By Adesina Wahab, James Ogunnaike & Ikechukwu Odu, LAGOS
Gunmen on rampage have in the past two days, kidnapped no fewer than 40 persons in Kebbi, Ogun and Enugu states, killing two policemen in the process.
While the kidnap of 30 students and teachers of Federal Government College, Birni Yauri, Kebbi State, and four Chinese railway workers took place Thursday, six residents of Aguamade Village, Eha-Amufu, Isi-Uzo Local Government Area of Enugu State, were allegedly abducted on Wednesday.
The two slain policemen were killed in the kidnap attacks in Kebbi and Ogun states.
Storm Kebbi school
On the Kebbi attack, Vanguard learned that the bandits stormed the school around 12:30pm, and engaged the mobile policemen guarding the school in a gun duel.
In the process, one of the policemen was said to have been shot dead by some of the bandits, while others invaded the school premises from behind.
While some of the students were reportedly wounded in the shootout, five teachers, including a female and the school’s vice-principal, were said to be among the students taken away in a bus belonging to a parent.
READ ALSO: Gunmen abduct four, kill policeman in Ogun
A teacher in the school told Vanguard that they received information days before yesterday’s attack that there was a plan by bandits to invade Birnin Yauri community.
According to the teacher who pleaded anonymity, the information informed the deployment of a detachment of mobile policemen to the school to ward off any attack.
The teacher said the policemen were, however, overpowered in the shoot-out that ensued between them and the bandits.
He said after abducting the victims, the bandits used a bus belonging to the parent of the student who came to the school to pick his son who was to write JAMB on Saturday, to evacuate them.
He said in the confusion that ensued after the attack, the school authorities were unable to conduct a headcount to ascertain the number of the abducted students.
But it was gathered that at least 30 students and three teachers were taken away by the bandits.
“All I can tell you now is that one of the policemen guarding the school was killed. Many of our students, both male and female, were abducted by the bandits. It is a co-educational school; you know, it is a Federal Government College.
“Three or four teachers of the college were abducted. Out of the abductees, there is a vice-principal and a female teacher.
“Two students, a male and female, were shot by the bandits. The boy was shot in the buttocks, while the girl sustained a gunshot injury on her arm.”
‘Police after the bandits’
Confirming the attack, the state police command said a combined team of police operatives was in pursuit of the bandits.
Police Public Relations Officer of the command, DSP Nafi’u Abubakar, who confirmed the attack and abduction, said: “The team, comprising operatives from the Police Mobile Force, Anti-kidnapping and Counter-terrorism units are currently combing nearby forests, routes and suspected hideouts of the criminals.
“The Kebbi State Commissioner of Police, CP Adeleke Adeyinka, condemned the attack. The attack resulted in the death of one policeman and gunshot injury to one of the students.
“The command is following credible leads and intensifying efforts to track the assailants and ensure the rescue of the missing students and teachers”.
The commissioner of police also appealed to residents of Kebbi to assist the police with prompt information that would aid in apprehending the criminals.
He assured the public that the command would do everything within its power to ensure that the abducted persons “are safely reunited with their families and perpetrators brought to book”.
“The truth is that the attack took place and five teachers have been taken away, four male and one female, but the number of students abducted are not known yet.
“The attack took place around noon and during the crossfire between police and the bandits, some students had been injured and one police officer was also injured and another was killed. These are the facts I can give to you,” he said.
The police commissioner said the school principal who should provide details of the number of students abducted was still in shock.
“The principal is not in the best state of mind as I am speaking to you now, because parents have trooped into the school searching for their children. So the principal cannot make proper head count call,” he added.
NAPTAN to use local hunters
Recall that no fewer than 700 students have been abducted in the school attacks since December 2020.
Reacting to the abduction, National Parent Teachers Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, which expressed frustration at the development, said it was already in talks with local hunters to help secure schools across the country, following the apparent failure of government and its agencies.
The National President, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, who was reaching to the abduction of some students of the Federal Government Girls College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi State, noted that state apparatus to protect schools had failed.
“Only yesterday, Wednesday, we sent a delegation to Abuja to meet some security experts and local hunter groups to discuss the way forward in securing our schools.
“As parents, we cannot just fold our arms and watch our schools shut down by the activities of those who are opposed to the growth of education in the country.
