From Katsina To Niger To Zamfara: How Bandits Abducted Over 670 Students In Three Months

Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.
Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.

 

Securing the lives and properties of the people is a major responsibility of the Nigerian government, as mandated by the nation’s constitution.

But, for years, the rate of insecurity in the country has been on the rise, including insurgency and banditry in the North, and the activities of killer herdsmen across the South.

Other crimes such as armed robbery, cultism, kidnap for ransom, and internet fraud, among others, cannot be ignored.

The alarming rate of insecurity has sparked an outcry in the country, especially the increased activities of bandits who seemed to have turned schools into soft targets.

In less than 12 weeks, gunmen have attacked three secondary schools and made away with innocent children numbering over 670.

Three Years In Captivity

These attacks, which raised concerns from within and outside Nigeria, were preceded by similar incidents in Nigeria’s north-east region.

Perpetrated by the Boko Haram insurgents, a secondary school in Chibok, a town in Borno State, was attacked and 276 students were kidnapped in April 2014.

While the girls were released in batches and others escaped from captivity over the years, unconfirmed reports said an additional number of girls escaped in January 2021.

Relatives of Leah Sharibu react during her 2nd year in captivity remembrance in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun
Relatives of Leah Sharibu react during her second year in captivity remembrance in Abuja. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun

 

Four years after the Chibok girls’ abduction, a group of insurgents invaded the Government Girls Secondary School, Dapchi in Yobe State, also in the North East.

The insurgents abducted over 110 girls from the school in February 2018 but later returned them to the community after holding them captive for four weeks.

However, one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, was left behind and has remained in the custody of the insurgents reportedly for refusing to renounce Christianity.

Leah, who is said to be the only Christian among the Dapchi girls, recently marked her third year in the custody of the insurgents since she was abducted alongside her colleagues on February 19, 2018.

Six Nights Of Horror

The first of the recent attacks occurred on December 11, 2020, when bandits invaded the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, one of the 34 local government areas in Katsina State.

Sources said the incident took place in the night as the assailants forced their way into the school premises and marched hundreds of students to an unknown location.

Confirming the attack on the school, the state governor, Aminu Masari, noted that 17 of the students escaped while over 300 others were unaccounted for.

President Muhammadu Buhari gestures at a meeting with the Kankara students on December 18, 2020, following their release by their captors.

 

The students later went on to spend a week in the custody of their abductors before they were released and later kept safe in Tsafe, a local government area in Zamfara State.

“It’s been seven days since this happened, but by God’s grace, we’ve been able to retrieve the children from the bandits. All 344 of them,” Governor Masari said of the students’ return.

Narrating their ordeal, some of the students told Channels Television that their experience in captivity could best be described as “horrific”.

The incident occurred at a time when President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to Daura, his hometown in Katsina for a private visit.

During his stay in the state, he did not visit Kankara to sympathise with the parents of the students but he later met with the students after they regained freedom.

Katsina is located in the north-west region of the country, but the Boko Haram terrorist group which has been operating in the North East for more than a decade claimed responsibility for the abduction.

The Midnight Raid

While the dust of the abduction in Katsina had yet to settle down, pandemonium gripped Rafi Local Government Area of Niger, a state in the north-central region of Nigeria.

On February 17, armed men believed to be bandits stormed the Government Science College in Kagara town in what could be described as a repeat of the Kankara incident.

Sources told Channels Television that the assailants gained entry into the school premises at about 2 am and began to fire sporadic gunshots.

In the process, one of the students was said to have been killed with others sustaining varying degrees of gunshot wounds.

Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.
Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.

 

The assailants reportedly began the operation from the staff quarters and ended at the students’ hostels after which they left with an unconfirmed number of staff and students to an unknown destination.

However, one of the staff was able to escape from the hands of the bandits while the authorities in the state said efforts were ongoing to rescue the others.

There have been rumours that the abducted persons had been released and reunited with their families, but the authorities in Niger State distanced themselves from such reports.

“Our utmost priority right now is to make sure we bring them back home safe and that is exactly what we are going to do. So, there hasn’t been any information I can give you at this moment but once we have anything for you, we will let you know,” Governor Abubakar Bello told reporters at the Government House in Minna, two days after the abduction.

After spending 10 days in the custody of their abductors, the students were released by the bandits on February 27.

Another Chibok Experience?

Just as the Kagara incident continued to generate reactions, with calls to strengthen the nation’s security architecture, Nigerians woke up to the sad news of another bandit attack on a school, this time in Zamfara State in what could be described as a replica of the Chibok abduction of 2014.

