From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
Kebbi State Governor,Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has assured parents and guardians of the safe return of the abducted students of the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, in Ngaski Local Government Area of the state by bandits.
The governor who stated this on Friday while visiting, few hours after the suspected bandits stormed the school and killed the police officer guarding the students, told the traumatized parents that all the security agencies are doing their best to rescue them alive.
Suspected bandits had, on Thursday, at about 12 noon attacked the school, killed one police officer, during an exchange of gun fire, kidnapped five teachers and unspecified number of students.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army said its troops of Operation Hadarin Daji rescued two teachers and five students of the school. One of the students, a female, was rescued dead due to exhaustion.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement on Friday, said that the victims were rescued after an exchange of fire with the criminals.
The Governor said: “This is unfortunate incident because about two weeks ago, we heard that the bandits were sighted around this area and we consulted with each other, with the Federal authorities who told us that the school had about two weeks to finish their National Entrance Examination. In that consultation, we all agreed that if the security can be found and stationed in the school maybe we can better support the children before going home.
“The Police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Adeleke Adeyinka-Bode, was gracious enough to find a big contingent from the Special Anti-Terrorism Task Force and they were located to school yesterday. But when the incident happened there were no less than 20 members of the force on ground. But unfortunately they were overpowered because different accounts we have received, showed that the bad elements came in hundreds.”
Bagudu assured of his government commitment to do everything humanly possible to rescue the children. He also commended security agents for their gallant effort, adding that the security agencies were all alerted and a lot of progress had been made to rescue the children.
“President Muhammad Buhari asked me to extend his sympathy to us, Yauri Emirate and the parents of the children over the situation. We are still calling for your understanding and cooperation to handle the situation and we pray that God bring this children back to us and bless them with us to continue seeking their education,” he said.
Saturday Sun gathered that the Nigerian Anti-Terrorism Police team, vigilante and Nigerian Army are still on the trail of the suspected bandits in the forest within Yauri, Zuru areas.
But in a related development Kebbi State Police Command has denied some media reports that the suspected bandits used the police patrol vehicle to whisk away the kidnapped students and their teachers. The police also refuted the story that 50 students of the college were kidnapped stressing that the number cannot be ascertained as at now. The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, DSP, Nafi’u Abubakar, stated this in a statement made available to the newsmen in Birnin Kebbi on Friday.
A part of the statement read: “The command wishes to make it clear and set the record straight that yet-to-be ascertained number of students are still missing as the rescue operation is still ongoing. The white Hilux van with registration No. kBSJ 29 belonging to a High Court Judge with inscription of Kebbi State Judiciary hijacked by the bandits along Birnin Yauri Road, was the one used in perpetrating such dastardly act and not the police vehicle as stated by some media stations.”
Abubakar then expressed the command’s commitment to brief members of the press as events unfold. “They should make sure they get their information from the right source before drawing a conclusion,” he said.