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Kankara kidnap: The security loopholes

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President Muhammadu Buhari addressing the abducted students in Katsina, December 18th, 2020. PHOTO Bayo Omoboriowo

…Why kidnap of students may continue

By Evelyn Usman

Nigerians were greeted last week with the   news   of   kidnap of more than 300 students- all boys, from the Government Science Secondary School,Kankara, Katsina state.

The mode of operation in the abduction of the students who never envisaged an impending danger , was same as that of 276 girls abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School, in the remote town of Chibok , Bornu State, on April 14, 2014, by the Boko Haram sect.

Worry

Arms wielding strangers were said to have invaded the school Friday night, on more than 100 motorbikes. The audacity with which they operated leaves one to worry over the safety of   students across    secondary schools in the country. It also shows a brazen disregard for security agents.

They operated for   close to one hour and made the students sit in threes, on their operational motorbikes , before zooming off, leaving dusty haze billowing.

After this, the  boys were made to walk long distance into the forest ,in the process of which one of them collapsed out of exhaustion. Perhaps as they were being led into the bush, different thoughts and imaginations on what fate had in store for them, went through their minds,   unsure  f whether or not, they would ever be   reunited with their loved ones again.

However, some Nigerians are of the view that report of the students abduction could be   a hoarse after all. This is because of the conflicting figure of the abducted students.. While a section   claimed only seven students were abducted, others said more than 500 students were involved, while the   widely reported figure was pegged at 333. When they were released yesterday, government announced that they were 343.

Another reason for this position is the fact that the school was accused of not posting names and pictures of   students abducted, as done during the Chibok case.

A serving senior Military personnel who spoke on the condition of anonymity, dared authorities of the     Government Science Senior Secondary school to publish names of the affected students.

Conspiracy

The personnel said : “      There is a   high level   conspiracy issue in the reported   abduction saga. First,   there is no way some people will come with 100 motorcycles and carry three persons each and at the end evacuate over 300 persons and in that mass movement , people said they didn’t   know where they were.

Is the location of the school so isolated that only motorcycles can access it? Besides,   there is no way they would be carrying these children in different motorbikes and none of them shouted or tried to escape.

However, if you are to look at it and assumed it happened so easily, then, we should begin to ask the Police   what   they were   doing about it?   They have their check points , why didn’t they stop those people to interrogate them when they were coming or going? You know that they normally stop motorbikes to question them.   How could   they see motorbikes carrying  children in uniform at that ungodly hour and didn’t stop them?.

Again, were there no adults in   the school? Were all the adults kidnapped as well? Why didn’t they make any phone call to state what was happening. And  why were   pictures of the students not published? At least they have documents in the school.

Now, we have Army unit, they did not call them, they did not call the police unit which usually patrol. In that area we also have JTF and the Army also has   its point there. Were they not aware of such movements  that night?

I think there are lots of explanation for the people, otherwise it is a very clear issue that something is fishing somewhere”.

Abduction as bait

Information at Saturday Vanguard’s disposal revealed that the abduction was used as   a bait by bandits to get the attention of government and force it to its knee to part with ransom. For every release of abducted students in   previous cases, there had reportedly been negation between government and the abductors.

READ ALSO: Troops kill 9 terrorists, capture more equipment in Borno ― DHQ

For instance, three   million Euros was alleged to have been paid by government for the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls , with about 100 of them still in captivity.

Sources said that an undisclosed amount of money was   paid to splinter groups of   the   Boko Haram by middlemen, on behalf of   government, in a bid to appease them from causing unrest   in the country.

However, when this amount said to be paid in foreign currencies isn’t forth coming, the insurgents would launch a major attack on children, such as the recent abduction, as a means of forcing their financial benefactors to pact with cash.

Security lapses  

The abduction of more than 300 students also showed an evident lacuna in the proactive response of security agencies to distress calls and the deficiency of technological devices to combat crimes in the 21st century.

Had they shown up on time, perhaps   the number of the kidnapped  boys would have been minimal. It still beats one’s imagination   how such a number of students was moved from the school and made to trek long distance into the bush unhindered.

Though the Katsina Sate Police Command said   confrontation between its men and the bandits paved way for the  escape of some of the students, it  would have been expected for there to be hot pursuit , with the display of technological logistics that could have rendered the mission of the invaders fruitless.

Security experts, civil society speak

Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, RULAAC, Mr Okechukwu Nwanguma, who   described the abduction of the boys as a case of “ cluelessness, incompetence”   said it also showed lack of military capability to tackle insecurity. According to him , “ Buhari and members of his government criticized the previous administration of Jonathan for being clueless and incompetent in tackling insecurity. They even called on President

Jonathan to resign  But since this government came on board, insecurity has worsened.   Wem had expected that they would rescue the Chibok girls abducted during the previous government which they made a lot of political campaign about. Nearly six years in government, the Buhari administration has failed to rescue all the Chibok girls.

“Buhari has failed to heed widespread calls by the Senate and House of Representatives and a cross section of Nigerians to replace the service chiefs right from the time their tenure expired two years ago. But for inexplicable reasons, he has continued to retain them even when they   have reached their wits ends with regards to addressing increasing insecurity in the North East and across Nigeria. “We have seen many videos of Army officers complaining about being poorly paid and inadequately equipped to confront Boko Haram. Many of the officers have been arrested and detained incommunicado with the fate of some of them, especially, the junior ranks, unknown,   just for speaking out   about   poor condition of operation and being sent to battle fronts ill equipped.

“Recently,   a military court in Abuja   convicted the former Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole,   Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, who once led the country’s onslaught against Boko Haram   The tribunal found   Adeniyi,   guilty after he was court marshaled for complaining about inadequate equipment for the military to combat terrorism.

“The US government recently demonstrated its   loss of confidence in leaving the safety of its citizens in the hands of the Nigerian government when it sent its special forces to mount an operation in Nigeria to free an American citizen who had been kidnapped by armed men. I also read the Commander of ‘Operation Safe Haven in Kaduna saying that the military did not have enough manpower to tackle the violence in the southern part of   Kaduna and blamed the military’s inability to respond to distress calls to this shortfall in resources, including manpower . “I understand that government   negotiated   with the abductors of the school boys. That is a confirmation of the lack of military capability.

The danger of negotiating with bandits to secure the release of kidnapped children is that it does not ensure that the crime is not committed again. In fact, it encourages it. They can kidnap as often as they can, just for government to negotiate with them and pay them.

It is clear that the Nigerian government lacks the clue, the competence and military capability to tackle insecurity.   The government should humbly seek assistance from other countries to tackle insecurity”

Expect more kidnap

Security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu,   accused the Katsina State government and the school authorities of negligence , over failure to conduct what he described as risk assessments that would have enabled them predict the   attack on the school.

To him, the attack was foreseeable and preventable. He stated that as surrogates of parents to the    students,schools authorities had   a duty to anticipate security threats and take steps to mitigate them so that students were not harmed by malevolent actors such as armed bandits.

He said, “The logistics of moving over 330 captives indicated that the school was targeted.

More school attacks should be expected in the North-West states”.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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