From Mohammed Munirat Nasir, Gusau, Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti, Chinelo Obogo
Claims and counterclaims, yesterday, trailed the fate of the abducted students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State. While one source said they had been released and were in the palace of the Emir of Anka waiting for transportation to Gusau, the state capital, earlier in the day, another later dismissed the news as false.
More than 300 girls were kidnapped in a raid on Friday by gunmen who reportedly disguised as security personnel. A source said the girls were kept in the forest between Dangulbi and Sabon Birnin Banaga in the Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
The state government which had earlier expressed optimism that the girls would return soon, however, refused to either confirm or deny rumours that it reached a truce with the abductors concerning their release, yesterday.
Infact, Commissioner of Information and Culture, Suleiman Tunau Anka, tweeted: “I want to call the attention of good people of Zamfara State, they should disregard any fake news regarding the release of abducted students of GGSS Jangebe by one national daily, it’s not true. But Alhamdulillah, the state government and securities are trying their best.”
As confusion raged, anxious families of the schoolgirls gathered at the school, guarded by police.
Aliyu Ladan Jangebe said his five daughters aged between 12 and 16 were at the school when the kidnappers stormed in. Four were taken away, but one escaped by hiding in a bathroom with three other girls, he told The Associated Press (AP).
“We are not in (a) good mood because when you have five children and you are able to secure (just) one. We only thank God … But we are not happy. We cannot imagine their situation,” he said of his missing daughters.
However, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle has assured that the students would soon be rescued.
He gave the assurance when he received a Federal Government delegation led by Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika. Also in the delegation were ministers of Police Affairs, Alhaji Maigari Dingyadi, Women Affairs, Madam Pauline Tallen and Humanitarian Affairs, Hajia Sadiya Umar Faruq.
The governor said the state government was working with repentant bandits to ensure safe rescue of the female students.
“We are using those who have subscribed to our peace accord and let the president be aware that this children In Sha Allah, will be rescued soon. We hope that by the time you land in Abuja, you will be called upon to come and witness the release of the children.”
Matawalle urged the Federal Government to deploy more security personal in view of the vast land mass of the state. He also called for synergy between the armed forces in the fight against banditry, insurgency and other crimes.
Senator Sirika assured that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to end students abductions and other forms of criminality in the country.
“This abduction of the female students in Jangebe will be the last as the Federal Government has reorganised the security architecture of the country to nib all the atrocities of these criminals,” he said. He appealed for continued prayers and support of the citizens in the fight against banditry.
Pope prays for liberation of kidnapped students
Pope Francis, yesterday, decried the kidnap and prayed for their quick release.
Addressing the public in St. Peter´s Square, Francis said he was adding his voice to others including Nigeria’s bishop in condemning what he described as “the vile abduction” of the girls.
“I pray for these girls, so that they may return home soon. I am close to their families and to them,’’ the Pope said, asking people to join him in prayer.
Declare abductors of students terrorists -NANS
Following the gale of abductions of school children, the National Association of Nigerian Student (NANS) has advised the Federal Government to list bandits perpetrating such horrendous crime as terrorists.
It said the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls from Government Girls Junior Secondary Jangebe was an indictment and clear indication of failure of the nation’s security apparatuses.
In a statement in Ado-Ekiti, yesterday, NANS National President, Sunday Asefon, expressed disgust at the rate of kidnapping of schoolchildren in quick succession, saying the experiences from Chibok, Dapchi, Kagara, and Jangebe were pointers to failure of governance at all levels.
“These gale of Kidnappings have become one case too many and the fact that these kidnaps happened without any form of opposition from the security apparatus calls for serious concern.
“The emotional trauma on the kids even when released is long-term and unquantifiable; it may have a lasting influence on their perspective about school and education. Well-meaning Nigerians must be very concerned about this recent development.”
Asefon said NANS may resort to civil disobedience should the Federal Government fail to curtail the rising wave of kidnapping in schools.
