By Willy Eya, Vincent Kalu, Tunde Thomas, Muhammed Munirat and Molly Kilete
There was widespread outrage yesterday over the abduction of over 317 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School (GGSSS), Jangebe, Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State by suspected bandits.
Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, United Nations Education Fund (UNICEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Coalition of Northern Groups and others berated the Federal Government and the security agencies for the endless spate of insecurity in the country.
The bandits reportedly invaded the school about 1am on Friday, with several buses and motorbikes, and taking as many as 317 girls to an unknown destination.
The state government and the Zamfara State Police Command confirmed the kidnapping.
A statement by the Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), Shehu Mohammed, said a rescue search had begun to free the students and arrest their abductors
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) condemned the action of the bandits, urging them to free the students without delay.
UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, in a statement called on the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and safety of all other school children in Nigeria.
He said: “We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on school children in Nigeria. This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through, which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being.
“Children should feel safe at home and at school at all times and parents should not need to worry for the safety of their children when they send them off to school in the morning.”
Public Relations Officer of the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia, said it was a disturbing and dangerous trend.
He said: “It is disturbing. At the newsstand today, the cover pages of various newspapers are just about the worsening insecurity in the country. It is either kidnapping, robbery and crimes and criminalities. It is very disturbing and everything points to negatives.
“It is a strong indication that things are not working well in the country, and people are scared. It is a dangerous trend, coming less than two weeks after 47 students were abducted in Niger State.”
Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere urged the international community to intervene to save Nigeria from degenerating into a state of anarchy as a result of growing insecurity across the country, noting that there is no government in Nigeria at the moment.
Afenifere’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin said: “What is happening today in the country regarding insecurity is clearly beyond government’s ability. This government has no solution, and any Nigerian putting his hope in government is making a big mistake,” he said.
Arewa Youth Consultative Forum described the abduction of the schoolgirls as unfortunate.
President of the group, Alhaji Yerima Shettima said: “What is happening in Nigeria today is very sad regarding security. This is supposed to be a constitutional democracy, but sadly Nigeria today is being turned into a banana republic with the way bandits, kidnappers, and other criminal elements haven taken the nation hostage.”
National Publicity Secretary, Middle Belt Leaders Forum, Dr. Dogo Isuwa said the Federal Government was responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the country. He said that criminality would continue in Nigeria so long as the government pampers and compensates criminals.
He said the federal and state governments have failed woefully in addressing the security situation in the country.
Spokesperson for the Coalition of Northern Groups, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman said governments at all levels have failed to protect the lives and property of the people.
He regretted that there is no more presence of government in Northern Nigeria and expressed fear that herdsmen are now graduating and being indoctrinated to Boko Haram.
He said: “The entire North is under siege. People have lost confidence in the ability of the government to protect them.
“Buhari is not doing anything about security. The North is the major casualty of the Buhari administration.”
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai said the recent abduction shows a lack of preparedness on the part of government, regretting that security has collapsed in the country.
Former Secretary-general of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Frank Kokori described the recent abduction as a shame to both the Federal Government and the security agencies.
Also, former deputy speaker, Jigawa State House of Assembly, Yawale Abdu Yankwashi said what happened in Zamfara State was a slap on the leaders.
Meanwhile the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the deployment of two surveillance helicopters to support efforts by the police to combat banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes.
He assured Nigerians that the police and other security forces would not relent until the girls were rescued and reunited with their families.
It was gathered that some residents of Jangebe on Friday protested the abduction of the female students.
The residents took to the streets, destroying vehicles that were coming to the village.
The residents, women and children, used sticks and stones to attack vehicles, including two vehicles conveying journalists from various media houses, injuring a cameraman.