Located in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of the state, the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe became the third victim on February 26 in the chain of bandit attacks on schools in the North within the last three months.

The Commissioner for Information in Zamfara, Suleiman Anka, told Channels Television that the school came under siege at midnight, although he did not give the figure of students abducted by the assailants.

A statement from the police authorities in the state later confirmed that 317 students were kidnapped in the process, while the command, in collaboration with the military, has launched a joint search and rescue operations with a view to rescuing the victims.

More than 300 students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021.
More than 300 students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State on February 26, 2021.

 

Meanwhile, a resident of Jangebe town told Channels Television that seven of the abducted students who escaped from the bandits returned home in the evening of February 26.

The girls said they maneuvered their way while trekking along the forest, adding that more students who also fled from the armed men should be expected to return.

The abduction of the schoolgirls came at a time when the authorities in Zamfara ordered the immediate closure of 10 boarding and day schools in a bid to prevent such an incident.

Those ordered to close were located on the Zamfara borders with Katsina, Kaduna, and Sokoto States where bandits have attacked dozens of communities in recent times, but the school in Jangebe was not among the affected schools.

Gov Bello Meets Freed Kagara Abductees In Minna

 

Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, on Saturday met with the freed abductees from Government Science Secondary School, Kagara.

The abductees – comprising of students, staff and staff relatives – regained their freedom earlier at 4 am on Saturday, the Governor said.

According to Bello, one of the victims is in hospital “suffering from excessive exhaustion.”

Bello did not comment on whether a ransom was paid for the victims’ release but he said it was a joint effort by security agencies, traditional rulers and other “major stakeholders.”

READ ALSO: Ganduje Orders Closure Of Four Tertiary Institutions In Kano

He added that the victims have been medically checked and will continue to be monitored for the next few days.

“They have been through tremendous torture,” he said. “We are carefully watching their health and condition and hopefully they should be reunited soon with their families.”

Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello met with freed Kagara abduction victims on February 27, 2021.
Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello met with freed Kagara abduction victims on February 27, 2021.

 

The Governor said his administration is working on a way to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

“Yes, we have rescued them but we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” he said. “Going forward, we are putting a system in place to look at the causes of these events.

“In the next few days, in the course of my conversation with major stakeholders, I hope we will find a solution to this dastardly act.”

Presidency Reacts

Meanwhile, the Presidency has reacted to the news of the Kagara victims’ release.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement issued on Saturday by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, welcomed the students’ release, commending the nation’s security and intelligence agencies and the government of Niger State for their responses in securing the release.

“We are happy they have been released,” Buhari said while sympathising with the staff and the students, their parents, and friends on this ordeal.

READ ALSOKagara Schoolboys, Others Arrive Minna

He noted that the country will not continue to suffer these attacks that threaten the growth of education, security, and the life of the future leaders at the same time putting the nation in a negative light.

Buhari also reiterated his earlier advice to school owners, particularly the state and local governments, as well as religious organizations to scale up security around their schools in line with the standards laid down by the UN-backed Safe School Programme of the administration.

He once again condemned the school abductions, with the latest one at the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State.

The President directed all security and intelligence agencies in the country to hunt down the culprits and bring them to justice.

Kagara Abductees Released – Official

The photo was taken from the Kagara school after the attack on February 17, 2021.

 

The abductees from Government Science Secondary School Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State have been released.

A government official who confirmed the release to Channels TV said they are on their way to Minna, the state capital.

According to him, the children were released from a location close to where the fifty-three abductees were released a week ago.

They are expected to be received by Governor Abubakar Bello at the Government House in Minna.

Twenty-seven students and 14 others were abducted from the school.

Gunmen had on February 17 stormed the school and whisked away 42 people, including 27 students from the Kagara school.

READ ALSO: From Chibok To Jangebe: A Timeline Of School Kidnappings In Nigeria

Sources told Channels Television that the armed men invaded the school at about 2:00 am and were shooting sporadically before carrying out their nefarious act.

Some teachers and their family members residing within the college staff quarters were also said to have been abducted by the gunmen.

The bandits were said to have worn a military uniform and entered the school premises which has about 1000 students, overpowered the security guard, before whisking away the students and staff.

Prior to that, over 300 students of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State were also abducted in December 2020.

They were, however, all rescued shortly after.

 

Friday Update: The Future Of 5G In Nigeria

Good morning,

We are leading with complaints from the Niger State Governor, more repentant bandits in Zamfara, and the future of 5G technology in Nigeria.


Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.
Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.

‘No Support From Federal Government’

Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello on Thursday said the Federal Government has shown little commitment to helping his administration facilitate the freedom of 41 students and staff of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara.

