…Storm village on foot, lead captives into forest
…Gov Bello vows to provide automatic guns to vigilantes to confront bandits
…Aisha Buhari laments continued abduction of women, girls
…Send girls back to school, African First Ladies urge northern parents
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Wole Mosadomi
No fewer than 30 persons were abducted in the early hours of yesterday by bandits, who invaded Jangaru village in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
The fresh round of kidnap came on a day the First Lady, Dr. Aisha Buhari, expressed sorrow at the continued abduction of women and girls by insurgents and bandits in the country.
This is even as African First Ladies Peace Mission, yesterday, admonished parents in the North to send their daughters back to school, despite the series of abductions of students in that part of the country.
Jangaru is a village close to Zungeru town where series of kidnapping, including that of the abduction of travellers in the Niger State Transport Authority, NSTA, vehicle, had taken place.
The incident took place at about 1.30 am, yesterday.
An impeccable source from the village told Vanguard that the heavily armed bandits sneaked into the village on foot to avoid creating awareness or panic on the villagers.
It was gathered that the bandits had hidden their motorcycles far away from the village and trekked from their “park” to the village and rounded up their victims, who were deeply asleep.
The source added that some of the bandits were left behind with the motorcycles where they were parked, while others trekked into the village to carry out the dastardly act.
The bandits, after arriving the village, were said to have moved from house to house, woke their victims up, stole their belongings and filed them out to where they parked their motocycles and ferried them into the forest.
The source said: “The villagers were caught unawares because they were all sleeping. Again, there was no noise because the kidnappers trekked to the village and there was no gunshot throughout to cause any panic.
“The villagers, who left with nothing, were forced to trek along with them to their motorcycles where they rode into the forest and till now, there is no information about them.”
READ ALSO: Bring abduction to an end, Aisha Buhari begs
Immediately the bandits left, an alarm was said to have been raised by those who escaped the kidnap but it was already too late to trail the kidnappers.
Those taken away included nine Fulani, 20 Gwari, while the tribe of the last abductee could not be immediately ascertained.
All efforts to reach the Chairman of Rafi Local Government Council, Alhaji Ismaila Kagara, on the issue proved abortive.
Similarly, the state police command could not be reached for confirmation at press time but a senior local government official in the area who pleaded anonymity, confirmed the development.
Gov Bello promises to provide automatic guns to confront bandits
Reacting to the latest attack, yesterday, Governor Abubakar Bello, vowed to descend heavily on bandits in the state, promising to equip the vigilante groups with automatic pump action guns to effectively confront them.
The governor, who described the bandits as “enemies of the people,” promised to confront the criminals with everything at his disposal.
Speaking at Kasuwan Garba in Mariga Local Government Area when he met with over 200 members of vigilantes in the area, the governor said they will all be equipped for the assignment ahead.
He said: “Henceforth, all vigilantes in the state will be provided with Automatic Pump Action Gun to enable them take the fight to the bandits in their hideouts.”
‘Similarly, he said he will not be intimidated by the bandits asking the government to disband the vigilante group as one of the conditions for a ceasefire.
He said: “There is no amount of threat from the bandits that will force the government to disband the vigilante group in the state.
“We are not going to disband the vigilantes as a result of threat from the bandits even when the banditry activities in the state stops. The vigilantes will still be there to provide security at the local government areas.’’
The governor further re-emphasized the state government’s stands that it will not go into any form of negotiation with the bandits nor pay ransom for the release of kidnapped victims in the state.
He, however, noted that any bandit that repents and surrenders his weapons would be reintegrated into the society and settle to live a normal life.
“There will be no dialogue but any of them that repents and surrenders his weapons will be forgiven and we will compensate such bandits to be able to live a normal live in the society,” Bello said.
Aisha Buhari lament continued abduction of women, girls
Reacting to the spate of kidnapping in the country, especially Northern Nigeria, yesterday, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, lamented the negative impact the development has had on women and children.
The First Lady in a message she released to mark the 2021 edition of International Women’s Day, said she was not unaware of the impact the action had on reversing the gains already made on girl child education.
She said: “Away from COVID-19, women and girls in Nigeria have continued to suffer abductions both in the hands of insurgents and bandits.
“As a mother, I share the sorrow and agony of the victims and their families. I am also not unaware of the impact that these abductions could have in reversing many successes we have hitherto achieved, especially in terms of girl-child education and early marriages.
“I call on all stakeholders to continue to exert their different levels of influence and bring these abductions to an end and to assure us that girls are safe anywhere they may find themselves.”
She said this year’s theme, “Women in leadership: Achieving on equal future in a COVID-19 world,” was a strong call to appreciate the efforts of women and girls in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
Send girls back to school, African First Ladies urge northern parents
Meanwhile, a group, African First Ladies Peace Mission, has admonished parents in the North to send their daughters back to school, despite the series of abductions of students in that part of the country.
The mission promised to employ advocacy towards encouraging parents to send their female wards and children to school.
Mairo Al-Makura, Special Assistant to the AFLPM President, Aisha Buhari, stated this while speaking with journalists during the commemoration of the International Women’s Day celebration, yesterday.
She said: “Not allowing them (female students) to come back to school would have negative impact on the quest to raise the level of education in the north.
“Although, the attack and kidnapping of the schoolgirls in the North was discouraging but the fear of the parents not to allow their kids back to school will be counter-productive as the aim of the criminals would have been achieved.”
“Although, we have seen tremendous progress on women’s rights and leadership over the last few years, the pandemic is threatening to reverse the gains that have been made,” she added.
According to her, the pandemic has disproportionally impacted women in many areas, particularly in terms of gender-based violence.
Al-Makura noted, “While the world implemented lockdown measures introduced to curb the pandemic, there has been a spike in reported domestic violence and conflict-related violence against women and girls.
“To ensure that the COVID-19 response and recovery acknowledge their realities, women need to have a seat at the decision-making table.”