Less than 48 hours after suspected bandits stormed Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State, and abducted a large chunk of the students from their dormitories, Minister of Defence, Salihu Magashi, affirmed on Sunday afternoon that security forces have sighted the victims adding that efforts were on to rescue them.
However, according to him, Nigerians should embark on fervent prayers in order to avoid what he described as “collateral damage,” during imminent rescue process.
The minister spoke at the Katsina Government House when he led a delegation of the nation’s security chiefs including the Inspector-General of Police on a sympathy visit to Governor Aminu Bello Masari.
According to the Minister, “today, with all the sorrow in our hearts, we have come here to sympathise with you over what happened last Friday night, disrupting the education of students and the confusion arising from it.
“So far, we have been briefed by the people on the ground, the Commissioner of Police and heads of other security agencies here.
“With their briefing, the task of rescuing the students is going to be very simple for us because within the next few hours, these students will be back.
“We have strategised and we believe we can do it without any collateral damage to the people of Katsina State.
“We will go the whole hog because we have the intelligence, the information and we are aware of there whereabouts, their movements and their method of operation and we are sure that this (rescue) task will be very easy for the Armed Forces and the police to accomplish.
“The only thing is that we need prayers so that there will be no collateral damage.
“That is the purpose of our visit, to sympathise with you and assure you that all hands are on deck within the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the police to ensure that this rescue mission is given the greatest priority.
“The Armed Forces and the police and the other security agencies must move very fast to ensure the students are rescued.
“We are doing this on the belief that if these people are allowed to rest for a moment that means we are also equally condoning this kind of activities.
“The conclusion within the security agencies is that it is high time we declared these people as terrorists.
“If we do that, probably people will now sit up because once you are a terrorist, you no longer have any right to your life.
In his response, Masari said that 333 students were still missing, believed to have been abducted by the hoodlums, out of the total of 839 students in the school.
Some of the others on the entourage of the Minister of Defence included, the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Inspector-General of Police, DG,DSS, DG,NIA as well as heads of security agencies in Katsina State.
Bandits reportedly attacked the school at about 10.30 pm on Friday, hours after Buhari arrived his home state on a private visit.
Kankara is among the eight of the 34 local government areas in the state reported to be under the control of bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers.
As part of measures to check the menace of attacks by the hoodlums, the Nigerian Army in June 2020, raised a special squad, Operation Sahel Sanity, with headquarters at Faskari, a border community between Katsina and the equally troubled state of Zamfara.