The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria and the Coalition of Northern Groups have urged the Federal Government to match its words with actions by stopping kidnapping of students in the country.
The groups, which stated this in separate interviews on Sunday, recalled that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), last month said the kidnapping of students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangede, Zamfara State would be the last.
They said these as parents of abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State told one of our correspondents that they would on Monday (today) meet the school authorities to discuss the demand of the abductors of their children.
Recall that there has been an upsurge in the abduction of students in the country. On February 17, gunmen kidnapped 42 students and workers of Government Science College, Kagara in Niger State.
Two weeks later, 317 students were abducted at the GGSS, Jangede, Zamfara State.
On Friday, gunmen stormed the school in Afaka, Kaduna State and abducted 37 students, whose video was released by the abductors, who demanded a N500m ransom.
Some parents, said they would discuss the demand of the bandits when they meet the school authorities on Monday (today).
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Bandits have been reaching out to school management – Abducted students’ parents
They acknowledged that the school management had been briefing them since the incident occurred, but there was the need for them to formally meet the management on the way out.
One of them said, “The bandits have been reaching out to the management and in fairness, they (the management) has briefed us, but we want to see how we can liaise for the release of our children.
“As parents, we are anxious to see how our children can come out. Some of us have watched the viral video and you don’t expect us to sit down and do nothing or contribute.
“We are calling on the government assist us to ensure that the children are rescued unhurt and safe.”
“We are going to meet with the management tomorrow(Monday)to fashion out way on how best we can get our children back unhurt and safe,” one of the parents said.
When asked how the state government was going about with the negotiations with the bandits, the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, simply referred the correspondent to the text of a press conference he addressed earlier on Sunday.
At the press conference, he said the government focus was on getting back the kidnapped students and preventing future occurrence of the incident in the state.
He stated, “The Kaduna State Government acknowledges the efforts of the security agencies in the recent rescue of 180 students in the vicinity of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka. These efforts have been mentioned in interviews given by some of the rescued students.
“The Kaduna State Government maintains a clear focus at this time, and that is to ensure the safe return of the missing students, and to consolidate intelligence gathering and security vigilance towards forestalling possible attempts on other facilities or institutions.
“As a government, our focus is on getting back our missing students and preventing further episodes of school abductions. We will continue to provide updates as further information becomes available.”
We can’t arm our children, national parents’ association laments
But as parents of the abducted Kaduna students planned to meet the school management, National President of the NAPTAN, Mr Haruna Danjuma, on Sunday bemoaned the incessant kidnapping of students in the country.
He said, “We are in a situation where we don’t know what to do because we don’t have arms to give to the children. We have government which is supposed to be responsible for protecting the lives of the people of Nigeria. We expect them to do so. All we are saying is that as parents, we don’t have the power to face the kidnappers. The kidnappers have made the kidnapping of our children a lucrative business.
“We want government to do all they could to secure our children. We have entrusted government with the lives of our children and as parents. we don’t have power to secure those children.
“This is not the first time students are being kidnapped. They told us the last would be the last, but it kept happening. Nobody knows what the plans of kidnappers are. Is government saying we should withdraw our children and keep them at home or we should keep them in the colleges and allow them to be kidnapped? They should please save the lives of these children.
“We are appealing to government to do the needful. They have the trained security personnel. They know what to do to reach out to our children. We have security personnel who know how to get those children without a single bullet (being fired). We also learnt that they are being maltreated. Government should please help us.”
Bandits, insurgents ridiculing Presidency – CNG
On his part, the CNG spokesman, Abdul-azeez Suleiman, flayed the President over the promise he made a few weeks ago that Zamfara students’ abduction would be the last.
He said, “The President’s remark is merely the usual rhetoric that has been going on without results. I don’t think he was taken seriously. The danger it portends is imminent, especially with the way the criminals find easy in calling the bluffs and ridiculing the Presidency and the national security assets.
“The main problem with the administration is its failure to learn from lessons of history. Buhari ought to have known by now that every banditry is more or less about attention seeking. We can all recall that every time government makes any threat or boast of gaining over the criminals, the more daring attacks are attracted.
“The spate of violations of schools is certainly aimed at rubbishing the President’s vow that the Jangebe kidnapping was the last. They are carried out to make a statement and prove the ugly point that government and security agencies are incompetent to challenge them.
“The attacks have exposed the huge vacuum in the government’s political will and capacity to deal with the situation. We have for long pointed at the administration’s failure in the vital area of providing security for citizens.”
But the pan-northern socio-political organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, rose in defence of the President over his comment that the kidnap of the GGSS students would be the last.
The ACF through the National Publicity Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, on Sunday told one of our correspondents in a chat that Buhari is not God that could see tomorrow.
According to the ACF spokesman, Buhari’s word is meant to restore hope to Nigerians.
He said, “The President is not God. Only God can see tomorrow. His statement should not be taken in the literal sense. I think it was meant to restore hope. This is a security matter that should not be openly discussed here.”
Troops foil fresh kidnap of Kaduna students, airport quarters’ attack
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government says bandits stormed Government Science Secondary School, Ikara in the Ikara Local Government Area of the state in an attempt to kidnap students of the school.
The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, who confirmed this at a press conference on Sunday, said the 307 students were rescued unhurt by troops who foiled the attempted kidnap.
The attack, according to the commissioner, took place between Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday.
This was just as the commissioner also said bandits again attempted to attack a senior staff quarters around the Kaduna Airport general area but were repelled by combined troops of the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army.
On the foiled attempt on the school, Aruwan said upon alerting security operatives on the bandits invasion by the students, the troops of the Nigerian Army, Police and some security volunteers moved swiftly to the school and engaged the bandits, forcing them to flee.
Aruwan said, “Fortunately, the students utilised the security warning system in place, and were thus able to alert security forces in the area. The security forces comprising the troops of the Nigerian Army, Police and some security volunteers moved swiftly to the school and engaged the bandits, forcing them to flee.
“The military and police are still on the trail of the bandits. Following a headcount by the school management, the Kaduna State Government can confirm to you that all 307 students have been verified safe and present. The attempted kidnap was foiled completely and no student was taken from the school.”
He added that around Ifira village in the Igabi Local Government Area, bandits attempted to attack a senior staff quarters around the Kaduna Airport general area.
He added, “This attempt was also foiled as troops of the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army engaged and repelled them, with several escaping with gunshot wounds.”