Lack of security by FG responsible for abduction – Zamfara Emirs
The Zamfara State Council of Traditional Rulers has blamed the spate of kidnappings of students across the country on lack of adequate security by the Federal Government.
The traditional rulers made the observation at the Government House Gusau when he visited Governor Matawalle.
Chairman of the council and Emir of Anka, Alhaji Attahiru Ahmed, said security of lives and property of every Nigerian is the exclusive right of the Federal Government.
He described the abduction of over 317 female students as a calculated attempt to destabilise the nation.
“What happened is a tragedy to the whole nation even though it is not the first, but fifth after what happened in Chibok, Dapchi, Kankara and Kagara of Borno, Yobe, Katsina and Niger states.
“Your excellency should know that this is something ordained by God and so cannot be termed as a weakness as being speculated by detractors who are not happy with your successes.”
Responding, Gov. Matawalle said the state government’s peace and reconciliation team was working round the clock to secure the release of the victims soon.
Civil society groups blame past administrations
Some civil society organisations have alleged that the level of insecurity in Zamfara State is the result of the inability of previous administrations to develop the state and provide sustainable infrastructure.
In a press conference held at the weekend in Lagos, a coalition of 16 civil society organisations led by the Executive Director of the Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson, alleged that the inability of the previous administration to adequately provide basic amenities and infrastructure in the state which would have ensured that residents have a stable means of livelihood, led to the increase in crime, as many were jobless.
“Our findings, which were corroborated by residents in the state indicates that the issue of banditry arose because of lackluster performance of past administrations in the state and it became worse during the administration of the former Governor Abdulaziz Yari that he had to reportedly relocate from the state to Abuja.
“You will also recall, that it was widely reported recently that Yari was invited and grilled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged slush funds. If this cash has been plowed back into the state, it would be capable of boosting the economy and creating opportunities for the masses in Zamfara who are at the receiving end of bad governance over the years and now the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already bad situation.”
“Incidentally, the new EFCC Chairman, Abdurasheed Bawa, was in charge in Lagos when Yari was allegedly grilled for hours. This is setting agenda for the new EFCC helmsman to tackle the corruption bedeviling the country frontally. We want the media to beam their searchlight on this ugly trend in order for the anti-graft agencies to take action to serve as deterrent. It’s saddening that corruption is becoming endemic in our country and has retarded our progress for long. If we are to make progress, there’s need to re-evaluate our leadership recruitment process with the view to set an irreducible minimum standard.
“Going by Sheik Gumi’s recent assertion, the bandits are asking for blanket amnesty. What has the state denied them, you may want to ask that we should now grant them blanket amnesty for terrorism in the country. This only point to one direction—Failure of leadership,” Lawson said.
Daily Sun reached out to Yari to react to the allegations by the civil society organistions but hours after messages were sent to him, he didn’t respond.
Find lasting solution to kidnapping, NCWS begs FG
The National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) has appealed to the Federal Government to tackle the menace of kidnapping in Nigeria schools.
National President of NCWS, Mrs Laraba Shoda, in a statement on Sunday in Abuja, said frequent cases of kidnapping “are not good for the education of our children’.’
She condemned the abduction of students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Talata Mafara, Zamfara.
She noted that another abduction, happening barely a few weeks after gunmen abducted students of Government Science College, Kagara in Niger, was one too many.
The NCWS president expressed concern over the frequent abduction of innocent schoolchildren and called for a renewed commitment to tackle insecurity at all levels of governance.
“The attack on school children, particularly on girls, is targeted at demoralising, not only the girl-child but also others from accessing education.
“We hereby demand that just as the government rescued the schoolboys at Kankara in Katsina and the Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe, it should in the same vein, rescue the Zamfara schoolgirls in the quickest time possible,’’ she said.
Shoda prayed for the safe return of the children while comforting the families and prayed that they remain calm, believing in God to bring back the girls.