By Patrick Okohue
The abduction yesterday of over 300 schoolgirls at the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the TalataMafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State by unknown gunmen, eight days after over 42 persons including 27 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, Niger State, were abducted is eliciting serious outrage among the people.
The abduction according to a staffer of the school, who begged for anonymity, happened around 1am on Friday when the bandits arrived in the school in Hilux vehicles and motorcycles and forcefully evacuated the students.
He narrated that some of the bandits were in uniforms and pretended to be security personnel, then later broke into the students hostels and abducted more than 300 students.
“When they came into the school, we thought they were security personnel, but to our utmost fear and dismay, they started putting the girls into Hilux vehicles and motorcycles then drove out of the school,” the source said, adding that the bandits were in the school for several hours without any challenge due to absence of security agents.
A parent of one of the girls, who gave his fainted when I heard about the abduction of the students including my daughter.”
Enraged by the development, some residents of Jangebe in Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara on Friday protested the abduction of the students in the town.
The residents, in a mob fashion, took to the streets, destroying vehicles that were coming into the village.
The residents, including women and children, used sticks and stones to attack vehicles, including two vehicles conveying journalists from various media houses into the town, injuring a cameraman.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Abutu Yaro, and the state Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran, have appealed to the protesting residents.
The Zamfara government has earlier confirmed the abduction via the office of the state Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran.
He said that the abductors invaded the town and took away the students at about 2 a.m. “At this moment, l cannot say how many students were taken away by the gunmen until l get there, but we have already mobilised security men and members of the vigilantatè who are now in pursuit of the abductors,” the commissioner stated.
Also reacting to the abduction, a political group, Tinubu Vanguard, condemned the ceaseless attacks and abductions of schoolchildren by bandits in parts of Northern Nigeria, describing it as an attack on the country’s educational system.
The Director-General of the group, Dr Johnny Benjamin, who said this in a statement Friday in Abuja, called on the government and other stakeholders to take urgent steps to address the situation.
“The continued abduction of school children in Nigeria by bandits is condemnable and totally unacceptable, especially the most recent of such abduction of the Kagara Schoolboys in Niger, and the Government Girls Secondary School in Zamfara.
“This is a clear indication that there is a deliberate attack targeted at discouraging our citizens from sending their children to school, thereby killing our educational system.
“Any attack on the education of a country is to destabilise and cripple the development of that country.
“We urge the government and other stakeholders at all levels to redouble their efforts to rescue all our children in captivity, improve our security apparatus and ensure the security of lives and property,” he said.
Benjamin also urged state and local governments in the country to equally enhance security in schools within their domain so as to forestall such abductions.
“While we commend the Federal Government on its efforts in securing our people, we call on the states and local governments who also swore to the same responsibility as the Federal Government to complement the efforts of the Federal Government.
“We equally call on our people to be conscious and vigilant as security is everybody’s business.
Citizens should report suspicious movements in their environments to the security agencies,” he advised.
Meanwhile the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern over the attack on Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata-Mafara Local Government of Zamfara State, where a number of girls were kidnapped.
UNICEF in a statement by its representative in Nigeria, Mr Peter Hawkins, through the UNICEF C o m m u n i c a t i o n s Specialist, Mr Sam Kaalu, and made available to newsmen on Friday in Katsina, said “We are angered and saddened by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria.
“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through, which will have long lasting effects on their mental health and well-being.
“We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately, and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria,” he said.
Hawkins said that children should feel safe at home and at school, at all times. “UNICEF acknowledges efforts being made by the Government of Nigeria to secure the release of kidnapped schoolchildren and calls on the government and all concerned to make schools safe in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the development, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Shehu, said, “We are right now on our way going to the school where the incident happened.”
Shehu said that, the police would brief the press when they returned from Jangebe town where the students were abducted.