After the abduction on February 17, President Muhammadu Buhari had swiftly mandated security agencies to ensure the safety of the abductees.

But Bello, a Peoples Democratic Party Governor, appeared to suggest that the President’s words have not translated into action. He, however, reiterated his administration’s commitment to bring back home the abducted persons.

“At the moment, we do not feel any federal presence here,” he said. “The Inspector-General of Police sent us four mobile units but we are to shoulder the financial responsibilities. So, where is the support? There is no support from anyone. Yes, we had a delegation (Federal Government delegation) that came to visit and commiserate with us but that was all. So, we are left to ourselves.”

Muhammadu Buhari: In a meeting with Northern Governors and traditional rulers, the President said his administration will deal decisively with the problem of banditry and insurgency.

Prosecution: Meanwhile, the Police have arrested and paraded 48 suspects arrested for various crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, cyber-crime, and cattle rustling.


Some of the arms and ammunitions surrendered by the repentant bandits.

Another Batch Of Bandits Repent In Zamfara

Governor Bello Matawalle has received weapons and ammunition surrendered by three repentant bandits in Zamfata state.

The three bandits, said to be notorious, were led by Mohammed Sani, the son of another notorious bandit, Buharin Daji, believed to have been killed by security operatives a few years ago.

Zamfara is one of the few states in the Northern region which has chosen to negotiate with bandits as a way of restoring peace.

Sheikh Gumi: The Coalition of Northern Groups said it fully supports the popular cleric’s call for the need to grant amnesty to bandits.

Bala Mohammed: The Bauchi State Governor tendered an apology for rationalising why Fulani herdsmen carry illegal weapons. But he insisted he had spoken the truth. “I have no apology for saying the truth,” he said. “But certainly sometimes you will say the truth and it will be injurious.”


This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

The Future of 5G in Nigeria

During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, unsubstantiated theories linking COVID-19 to 5G technology were widespread.

On May 5, 2020, the Senate directed a joint committee to investigate the status of 5G in Nigeria and its technological impact on residents.

At a public hearing on Thursday, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, said all evidence, so far, has shown that 5G is safe to use and urged Nigerians to disregard the myths around it.

“The radiation of 4G that we are all using here is more harmful than the 5G,” he said. “The radiation of microwave, oven at home is more harmful than that of the 5G.”

However, the Office of the National Security Adviser expressed concern over the technology, saying it could be used for spying and hacking purposes.

The Ministry of Communications is now expected to present a draft national policy on 5G at the Federal Executive Council for consideration.


What else is happening?

Abubakar Malami: The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation said Nigeria will remain as one, and Nigerians must unite irrespective of the challenges confronting the country.

Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television.

 

Goodbye: The bodies of the seven Air Force officers who died in a plane crash on Sunday have been laid to rest at the Military Cemetery in the Federal Capital Territory. The emotional event was attended by wives and children of the officers and other relatives.

Abdulrasheed Maina: A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the ex-Pension boss’ fresh bail application. Justice Okon Abang said Mr. Maina was a flight risk after jumping bail previously, at least twice.

Zainab Ahmed: Responding to criticism of high borrowing by the Federal Government, the Minister of Finance said Nigeria cannot effectively make progress unless it borrows to fund the building of its infrastructure.

Rochas Okorocha: The Imo State High Court in Owerri has ordered an interim forfeiture of all the properties said to be illegally acquired by the former Governor of the State while he was in office from 2011 to 2019.

Abdulrasheed Bawa: The President met with the newly confirmed Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the State House on Thursday. The meeting was closed to the media.

Borno State: Boko Haram Commander Abubakar Shekau has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s bombing of Maiduguri.


And that’s it for today and the week. Have a great weekend and see you next Monday.

Monday Update: A Fatal Crash, Hope For Kagara Abductees And A 48-Hour Ultimatum

Good morning.

It’s a new week. We are leading with the military plane crash in Abuja, the rescue mission of the Kagara abductees, and a 48-hour ultimatum from the army chief.


Caregivers work at the scene of an accident involving a Nigerian military aircraft which crashed killing seven occupants on board at the Airport runway near Nigeria’s capital Abuja, on February 21, 2021.  KOLA SULAIMON / AFP

A Fatal Plane Crash

Seven Air Force officials died after their military plane crashed in Abuja shortly after take-off from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport on Sunday.

The cause is still being investigated but the Air Force has released the names of the officers who died in the Beechcraft Kingair B3501 plane crash.

