From John Adams, Minna
The Niger State Governor Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has ordered the immediate closure of boarding schools in the four local government areas under siege from bandits following the abduction of 27 students and three staff of Government Science College Kagara, in Rafi local government area.
Rafi, Mariga, Munya and Shiroro where banditry has assumed alarming proportions in the last 72 hours with the abductions of about 83 people.
The governor, in a statewide broadcast in Minna on Wednesday, said the decision to close the boarding schools is in response to the escalation of attacks by the bandits.
‘The tension is high, emotion is high and the situation is dangerous,’ the governor said, admitting that the government is overwhelmed as a result of the increasing number of bandits in the state
Governor Bello disclosed that the bandits who abducted 40 bus passengers have made a demand of N500 million in ransom for their release in a video currently in circulation, but ruled out the possibility of the government paying any ransom to the bandits.
‘It is not in our policy as a government to pay ransom to bandits because we have noticed that they use this money to buy arms and ammunition,’ Governor Bello said, adding that the government will be ready to support and assist repentant bandits.
The governor appealed for immediate intervention from the federal government to help rescue the students and other abducted persons from the hands of the bandits.
‘We are deeply concerned at this recent sad events and are asking the federal government to deploy every necessary resource while we will look at all options, both kinetic and non-kinetic to ensure the safe return of the victims of both incidences.
‘We will not rest or sleep until we bring them back to their families,’ the governor said.
‘Tension is high and the situation is very serious. We are saddened by all this development. We have been having attacks before and we have been working to settle it but in this past few days, the attacks have been so daring that it caught our attention. We pray that God will show us the way of getting them back safely.’
Meanwhile, the Senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa, has condemned the latest bandit attack and abduction of students.
Senator Musa, in a statement released on Wednesday, said that the cases of kidnappings and abductions in Niger State in the last 72 hours are alarming and a threat to national security, stressing that the abduction of the schoolboys in Kagara violates the rights to life and education of the kidnapped students.
The senator called on the federal government to step up efforts towards rescuing the students and all those abducted in Niger State and reunite them with their families.
Senator Musa said that he is worried that the kidnapping of school children is becoming a trend in the country and if not checked will frustrate the efforts of the government in addressing the problem of out-of-school children in the country, particularly in the North.
Senator Musa, commiserating with parents of the schoolboys and victims of the incessant kidnappings and killings in the country, called on the terrorists and bandits to lay down their arms and release those in their custody.
‘It is our responsibility to make sure children feel safe at home, in schools, and on their playgrounds at all times. I sympathise with the families of the missing children and the community affected by this horrifying event.”