By Wole Mosadomi
It was never imagined that two schools could be targeted by bombers within two days in Niger State , but it happened.
The first was a tertiary institution – Federal College of Education, Kontagora – while the other was Maryam Babangida Science College named after a former first lady, Maryam Babangida, by the government of Dr. Mua’zu Babangida Aliyu. Two bombers were involved. That of the Federal College of Education, Kontagora was perpetrated by a female and the mission was accomplished but with low casualty while that of Minna by a male was aborted.
Maryam Babangida Science College is a female college planned to be a model school.
On the fateful Thursday, the students were at the assembly ground not knowing that there was a sinister move meters away by a bomber. At about 7.30 a.m., a female teacher hurrying to school suspected strange movements in the bush. She also perceived the odour of Indian hemp which sent a signal to her that something strange was happening nearby.
This led her to quickening her steps, but ahead of her was a young man carrying a school bag who pretended as if he was answering nature’s call.
Then her phone rang and this caught the attention of the suspect who stopped her and threw some questions at her in Hausa.
Suspect- Where are you heading for?
Teacher- To school for today’s job.
Suspect- Are you not aware that there is no school today.
Teacher- I am not aware because nobody told us of any holiday.
Suspect- Whether there is holiday or not, I want to advise you to go back home now in your own interest if you don’t want to lose your life!
It was at this point that the teacher knew that the man had a sinister mission. She immediately put off her shoes and rushed to the school premises to alert the principal and other staff of her encounter.
The suspect was dressed in the school uniform, covering her head with Hijab, thereby pretending to be a female student.
Confusion enveloped the school premises immediately, but the situation was calmed by the authorities. By the time people rushed to the scene, the suspect had taken to his heels. The police and other security agencies were informed and took over the security of the school with the gates closed to visitors and movement in and out restricted.
When our correspondent got to the school, some officials of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) , a pick up van of the army, police and SSS were directly opposite the principal’s office, strategizing while normal classes were going on.
Principal of the school, Hajiya Fatima Madugu, who also spoke with our correspondent, said, “Just help us thank God for the alertness of our staff and intervention by God. The mission of the suspect was to disguise as one of our students and sneak to the assembly ground to carry out his dastardly act but God intervened. Before we could mobilise to the scene, the suspect had fled but we immediately alerted the police and other security agencies who mobilised to our compound.”
The female teacher told our correspondent that as the conversation was going on between her and the suspect, fear has gripped her and she was left with no option than to take to her heels. The state police spokesman, DSP Ibrahim Gambari, confirmed the incident but said the attempt should not be seen as an invasion by Boko Haram.
“‘The suspect could be a lunatic but, not withstanding, our men have been drafted to the school for further investigations and I can tell you that the bush around the school has been combed and nothing incriminating found with no arrest made’’.
Meanwhile, the Niger government has suspended morning assembly and other religious gatherings in all schools in the state in order not to attract the attention of criminals. Similarly, because of the porous nature of Maryam Babangida Girls Science College and similar schools, all girls schools in the state will be fenced by next year in order to check insecurity to the affected schools.