The officers were en route to Niger State on a surveillance mission, as part of the military’s efforts to secure the release of the abducted students and staff of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara.

Condolence: President Muhammadu Buhari said he was deeply saddened by the news and joined Nigerians in mourning the unfortunate loss of the dedicated and courageous officials who died in the line of duty.

Related: A United Airlines flight landed safely in Denver, US, after its right engine failed; debris from the plane scattered over the residential area over which it was flying,


File: Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, during a state broadcast on May 4, 2020.

Hope In Kagara Rescue Operation

It’s almost a week since staff and students of GSSS Kagara were abducted by bandits in Niger State. They are yet to regain their freedom.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, said the general location of the Kagara abductees has been identified.

“The students of Kagara are located around  Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State which I believe very soon they would be back home,” the governor said.

Kaduna: In another attack, bandits have killed a man and his son during an attack on Igabi Local Government Area of the state.

Ogun: Police in the state say they have arrested three herdsmen for their alleged role in the attack on Bamajo village in Ayetoro, Yewa North.


The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attahiru addresses troops in Dikwa Local Government, the headquarters of the Super Camp 9 Operation Lafiya Dole on February 21, 2021.

Army Chief Gives Ultimatum

The Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru, has given a 48-hour ultimatum for troops to clear out Marte and three other communities in Borno state of terrorists.

Boko Haram had last week hoisted its flags in parts of Marte, but the military has been on a voracious offensive. On Friday, the military successfully repelled attacks on Dikwa, another Borno community.

Quote: “In the last few days we have had attacks in your Area of Responsibility,” Attahiru said. “It is now high time we get back and fight through and support our forces ahead of you. Areas around Marte, Chukungudu, Krenoa, and Kirta Wulgo must be cleared in the next 48 hours . . . Go there and do the needful and I will be right behind you. Ensure you do your job, and do your job well.”

Orlu: Calm appears to have returned to the south-east city after a military operation against illegal camps caused residents to panic.


What else is happening?

Herdsmen: Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi, has reiterated that open grazing is no longer acceptable in Nigeria.

Price hike: The federal government met with Organised Labour late Sunday to discuss the impending increase in petrol prices and electricity tariffs.

SERAP: The civil rights organisation has asked the President to order the probe of the alleged missing billions from the Universal Basic Education Commission and State Universal Basic Education boards.

Rochas Okorocha: The former Imo State Governor is in police custody over his involvement in a property dispute in his home state.

Watch: Our correspondent Dare Idowu, in this special report, attempts to connect the dots of the possible causes of pipeline explosions in Nigeria.

Ebola: Four people have now died from a new outbreak of the deadly disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where people are reportedly resisting measures to contain the spread.

Serie A: Romelu Lukaku was instrumental as Inter Milan beat city rivals AC Milan 3-0 to extend their lead at the top of the league.


And that’s it for today. Join us tomorrow.

Niger Youths Give Govt 48 Hours To Rescue Kagara Students, Others

Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.
Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.

 

Youths in Niger State on Saturday issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the state government to rescue 41 persons abducted from the Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, and 21 commuters abducted along Minna-Zungeru road.

Briefing journalists at the Abdulsalami Youth Centre in Minna, the youths, under the aegis of the National Youths Council of Nigeria, decried the lack of security in the state and accused the state government of not doing much to tackle the challenge.

“Today in Niger State, not less than 10 local governments are either facing kidnapping or banditry of various forms,” the youths’ statement said. “This is becoming unbearable and unacceptable.

READ ALSO: Govt Will Not Pay Ransom To Secure Release Of Kagara Students, Says Lai Mohammed

They charged the state and the federal government to “sit up” and face the business of securing lives and properties.

The federal government earlier on Saturday said it will not pay a ransom to secure the release of abducted persons, although it is exploring military and non-military options in securing the freedom of victims.

Many communities in Niger State, which shares borders with the Federal Capital Territory and is the largest state in the country, have suffered from bandit attacks for years.

Barely 24 hours after the Kagara school attack, gunmen attacked other communities in the state, killing at least one person.

The state government has shut down boarding schools in affected areas and has said it is working to secure the release of kidnapped persons.

