are hoping that by now, efforts have been intensified to rescue more.
“If I give a figure now, it is bound to change later because there are still more of these children in the custody of those people.
“By the grace of Almighty Allah, they are going to rescue all the children.”
On the claim by Boko Haram leader that they were the abductors of the Kankara students, he said: “We saw on social media that Boko Haram was laying claim on the abduction. But whatever it is, our prayer is for Almighty Allah to bring back those children.”
On the earlier story that negotiation was going on between the gunmen and the government on ways to rescue the students, whether they are bandits or Boko Haram, he said: “Security agents are in the bushes. If there is any progress or any development, what we need from the public is prayer.”
More parents besiege school
Meanwhile, parents of the missing children have continued to besiege the school to hear from the authorities on efforts being made to return their missing children.
Security has been beefed up in Kankara town as military and police vehicles were spotted in strategic locations.
A mother told the BBC Hausa Service that prior to the abduction, she was called in the night that her son was asthmatic. However, before she could get to the school, she learned the children had been taken away.
“We only met his belongings. He was abducted. We are deeply worried. Some of his siblings have become ill due to the trauma of missing him,” said the worried mother.
A father who travelled from Zaria in Kaduna State to Kankara, told the BBC Hausa Service that he has never been so disturbed in his entire life.
“I’ve lost my parents; I knew that was destined to happen. But this is so disturbing. The Minister of Defence had explained efforts being put in place to rescue these children. We wish them well, may The Almighty help them.” he said.
It will be recalled that when the gunmen invaded the school and were shooting sporadically, about 20 students escaped.
One of the escaped students, said “when we heard that we were being followed, we put out our bush lamps and ran for dear lives.”
One of the students, Osama, who escaped from captivity on Saturday and has reunited with his family, told the BBC Hausa Service that as they scaled the fence and ran, the bandits were asking them to return.
“We thought they were policemen, they drove us inside the bush. I am a sickler, I couldn’t endure the long trek, so I found a tree and sat down. When they went further, I stood up,” he said.
17 students found, says Masari
Governor Masari, speaking further on the development, said: “As at Monday, information available to me shows that 17 of the missing children have been found. About 15 of them were found around Dinya in Danmusa (LGA). I was informed by the DPO. One other 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 schools.
“Majority of the students were in the forest in Zamfara. Efforts are on for their rescue.”
Masari’s disclosure came after he had briefed President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura on the progress made so far in the efforts to rescue the abducted students.
PDP blasts APC over Kankara abduction
The opposition PDP slammed the ruling party for allegedly encouraging President Buhari to visit his cattle ranch instead of Kankara, where the tragedy struck.
In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “By not impressing it on President Buhari to cut short his unnecessary 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 well-being of Nigerians.
“Indeed, the preference for the welfare of Mr President’s cattle over the safety of our young students, who are now languishing in their abductors’ den, foregrounds APC’s disdain for Nigerians, for which it should never be entrusted with governance at any level in future.
“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 supported the insensitive comment by the Buhari Presidency, which blamed the slain farmers instead of taking steps to apprehend the assailants.
“Our party charges the APC to come clean on this manifest conspiracy of silence as such silence, in the face of horrific killing and kidnapping of innocent Nigerians, only points to the complicity of its leaders.
“The APC leaders must explain their interests in acts of violence and terrorism ravaging our country, particularly, given that many of them, including some state governors, had admitted establishing contacts with and even paying ransom to bandits.
“Moreover, the admission by a terrorist group of being responsible for the Kankara abduction, after the APC government in the state had informed the public that bandits were responsible and that it was already in contact with the said bandits, raises critical questions on the integrity of the claims by the APC government.
“Furthermore, our party recalls that the APC has failed to account for the whereabouts of political mercenaries they imported from neigbouring countries, particularly Chad and Niger Republic, to unleash violence on voters in the 2019 general elections.
“The escalation of banditry during and since after the 2019 elections, therefore calls for explanations by the APC and its leaders.
“Furthermore, our party strongly rejects the unfolding ploy by the APC to set up, ridicule and paint President Buhari as being solely responsible for their collective failure in governance.
“The PDP, standing with Nigerians, insists that the APC must not be allowed to hide under the failure of President Buhari to launder its image as it is the real architect of the misrule of the Buhari administration.
“The APC must answer for its atrocities and fake promises and not think that by abandoning the Buhari Presidency at the eleventh hour and by embarking on name change and orchestrated expulsion of some of its state governors and leaders, it will be exonerated by Nigerians.”
APC charges security agencies to dig deeper, do better
Governor of Yobe State and chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Mai Mala Buni in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, said this is a particularly sad and difficult moment not just for the families of the victims and the government and people of Katsina State but for the entire country.
He said: “These abductions bring to mind the sad incidents in Chibok and Dapchi in Borno and Yobe States respectively a few years ago, where students undergoing their studies and working hard to become tomorrow’s leaders were abducted by insurgents and made to go through appallingly harrowing experiences.
“As the Buhari administration works harder to improve the security situation in the country, the APC calls on the nation’s security agencies to dig deeper and do better by ensuring that our students can go to school safely and learn all across the country. There is no greater harm that insecurity can do to a nation than to destroy its education and the future of its youths.
“They should therefore, demonstrate this commitment by more robustly going after criminals and denying them the space to perpetrate crime.
“On our part, the APC assures Nigerians that it will continue to work with the Federal Government, security agencies, governors, emirs, community leaders and all other stakeholders to address and improve the security situation in the country.
“The APC calls on Nigerians to continue to partner with the federal government and the security agencies so that together we can restore peace and sanity in our streets, on our roads, and all across the nooks and crannies of the country,” the statement added.
Vanguard News Nigeria