Kaduna School Abduction: ‘We’re unsafe at home; our children also unsafe in schools’

*I narrowly escaped being abducted, I’ve lost interest in schooling— Student

By Ibrahim Hassan Wuyo

It was wailing, cries and lamentation yesterday by parents and other close relations of the students who were kidnapped at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation on the outskirts of Kaduna, on Thursday night as they besieged the school demanding the rescue of their children.

While the authorities were assuring that security agents were in hot pursuit of the abductors to rescue the students, some parents lamented that adequate security was not provided in the college before the attack which happened just days after the neighboring Kaduna airport Staff quarters, suffered a similar fate.

Parents’ lamentations

“They moved to the female hostel, where they kidnapped most our daughters,” a crying mother of one of the abducted students had said.

Sobbing, Madam Angelina Babale said, “I live close to the college, and as I was praying at night at about 11: 30 pm on Thursday, I heard sporadic gunshots and I thought it was within our area, so I ran to the Village Head’s house, where I met a large crowd of people.

READ ALSO: Kaduna beef up security at Airport Road, other strategic locations

“The Village Head said the gunshots were from the Forestry College, but we could not go there that night and I started calling my daughter’s line, Blessing Babale who is a student in the school but her line was not going through.

“So, this morning we came to the school and we were told that some of the students were at Ribadu Cantonment, we sent one of my husband’s brothers to go and find out if she was there only to discover that she was not there.

“The stories of students’ abduction that we hear from far away has come near to us, it is so bad that at home we are not safe, in schools our children are equally not safe, the Government needs to do something to stop all these abductions. I am worried and my prayer is for her and others to be released safely.”

A father, Mr Sunday Hai said his daughter, Sarah Sunday had just returned to the school before she was kidnapped.

“My daughter is schooling here. I came to confirm whether she is around or not. I am just confused. I have called the line this morning but later on the phone was switched off.

“She came home on Wednesday, to collect money for some things she needed ahead of her exams next week. So, I just gave her the money yesterday and she returned immediately. If I knew something like this was going to happen, I would not have allowed her to return yesterday.

“I don’t know whether we have security in this country because if actually we have security, see NDA here very close to the school, then how is it possible that bandits would come into the school and start abducting students? I am just confused.

“I was told the bandits broke in through the back and started the abduction. Then, the security operatives broke in through the gate because it was locked, one of the school matrons told me.”

In his lamentation, another parent, Bitrus Shekari said, “I have two children in the school. One of them, a girl has been kidnapped, while the other one is safe.”

A father of one of the college students said his house was not far away from the college and they heard gunshots from 11pm to 12 midnight. “We were not bothered because we were used to such gunshots from the neighboring NDA. It was early morning that my daughters told me female students of the college were kidnapped. Because I live close to the college, my daughters stay at home.”

He explained that it was after the students were taken away that security agents came to the college and moved the remaining students to the NDA for safety.

How I narrowly escaped abduction—Student

Markus Matthew, a student of the school who lived off-campus said “I was not in the school premises when the gunmen attacked, my classmates called me during the operation.

“The school wanted to close since Monday because of what happened at the airport last week, but the security told them not to worry that they were on top of the situation. I learned of the attack yesterday night about 11:30 pm. “

“I was even planning to move to school hostel in preparation for our exams which was billed to start next Thursday. The school is so close to military institutions and we felt we were safe. We have NDA, Army Division was not far from here.

“So, I never expected this to happen, I am in shock. I have lost interest in schooling, I think we are in trouble in this country. From my checks now, five female and eight male students from my department are missing,’ he said.

The army and other security agents have cordoned off the college and patrol vehicles and a helicopter were seen heading towards the Birnin Gwari axis, in search of the missing students.

The latest abduction made nonsense of President Muhammadu Buhari’s assurance to Nigerians on Sunday, February 28 that the Friday February 26 abduction of 279 female students of Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara state would be the last to happen.

The president’s statement was relayed through Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, who led federal government delegation to sympathise with the people and government of Zamfara.

He had said new measures had been developed by the federal government which would bring a complete end to all forms of criminality in the nation saying that the government has all the resources and wherewithal to contain these criminals.

The criminals however struck again around 11.30 pm on Thursday.  According to Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, the armed bandits who came in large number attacked the institution and kidnapped several students and staff.

Troops rescued 180 students, staff— Govt

Meanwhile, the Commissioner claimed that the troops rescued 180 students and staff of the school who were earlier abducted. In his statement, which was faulted by an official of the school, he said “the armed bandits broke into the institution by breaking a perimeter fence.

“They then encroached about 600 meters to attack the first facility. The Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs on receiving a distress call, alerted the 1 Division Nigerian Army and the Air Training Command of the Nigerian Air Force.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Bandits kill six, injure one in Kaduna

“roops of the Nigerian Army immediately moved to the school and engaged the armed bandits accordingly. The troops successfully rescued 180 citizens; 42 female students, eight staff and 130 male students.

“However, 39 students comprising 23 females and 16 males be accounted for. Some of the rescued students were injured and presently receiving medical attention at a military facility. Governor Nasir El-Rufai thanked the troops for their swift response and the rescue of the 180 citizens. He also wished the injured students a speedy recovery”.

The girls only came out of hiding, not rescued— School official

Meanwhile, an official of the school who spoke on the condition of anonymity faulted the claims that 180 students and teachers were rescued by security agents following the attack.

The school official who spoke with TheCable, an online publication said there was no rescue operation, noting that the security personnel only counted the students who came out of hiding after the bandits had left.

The official said the bandits’ point of entry into the school was close to the female hostel. He said some of the female students managed to escape while others were abducted. He said students from other hostels, upon hearing the gunshots, ran into hiding.

According to the official, “We really don’t understand this story about rescuing 180 of the students. In reality, the students were not rescued. When the bandits came, the students ran into hiding.

“In the process of running to escape, many of them got injured. All those abducted were female students because the bandits attacked their hostel which was the closest from where the criminals entered after breaking the fence.

“Some of the female students managed to escape, but about 30 of them were abducted. The truth is that when the security agents arrived the school, all the students came out from hiding and they decided to count them.

“After counting them they moved them to the Old Campus of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) for safety and now they are saying that they rescued them.”

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