 

READ THE YOUTH’S FULL STATEMENT:

BEING A PRESS CONFERENCE RELEASE ON SATURDAY 20TH FEBRUARY, 2021 BY NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL OF NIGERIA, NIGER STATE CHAPTER AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS IN NIGER STATE ON THE SPATE OF INSECURITY, KIDNAPPING AND BANDITRY: A CALL TO ACTION
Dear Nigerlites and Nigerians,
The once acclaimed most peaceful and hospitable state in Nigeria has been thrown into a state of chaos and mundane situations with everyday ushering uncertainties and perilous atmosphere for the peace and loving citizens.
Over the last few years, many have got reason to discourse and analyze the state of affairs in our darling Niger State, the pulse and the trend has been too ugly despite continuous hope and unflinching optimism and patriotism demonstrated by all to see it positioned for greatness, socioeconomic gains and purposeful stewardship.
Niger State is becoming a shadow of itself considering the occurring realities of insecurity manifesting in almost 2/3 of its LGAs. It is either we are awoken by kidnapping and banditry by unknown gunmen who have dispersed and made thousands homeless in their ancestral homes.
The implications of this heinous crimes arel; many inhabitants from this ravaged communities who are known to be peasant farmers have abandoned and lost all their large farmlands and produce due to incessant attacks. Many are now seeking refuge on identified internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp across the state. The future of the young ones is bleak as schools have been shut, commercial activities deserted and healthcare accessibility now a mirage.
We are aware of many calls before now by citizens and other stakeholders in the state on a renewed strategy to curb the emerging security threat in the state when videos of unknown gunmen were seen having prayers and recorded voice notes of a targeted attacks in the state. Many including the state government took the threat as a mere child’s play to react and nip the bud of the situation before its budding.
Today in Niger State, not less than 10 LGAs are either facing kidnapping or banditry of various forms. This is becoming unbearable and unacceptable, the reason why we are all out to raise our lofty voices and charge the state government to sit up and face the business of securing lives and properties which it has sworn to protect.
Need much to say, our representatives from the State and National assemblies have done little or nothing to proffer solutions on the way out of this quagmire. Many of them have forgotten their responsibilities to speak and defend their constituencies in these times of hardship. But we wish to remind them that, we are very aware of their silence and we will pay back with awesome actions in the nearest future.
It is on the foregoing abysmal and profound perturbations that, we the coalition of youths and civil society organizations in Niger State wish to state clear our stand today.
OUR RESOLUTIONS
The policy summersault of Niger State Government in this precarious situation is worrisome. In one breath, the Governor expressed disinclination to negotiate with bandits, in another breath, the Secretary to the State Government was advancing talks with bandits on behalf of the Governor with a view to negotiating Niger State out of security quagmire.
It is on the foregoing abysmal and profound perturbations that, we the coalition of youths and civil society organizations in Niger State consequently advance the following demands:
1. The Government should facilitate the release/rescue of all abducted commuters aboard NSTA bus and pupils of Government Science College, Kagara, within 48 hours.
2. The Governor of Niger State, Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello must identify and personally visit parents/guardians/husbands/wives of all the abducted commuters and pupils of Government Science College Kagara.
3. Most of the abducted commuters are bread winners of their various families, we demand the Government should provide relief materials to all families of the abductees within 24 hours.
4. The Government of Niger State should establish within Twenty four (24) hours of this release, a situation room where Nigerlites and the abductees family members could access true situation of the rescue/release efforts.
5. The Government should provide adequate security to all communities, schools and other soft targets within the shortest period of time.
6. Local Vigilantes should be inculcated into conventional Military forces with a view of deploying them to provide security for their communities.
7. The Governor should personally visit all Internally Displaced Persons camps in the State within Seven (7) days.
8. The Federal Government should without further hesitation declare state of emergency on security.
9. We demand inclusion of youth representatives in the planned stakeholders meeting which is premise on the state government scheduled for Tuesday 23rd February, 2021. We believe the youthfolk is a major stakeholder in Niger State Project, hence this demand
10. We therefore request with all Nigerlites to continue to pray for the victims and their families and never use derogatory statements capable of truncating the negotiating process of the abductees. We are perturbed by the rising misconceptions and wish to call for calm and optimism.
11. The existing Local Vigilantes should be strengthened and adequately supported to enhance Local Security arrangement.
12. The creation of Ministry for Home Affairs and Internal Security as obtainable in Zamfara and Kaduna States.
13. We condemn in strongest term the reckless statement credited to minister of defence were he urged Nigerians not to be “COWARDS” but stand and confront bandits Heavily armed with assorted sophisticated weapons. We demand immediate  retraction and apologies from the minister.
As responsible citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we believe and share in the vision of Nigeria’s sovereignty and indivisibility, but same shouldn’t be misconstrue as weakness for criminals to feast on our people and resources.
We implore Government at all levels to work assiduously toward meeting our demands within the stipulated timeframe. The Youths would explore the option of “GRAND PROTEST” tagged “OCCUPY NIGER” should we notice lackadaisical disposition towards our demands.
We finally wish to thank all Nigerlites for their unflinching prayers and concerns over the last few days. You all have demonstrated that we are all one in this trying times. We urge you to keep the prayers afloat until normalcy and our once peaceful state of our dream Niger is restored.
We thank Sheikh Dr Ahmad Gumi and other notable Nigerians for coming to the aid of our abducted citizens. We are not unaware of Niger State Government efforts in this trying time. Our support for them remains resolute in these trying times with hope and prayers things go right for the betterment of all.
Thank you and God Bless.
SIGNED:
National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Niger State Chapter
Youth Lead Nigeria
Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG)
The Blue Resolution Initiative (TBRi)
Niger State Students in Diaspora
Concerned Shiroro Youths
Minna Emirate Youth Association
National Associations of Nigerian Students

