From Ndubuisi Orji, Okwe Obi, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja and Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Bandits operating along the Katsina corridor on Friday raided and abducted hundreds of students at Government Science Secondary, Kankara, in Kastina State.
The attack occurred a few hours after President Muhammadu Buhari arrived Katsina enroute his hometown, Daura on a private visit.
Following the outrage that has greeted the incident, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, slammed President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the abduction of about 600 students of the school had raised questions about the capacity of the Federal Government to tackle insurgency in the country.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, stated this at a press briefing, in Abuja.
Ologbondiyan, while condemning the attack on the school, told President Buhari, as the commander-in-chief, who promised to lead from the front, to account for the abducted students, as the incident took place a few hours after his security machinery took over the state.
The opposition spokesman urged President Buhari to immediately cut short his holiday in Daura, Kastina State and go in search, as well as rescue the abducted students.
He said: “Our party holds as perplexing that at a time the people of Katsina should have heaved a sigh of relief because of his presence, the abduction happened right under Mr. President’s nose; in his home state, where he had gone holidaying.
In the same manner, security experts under the aegis of Coalition for Peace and National Security (CPNS), have renewed the call on President Muhammadu Buhari, to sack service chiefs on the account of the development, noting that the insecurity in the country was becoming severe.
The group’s National Coordinator, Dr Mohammed Maigoro and National Secretary, Tunde Funsho, in a statement yesterday, noted that the adoption was a sad reminder of the Chibok girls who were whisked away from their hostel over seven years ago.
Maigoro charged security personnel to swing into action, fish out the abductors and use them as experimental guinea pigs.”
Following the rising criticisms trailing Friday’s abduction, President Muhammadu Buhari who condemned the bandits attack was said to have charged the army and the police to go after the attackers to ensure that no student was missing or harmed.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari urged the school authorities to carry out an audit of the population of the students following shootings in and around the school that sent hundreds of them fleeing and scrambling over perimeter walls.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly bandits attack on innocent children at the Science School, Kankara.
“Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities and the injured,” said President Buhari while pledging to continue to support the police and military struggle against terrorists and bandits.
Meanwhile the governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, has ordered the closure of all boarding schools in the state following the incident.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari who visited the area yesterday, in company with the state Deputy Governor Mannir Yakubu and some other senior government officials ordered that the students should be sent home.
He gave the order while interacting with a cross-section of distraught parents who thronged the affected school in search of their wards.
He pleaded with the people to be patient and show restraint and understanding, assuring that government would do everything possible to ensure the release of all the abducted students. He said that security officials, including the military, the police, and the Department of State Security had swung into action and were on the trail of the bandits.
Eyewitness accounts said the bandits had earlier attacked Kankara town at about 10 pm but apparently failed in their bid to abduct some of the residents.
According to a government official resident in the area who pleaded anonymity, “the bandits attacked Kankara town and wounded a number of people last night beginning some minutes to 10.00 pm.
“But soldiers of Operation Sahel Sanity and Operation Hadarin Daji succeeded in repel- ling the attack after which the bandits fled and later abducted some students at the Government Boys’ Science Secondary School which is located on the outskirts of Kankara town.”
Katsina State Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Gambo Isah, while confirming the report said: “Some bandits attacked the school at about 11 pm last night but we are yet to ascertain the number of students abducted.
“The hoodlums broke down the school fence and in the course of the attack, some of the students fled the school with some seeking cover in the bush and other locations in the area.”
Kankara is one of the eight local government areas said to be on the “front line” where suspected bandits and kidnappers exploit the proximity to the notorious Rugu forest to carry out their activities.