“We hope to quickly conclude arrangements with the hunters and we will draw them to help secure schools in their localities. The public security apparatus seems unable to cope. We have been hearing of security agencies saying they don’t have enough manpower.
“Also, we want to challenge our state governors to justify the security votes they are given. The President said it recently that state governors and even local government chairmen get security votes monthly.
“What are they using the money for? The security of lives and properties of the citizen is very important,” he said.
‘Abductions now like revolving chair’
Also reacting, the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Dr Mike Ene, said the manner abduction of students was going could be likened to a revolving barber’s chair.
“Today it is Niger, tomorrow it is Kaduna, where are we heading? It is like when one attends a funeral service and the preacher says nobody knows who will die next.
“Our schools have become soft targets for these criminal elements. My sympathy goes to NUT National President who is from Kebbi State and the state governor who is teacher-friendly.
“If a unity school owned by the Federal Government is attacked, what becomes of other schools? Unity schools have students from across the country and even from outside the country. The schools are supposed to be protected and see what has happened.
“However, all stakeholders in the sector, — government, teachers, parents and even students should not cave in to threats. Our schools would not be shut down. Everybody will rise up to tackle the menace, “ he said
4 Chinese abducted in Ogun
In Ogun State, gunmen, suspected to be kidnappers yesterday abducted four workers of a Chinese company handling the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project and killed a policeman in the process.
The eight gunmen, according to an eyewitness account, who were dressed in black caftan, stormed the site of the rail project at Adeaga/Alaagba village in Odeda Local Government Area, killed one of the policemen guarding the victims before taking away the four Chinese workers.
It was learned that the fierce-looking gunmen, suspected to be herdsmen, had laid ambush in the surrounding forest for the expatriates in the sleepy village located along Oyo -Ogun states border.
Confirming the kidnap yesterday, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the command has deployed tactical teams on the trail of the kidnappers.
Oyeyemi, however, said the police could not ascertain whether the gunmen were herdsmen.
“It is true, the incident happened yesterday, the victims are Chinese expatriates working at the construction site at the terminus of the railway around Alaagba area, not far from Kila.
“The gunmen laid ambush for the victims on their way and they were attacked. A police officer escorting them was killed.”
“We have started the investigation; we are on the trail of those people and hopefully, we are going to get them.
“All our tactical teams have been deployed to that direction and we are trying to locate them and we believe that by the grace of God, we are going to get them.
“We cannot say for now if the abductors are herdsmen until we are able to get them,” the PPRO said.
6 kidnapped in Enugu
In Enugu State, no fewer than six persons were allegedly kidnapped at Aguamade village, Eha-Amufu, in Isi-Uzo Local Government Area by suspected herdsmen on Wednesday.
A motorcyclist, identified as Chukwuma Egwu, was also reportedly killed by the assailants, as Vanguard gathered that the kidnappers are demanding N10 million ransom to release the abductors.
Community sources identified those kidnapped as Mercy Olinye, Joseph Ede, Joachin Odo, Odanyu Ala, Chidubem Nwokocha, and Chukwuma Odo.
But the state police command said in a statement yesterday that it was yet to receive any report about the abduction,
The statement, signed by spokesman of the command, Daniel Ndukwe, read: “Be informed that the command has not received any formal complaint from any person or group of persons, alleging the kidnap of six persons at Aguamade Village in Eha-Amufu Community of Isi-Uzo LGA, neither has credible information at the disposal of the Police proved that such incident occurred in the area.
“To set the record straight, Isi-Uzo Division of the Command on 07/06/2021 at about 0645hrs, only received an information that the lifeless body of a commercial motorcyclist, identified as one Chukwuma Egwu (m), of Ihenyi-Agarama village in the same Eha-Amufu community, was found at Pipeline, along Eha-Amufu Road; causing the DPO to immediately lead a team of Police operatives of the Division to the scene.
“Unfortunately, the team was prevented by residents, especially youths, from evacuating the said lifeless body to the hospital for preservation and conduct of autopsy that will facilitate thorough investigation and unravelling of the circumstances surrounding his death. The said residents further threatened to attack the Police if they attempt to do otherwise.
“Sadly too, no person or group of persons has, till date, volunteered to formally report and/or avail the Police of credible information regarding the alleged publicized criminal acts of murder and kidnap in the community.
‘’Therefore, the affected or interested persons are hereby urged to formally report these incidents as alleged and accord the Police all the necessary assistance required to get to the root of the allegations.”