Friday Update: Kagara Abduction, Nigeria Exits Recession And A Historic Landing On Mars

Good morning.

We are leading with the latest updates from the Kagara school attack, Nigeria’s exit from recession, and a historic landing on Mars.


Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.
Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.

Hunt For Kagara Abductees Continues

At least 41 persons, many of them students, were kidnapped on Wednesday morning after gunmen attacked Government Science College, Kankara, in Niger State. The State Government published the names of the abductees on Thursday.

The police said it had deployed additional tactical, intelligence, and investigative assets to solve the kidnapping and other related cases in the state.

Meanwhile, just 24 hours after the Kagara attack, gunmen attacked some other Niger communities, killing at least one person. Many others sustained injuries.

Shehu Sani: The former lawmaker urged the government to negotiate with the abductors as they have nothing to lose and will not hesitate to harm the abductees.

Quote: “Kidnappings or abductions and violence has been a daily issue,” Mr. Shehu said. “You can use whatever you want to use, be it helicopter or operation Puff Adder or whatever operation you want to use against the bandits, but I think in the interest of the safety and for the lives of these boys, hold on with your bravado, with your helicopter and planes until these boys are safely negotiated out of danger.”

Abubakar Bello: The Niger State Governor, after meeting with the President in Abuja, said the lasting solution to the state’s insecurity challenge is to engage the bandits peacefully. “I understand some of these bandits are tired and need to be looked after; we need to train them, to engage them,” he said.

Tukur Buratai: The ex-Chief of Army Staff told the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs it may take Nigeria at least 20 years before it can resolve its security challenges. Former Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin also told the lawmakers Nigeria’s next warfare and crisis will be in the forests. The ex-Service chiefs are being grilled by the Senate before their confirmation as ambassadors.

Ike Ekweremadu: The former Deputy Senate President is insisting on the creation of State Police as the solution to insecurity across the country.


A file photo of a resident at a market in Akure, Ondo State. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun
A file photo of a resident at a market in Akure, Ondo State. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun

Nigeria Exits Recession

The National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday announced that Nigeria has emerged from recession.

The country had slipped into recession under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and falling oil prices last year.

Although the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, had predicted a recovery in the first quarter of 2021, NBS data showed that the economy grew by 0.11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the first positive quarterly growth in the last three quarters.

Analysis: Economist Bismark Rewane said he was pleasantly surprised by the news. He attributed the recovery to government policy, support from the World Bank and IMF and, of course, a rebound in oil prices.


A health worker prepares an injection of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine on February 7, 2021 at the Mignot Hospital in Le Chesnay near Paris. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

NAFDAC Approves AstraZeneca Vaccine

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has approved the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

The vaccine, which can be stored at 2 to 8-degree centigrade, is the first to be approved by the agency.

According to the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye, three additional vaccines are being evaluated for approval.

Although the AstraZeneca vaccine appears not to work against the South Africa variant of the virus, it is effective against the UK variant, which has been found in Nigeria.

NCDC: The disease control agency reported 869 new cases of the virus and eight deaths on Thursday. The country’s total caseload is now just a few hundreds from hitting the 150,000-milestone.


What else is happening?

Leah Sharibu: Thursday made it three years since the Dapchi schoolgirl was kidnapped, along with 109 others. While most of the girls have been released, Sharibu wasn’t after she refused to renounce her Christian faith. Many in her community still believe she will return someday.

Apapa: The Lagos State Government has asked articulated truck owners to vacate the port city.

IPOB: The Nigerian Army has commenced an operation against what it describes as “illegal training camps” in Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State and neighboring communities.

Benue: The State Government has shut down a popular private school, Vaatia College in Makurdi, following the outbreak of Guillain-Barre, a rare illness that left nine students paralysed.

