By Our Reporters with agency report
Outrage, yesterday, greeted the Sunday massacre of more than 70 students of Yobe State College of Agriculture by members of Boko Haram sect as Canada, Speaker of the House of Representatives, All Progressives Congress, APC, joined others in condemning the incident.
This is just as relatives of the victims identified and collected the bodies for burial amidst wailing.
In its reaction, APC called on Boko Haram to immediately cease all attacks and embrace dialogue in the interest of national peace and security, following the resurgence of deadly attacks by the sect, especially the massacre of scores of students of the College last Sunday night.
This came as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, described the killing of the students as ignoble, wicked and horrendous.
Similarly, the Canadian government condemned the killing of the students by the sect, while Arewa youths called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently disband the committee he raised to dialogue with the sect on how to bring about peace.
Meanwhile, a presidency source told Reuters that President Goodluck Jonathan met senior security aides late on Sunday to discuss how to respond to the latest deadly shift in tactics by the insurgents.
APC, in a statement issued in Warri, yesterday, by interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, condemned the killing of the students, calling it dastardly, senseless and indefensible.
It called on traditional, religious, political and opinion leaders in the affected areas to intervene urgently to end the cycle of violence being perpetrated by the sect.
APC said:“It is clear that this Boko Haram menace cannot be resolved by the government alone, hence all stakeholders must urgently intervene to complement government’s efforts to end the insurgency and get those behind it to embrace dialogue.
“There can be no justification for Boko Haram to continue to kill and maim innocent citizens, especially because the victims are not just fellow Nigerians like them, but most are actually their kith and kin.
“They must, therefore, put an immediate end to their cycle of violence and opt for dialogue. The longer this violence continues, the more difficult it becomes to resolve. Enough is enough!”
One of the students that survived the attack, Ibrahim Mohammed, said: “The extremists rode into the college in two double-cabin pickup all-terrain vehicles and on motorcycles. Some were dressed in Nigerian military camouflage.
“They appeared to know the layout of the college, attacking the four male hostels, but avoiding the one hostel reserved for women. We ran into the bush. Nobody is left in the school now”
Tambuwal said the latest act, coming barely two months after a similar incidence at Government Secondary School, Mamudo, also in Yobe State, had gone beyond the realm of humanity as no reason could justify such dreadful acts.
The Speaker, in a statement issued in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, tasked security agencies to redouble their efforts and change their tactics, especially now that those engaged in the killings had increased their attacks on softer targets.
He said the only way to console the families of the victims and Nigerians was by fishing out perpetrators of the dastardly act and bringing them to justice.
He said: “We in the House of Representatives feel the grief and pain of the families of the victims. In this their hour of need, we will stand with them hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder.
”We want to assure them that as brothers, we will continue to confront the threats of terror confronting our nation, and we know we will come out stronger, and victorious.”
While expressing sympathy with the families of the victims, Tambuwal urged Nigerians to be more vigilant and help security agencies with useful information that will help to secure their areas.
In its reaction, the Canadian government condemned the attack on the students, and called on the Federal Government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, whose statement was made available to journalists by the Canadian High Commission in Abuja, said: “Canada strongly condemns the terrorist attack on a college in northeastern Nigeria.
“The perpetrators of this abhorrent act targeted innocent students, while they were sleeping.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to those injured in the attack and to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We sincerely hope that the perpetrators of this despicable act will be brought to justice.”
Northern leaders have failed us — Arewa youths
Meanwhile, Arewa youths, under the aegis of Arewa Youths Forum, AYF, said in Abuja, yesterday, that they were upset that the spate of killings and destruction had continued unabated in the north, despite the formation of the Boko Haram amnesty committee and the massive deployment of troops to the trouble spots.
National President of AYF, Alhaji Gambo Gunjugu, told Vanguard that they were saddened by the continuous loss of lives and property to the sect despite the presence of the panel.
It said: “As the umbrella organisation of all youths in the North, we condemn the dastardly and barbaric act of killing of about 50 students of College of Agriculture, Gujba, Yobe State.
“We want to say that this recent onslaught by insurgents in the North-East has clearly shown that the security operatives deplored to the zone have failed in their assignment.
‘Disband amnesty c’ttee’
“Consequently, we are asking the Federal Government to sack the Amnesty committee, as all their work and the so-called progress they have been talking about have not yielded any positive and physical result.
“It is unfortunate that instead of peace and development, the spate of killings and destruction had continued to be on the increase even with the setting up of the amnesty panel by the President.
“The current spate of killings and unresolved security challenges in the north has clearly shown that the present security chiefs in the country have run out of ideas on how to tackle the rising wave of attacks.
“It is time for them to go home and allow new ones with fresh ideas to tackle the current problem because they seem to be at a loss as to what to do next in the face of brazen attack and brigandage by these nefarious elements.
“We are afraid that if the security situation continues unabated there would be no country left for the future generations of Nigerians to call their own.”
The youths also asked the government to explain to the people of the north if the state of emergency declared in the three states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa was still in force or whether it had lost the battle to the insurgents.
It said: “But the unfortunate thing is that instead of the Northern governors in whose domain the fire is raging to concentrate on tackling the menace, our leaders are busy fighting for the forthcoming elections in 2015.
“They are busy discussing who will get the Presidency or Vice President in 2015, when the North is on fire. We make bold to say that these present crop of leaders have failed the region.”
It will be recalled that armed terrorists had on Sunday stormed the College of Agriculture in Gujba in Yobe State and slaughtered no fewer than 78 students, who were sleeping in their dormitories.
Relatives identify bodies
Provost of the college Molima Idi Mato told newsmen, yesterday, that there were no security forces protecting the college.
Amidst wailing, the relatives were seen collecting the bodies, while some were carried into vehicles for burial. A BBC video showed the victims being conveyed in ambulances to hospitals, where the wounded were being treated.
Soldiers recovered 42 bodies and transported 18 wounded students to Damaturu Specialist Hospital, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north, said a military intelligence official.
Two of the wounded later died, said Adamu Usman, a survivor from Gujba, who was helping at the hospital.
At least 18 students were being treated for injuries at a hospital in Damaturu.
Wailing relatives gathered outside the hospital morgue, where rescue workers laid out bloodied bodies on the lawn for family members to identify.