Whereabouts of captives still unknown
Kano closes boarding schools
PDP: Presidency should clear the air
By Bashir Bello, Ibrahim HassanWuyo, Omeiza Ajayi, Luminous Jannamike
Some of the students who escaped when gunmen raided Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe, Zamfara State, yesterday, recounted their ordeal, saying female fighters were among dozens of kidnappers who abducted them.
The revelation came as the whereabouts of the 317 kidnapped school girls remained unknown.
Gunmen had stormed the school on Friday and abducted 317 schoolgirls. Seven of the girls reportedly escaped from captivity.
One of the students, who identified herself as Madina Hamisu Kawaye, said she was sleeping when a woman wielding a gun, woke her up.
She said: “I was sleeping deeply, the woman wore dark clothes and was holding a gun. She was hitting the building with her gun to wake us up from sleep.
“I stood up confused, I realised all the girls in our hostel were taken outside, some were covered with blankets.
“I stealthily hid under a bed. Two other girls hid under the bed too, when the female combatant moved to wake other girls from sleep.”
“I heard one of the gunmen telling someone on the phone that they were already inside the school and were gathering the students. I also heard another gunman speaking in Fulani language.”
Another student, Zainab, who escaped said she sneaked and hid in a toilet when the gunmen were gathering the students, near the school’s Masjid.
“I ran away from the gathering and hid in the toilet. I stayed there until I heard gunshots and movement of vehicles that moved the students away,” she narrated.
To forestall occurrence in neighbouring Kano State, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje ordered the immediate shutting down of tertiary institutions in border areas.
The state Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr. Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, said students of affected institutions are expected to vacate campuses as soon as possible.
Bunkure said a new date for the reopening of the institutions would be communicated later.
The schools include Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso College of Advanced and Remedial Studies, Tudun Wada, School of Environmental Studies, Gwarzo, School of Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship Dev (SORTED) Rano and ABCOAD, Dambatta.
In a related development, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, urged state governors across the nation to explore avenues that give them more constitutional powers to secure citizens.
It also lamented what it called the inability of the Federal Government to muster the will to limit citizens’ exposure to criminals, saying that despite assurances from government to end banditry and kidnappings, the lives of the people were becoming more endangered by the day.
The northern elders said any state governor who, in a bid to secure the people, took steps that bore dubious legal foundations, was merely compounding the insecurity in the land.
NEF, which is an elite association of elder statesmen of northern extraction, stated this while reacting to the kidnapping of the girls.
The forum’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spoke in a statement available to journalists in Abuja on Saturday.
He said: “Northern Elders Forum shares the profound shock and outrage of Nigerians at the spate of kidnappings of boarding school children in different parts of the North.
“The latest reported kidnapping of more than hundreds of female students in Zamfara State follows the abduction of students of GSC, Kagara, Niger State.
“Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions recurring as bandits engage in copycat crimes in a region that is unprotected, these abductions will severely damage the poor state of education in the North, particularly girl-child education.
“It has become painfully obvious that the federal government is unable to muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of Nigerians to violent criminals. Governors have been left to quarrel over causes and strategies.
“Many are taking steps that have dubious legal foundations, most of which merely compound the state of security of the citizen in the country.
On its part, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said government is now focused on securing the release of the abducted girls.
National Secretary of the party’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Sen. James Akpanudoedehe, disclosed this in a statement issued Saturday in Abuja.
The party also expressed delight at the release of Niger State Transport Authority passengers.
“It is truly heartwarming that the abductees have been reunited with their families and loved ones. We appreciate government’s efforts at all levels including nonstate actors which ensured the safe release of the abductees.
“While President Muhammadu Buhari government’s resolve and capacity to end cowardly attacks on soft targets is not in doubt, we must collectively do more to end the scourge, particularly tighter security around schools.
“We assure Nigerians that focus is on the safe release of schoolgirls abducted from Government Girls Junior Secondary School Jangebe, Zamfara State”, APC said in the statement.
Also, Chairman Ansaru-Deen Society of Nigeria, Kaduna branch, Alhaji Mohammed Liadi Olapade, said Nigeria’s future is threatened by the constant abduction of students.
Olapade stated this in Kaduna during the 8th Day Fidau Prayer for the late Chief Imam of Ansaru-Deen, Alhaji Salaudeen Mohammed Jamiu.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to clear the air on what it called the alleged complicity of some persons in the abduction of the students.
In a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “There are already insinuations in the public space that the abduction was plotted by unscrupulous high-level officials, who are allegedly benefitting from the insurgency, terrorism and banditry going on in our country.
“In tasking the Buhari Presidency over the perplexing reports, the PDP particularly demands that the National Security Adviser, NSA, Gen. Babagana Mongunu, should come clean on the allegations that the escalation of acts of terrorism including the rampant kidnapping of students, was masterminded to heat up the situation.
“Our party and indeed, all well-meaning Nigerians, insist that the Buhari Presidency must not keep quiet in the face of these huge allegations but immediately clear the air and restore confidence in the hearts of Nigerians before it is too late.”