Junaid Mohammed: The Second Republic lawmaker is reportedly dead after a brief illness. He was 71.

Edo: The State Government said it will not cede any part of its land for cattle grazing. “Our position on the matter of grazing land is clear and has not shifted, which is that there is no free land for grazing in Edo State,” a statement said.

NASA: The American space agency has successfully landed its Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. The robot will now embark on a multi-year mission to look for signs of life on the red planet. “The question of whether there’s life beyond Earth is one of the most fundamental and essential questions we can ask,” said NASA geologist Katie Stack Morgan.


That’s it for today and the week. See you on Monday.

Niger Govt Releases Names Of Students, Teachers, Others Abducted From Kagara School

Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.
Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Niger State was attacked by gunmen on February 17, 2021.

 

The Niger State Government has released the names of the students, teachers, and other residents abducted from Government Science Secondary School Kagara on Wednesday.

A list which emanated from the State Ministry of Education shows 27 students were abducted alongside five staff and nine members of their families, making a total of 41 persons abducted from the school.

Three of the staff abducted are teachers while two are the non-teaching staff.

The names of the students include Jamilu Isah, Shem Joshua, Abbas Abdullahi, Isah Abdullahi, Ezekeil Danladi, Haliru Shuibu, Mamuda Suleiman, Danzakar Dauda, Abdulsamad Sanusi, Bashir Abbas.

Others are: Suleiman Lawal, Abdullahi Adamu, Habakuk Augustine, Idris Mohammed, Musa Adamu, Abdulkarim Abdulrahman, Abubakar Danjumma, Abdullahi Abubakar, Bashir Kamalideen, Mohammed Salisu.

The names of persons abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, as released by the Niger State Government on February 18, 2021.
The names of persons abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, as released by the Niger State Government on February 18, 2021.

 

The rest of the students abducted are Yusuf M Kabir, Isah Abdullah Makusidi, Polineous Vincent, Lawal Bello, Mohammed K Shehu, Mubarak Sidi and Abdulsamad Nuhu.

According to the government list, the names of the abducted teachers are Hannatu Philip, Lawal Abdullahi, and Dodo Fodio, while the non-teaching staff are Mohammed Musa and Faiza Mohammed.

Others abducted include Christiana Adama, Faith Adama, Maimuna Suleman, Nura Isah, Ahmad Isah, Khadizat Isah, Mohammed Mohammed, Aisha Isah, and Saratu Isah.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, armed men attacked the Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State shooting sporadically.

A student Benjamin Habila was shot and killed by the bandits on the school premises while several others abducted.

Some teachers and their family members residing within the college staff quarters were also said to have been abducted by the gunmen.

READ ALSO: Gunmen Attack School, Abduct Students, Others In Niger

The operations started from the staff quarters and ended in the students’ hostels and in the process, other students were also wounded by gunshots.

The gunmen gathered some staff and students at a place for hours before moving them out of the school premises to an unknown destination.

They wore a military uniform and entered the school premises which has about 1000 students, overpowered the security guard, before whisking away the students and staff.

A staff member by the name Batagi who was among those kidnapped has escaped and is in the school as of the time of publishing this report. Others still with the bandits are Mall. Lawal, Ali, Hannatu, and her husband, Dodo, Mohammed Abubakar(Akawu), among others.

Following the incident, the Senate has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the country.

The resolution follows a motion by Senator Sani Musa during plenary on Wednesday.

Senator Bima Enagi from Niger State in his contribution, accused the President of incompetence as the security situation is worsening in the country.

He argued that the constitution should be amended to give governors more powers as they are the security officers in their states because the Federal government is incompetent in handling security.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed armed forces and police to ensure the safe return of the abducted students.

The President has also dispatched a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has received reports of the brazen attack on Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, following which a yet to be ascertained number of staff and students have been abducted by gunmen.

“Following these reports, the President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives. The President has also dispatched to Minna, Niger State a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the College”.

Thursday Update: Kagara Abduction, Service Chiefs and NIN Registration

Good morning.

We are leading with the latest updates on the abductions in Kagara, the screening of Service Chiefs by lawmakers, and the lingering challenges holding back NIN registration.


The recent abduction comes less than three months after the kidnap of students in Kankara, Katsina State.

Yet Another School Abduction

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, gunmen stormed Government Science College, Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State. One student was killed during the attack and 42 other persons, including students and teachers, were kidnapped.

In response to the attack, President Muhammadu Buhari directed security forces to ensure the safe return of the kidnapped persons. and the Niger State Government ordered the immediate closure of all boarding schools in the bandit ravaged areas of the state.

