I spent hours trekking back into the school premises
•I’ve never witnessed such a thing in my life —School principal
By Wole Mosadomi
Last Wednesday, February 17 was a day staff and students of Government Science College, Kagara, in Niger State would live to remember. That was the day 27 students, three members of staff and 12 family members of the staff of the school were abducted by bandits in the middle of the night.
As they were marched out of their staff quarters and hostels, the bandits tied them in pairs with ropes to form a long chain to ensure that they did not escape. They were then made to walk few kilometers away from the college to where the bandits had stationed their motorcycles and ferried their victims into the bush.
One of the staff of the school simply identified as Batagi who escaped from the bandits described his experience as harrowing. He said the victims were ferried in twos or threes out of the area on motorcycles into the bush before day break.
According to him,”my escape is a miracle. I spent hours trekking back after my abduction and arrived the school premises around 6:am. The bandits were able to gain access into the school easily because the security of the school is porous. The bandits assembled their victims, tied them together in twos or threes with rope and whisked them to an unknown destination”.
Narrating his own experience in an interview, the principal of the school, Dan Asabe Ebaidu said the number of the bandits could not be ascertained because it was in the night. He said, “the bandits were many but I cannot say the actual number since it was midnight.
They came on foot but we later discovered that they had abandoned their motorcycles in a neighbouring secondary school in order not to raise any alarm when entering the school especially as it was in the night.
“When we saw them, they were dressed in army uniform and we thought they were on routine security parade until they started rounding up the students and led them away from the hostel into the bush.
I miraculously escaped from the bandits and how it happened, I cannot explain. In my life, I have never witnessed such thing”. Malam Dan Asabe said the bandits succeeded in kidnapping the staff and their relatives because the staff quarters was their first point of call where they abducted 12 of the staff and their relatives.
Immediately the bandits arrived the hostel, they were said to have woken up the students and warned them not to panic and should not raise alarm. However, one of the students, Benjamin Abila, an SS3 student, who apparently sensed danger was said to have raised the alarm calling on his colleagues to run for safety and he was gunned down immediately by the bandits.
How the kidnap was carried out
The security at the school was said to be very porous as there was no perimeter fence protecting the school because the school fence had collapsed. The bandits who stormed the area few minutes before 2 am were said to have had a stop over in another Secondary school; Attahiru Secondary School in Kagara, where they parked their motorcycles few kilometers to the Science College and trekked to the targeted school.
They disguised by wearing Army camouflage pretending to be security personnel. They first moved straight to the residence of the staff, kidnapped almost everybody they met sleeping before proceeding to the hostels of the students.
In the past few years, bandits have wrecked havoc on many villages in different local government areas of the state. In fact, it is on record that eighteen out of the twenty five local government areas of the state are under the siege of the bandits.
Many residents had been killed or maimed and thousands rendered homeless while farms have been abandoned and taken over by the bandits thereby rendering the villagers who are predominantly farmers jobless.
Condition of the school
Government Science College, Kagara was established as a purely Science oriented College in 1969. It took off very well as it has produced outstanding students across the country. However, the College is presently a shadow of itself.
There was no perimeter fence to provide adequate security for both staff and students of the School. Almost all the buildings were dilapidated. It is unbelievable that students could pass a night in such dilapidated and dehumanizing buildings.
The windows in the student hostels were also in a sorry state. The louvers of the windows and doors have all broken off making the students vulnerable to cold, mosquitoes and other forms of attack. The roof of the hostels were also leaking while the ceilings have fallen off thereby causing intense heat.
Above all, the students were forced to sleep on the mats which were not even enough for all the students.
The school could best be described as an abandoned property which could serve as hiding place for hoodlums or meant for animals and reptiles as their abode.
This was where the students had been residing for the past years unattended to until the bandits struck last Wednesday.
The state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello has however ordered the immediate closure of all boarding schools in the areas most affected by the insecurity in Shiroro, Munyan, Rafi and Mariga until the situation improves.