The Kagara assault is the latest on schools across the country. Gunmen have previously abducted students from Kankara in Katsina State, Dapchi in Yobe State, and Chibok in Borno State. Many are still in captivity.

It also highlights the poor state of security nationwide as the police, military, and other agencies struggle to stretch finite resources.

Senate: Members of the red chamber asked the President to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the country.

NGF: The Governors Forum met behind closed doors at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa in Abuja to discuss the state of insecurity in the country.

Perspective: A Niger State Senator, Sani Musa, said the gunmen were not bandits but terrorists. And a security consultant, Gen. John Temlong, said the payment of ransom leads to the fueling and arming of terrorism.


President Muhammadu Buhari stands with his military chiefs.

Service Chiefs Face Lawmakers

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Defence on Wednesday started the screening and confirmation process of the newly appointed Service Chiefs.

The security bosses, appointed by President Buhari on January 26, have already swung into action. They are expected to be confirmed by the lawmakers.

Bashir Magashi: Speaking with newsmen after the screening, the Minister of Defence said Nigerians should not be cowards in the face of bandit attacks and learn to defend themselves.

Quote: “We shouldn’t be cowards,” General Magashi said. “Sometimes the bandits come with about three rounds of ammunition and when they fire shots everybody will run. In our younger days, we stand to fight any form of aggression.”

Related: The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has deployed 302 Special Forces to Kaduna State as part of efforts to tackle banditry, kidnapping, and other violent crimes in the state.


A file photo of applicants at one of the NIMC offices in the country.

Challenges Remain With NIN Registration

The National Identification Number has been touted as one of the tools that can help to tackle insecurity nationwide. But Nigerians have continued to complain about the registration process.

The Federal Government has extended the deadline for linking the NIN with SIM cards at least twice. but it might have to do it again.

Lagos: While the usual crowds have thinned out at the registration centre in Ikeja, enrolees say that a lot more should be done to improve the process.

Abuja: The situation is similar in the Federal Capital Territory where applicants say they have been scheduled for dates beyond the government’s deadline.


What else is happening?

Abdulsalam Abubakar: The former Head of State said if nothing is done to address the growing tension in the country, it might lead to a point of no return.

Borno: An IDP camp was gutted in Maiduguri by fire on Wednesday, killing three people, including a child. The inferno also destroyed 620 makeshift houses.

Catholic: Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of lent, a period of fasting for 40 days that comes to an end on the Saturday before Easter.

Invictus Obi: The Forbes-endorsed millionaire was sentenced to ten years in prison by a US court for wire fraud.

PDP: Governors elected under the aegis of the party have called for an urgent decentralisation of the Nigeria police.  According to them, it will help to stem the tide of insecurity across the country.

Ethiopia: The conflict-torn northern Tigray region has been hit by an electricity blackout, the government said on Wednesday.

Cyberattack: US authorities said North Korea tried to steal $1.3 billion in crypto and traditional currencies from banks and other victims.


And that’s it for today. It’s almost Friday and then the weekend. See you.

Buhari Directs Armed Forces, Police To Ensure Safe Return Of Abducted Kagara Students

President Muhammed Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed armed forces and police to ensure the safe return of students and officials abducted by gunmen who attacked Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State on Wednesday.

The President has also dispatched a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation.

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has received reports of the brazen attack on Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, following which a yet to be ascertained number of staff and students have been abducted by gunmen.

“Following these reports, the President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives. The President has also dispatched to Minna, Niger State a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the College,” the statement read in part.

The statement added that President Buhari has assured of the support of his administration to the Armed Forces in their brave struggle against terrorism and banditry and urged them to do all that can be done to bring an end to the attacks on schools.

“Our prayers are with families of the victims of this attack,” said the President as he condemned as cowardly the attack on innocent school children.

 

Targeted Institution

Schools have been the target of attacks in recent times in Nigeria.

Gunmen earlier Wednesday morning stormed Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State dressed in military uniform, shooting sporadically into the air.

The school principal who escaped from the attack confirmed to Channels Television that the operation started from the staff quarters where they abducted members of staff including a couple before they gained access to the students’ hostels.

Other sources say some students escaped after the raid while a headcount is being conducted at the school to ascertain the actual number of missing students.

This attack comes less than three months after scores of students were abducted from the Government Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State. They were, however, released by their kidnappers after some days.

Niger State has in the past days seen a spike in kidnapping by gunmen.  A few days back, armed men attacked a bus belonging to the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) along Minna-Zungeru Road and abducted at least 21 passengers.

The state governor, Abubakar Bello had condemned the abduction, promising to secure the release of the passengers.