We Are Not Sure Of When Schools Will Reopen – Niger Govt

Niger is a state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country.
Niger is a state in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria and the largest state in the country.

 

The Niger State Government has said that it is not sure of when the boarding schools that were shut down will reopen as a result of the insecurity ravaging the state.

The state Commissioner for Education, Hon Hannatu Jibrin, said this during the reunion and handing over of the kidnapped Kagara students to their families on Sunday.

According to the Commissioner, the government is meeting with parents, teachers and other stakeholders to come up with a template for the reopening of the schools.

“The security challenge facing this state is huge and we have to ensure things are put in proper place before we will think of reopening the school. I can’t say when they will go back to school or when it will be reopened but we will ensure that the SS3 students are kept in touch with, to see how we will manage them so that they won’t miss anything and still write the final examination. Schools and students are delicate, but we are talking to the parents and other stakeholders to come up with a template for the reopening of the school,” she said.

While admonishing the students, the commissioner encouraged them not to be discouraged by their experience adding that they should go back to the society as better people and identify a path to see how they can get out of the trauma caused by their abduction.

The Director-General of the Child’s Right Agency in the state, Hajia Mariam Kolo, who has been at the forefront of counselling of the students to get them out of the trauma described what they went through as indeed a harrowing experience.

She, however, said she was happy with the students’ response to their counselling.

Mariam also stated that the agency has done its best and that there would be a follow up on the students adding that the feedback from them will determine what steps would be taken next.

VIDEO: Fifty-Three Abductees Rescued In Niger State Reunite With Family

 

It was an emotional situation in Niger State on Monday as the 53 rescued passengers that were kidnapped by bandits reunited with their families.

Some of the victims recounted their ordeal in the hands of their abductors and called on the government to find a lasting solution to the security challenges in the state.

In the video above, our correspondent, Emperor Simon, gave an on-the-spot assessment.

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

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

 

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed, has said that no ransom will be paid for the release of the abducted staff and students of Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.

He said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Saturday while explaining some of the government’s strategies to curb the rate of abductions in the country.

While he ruled out the option of paying ransoms, the minister assured Nigerians that “government has put in place various strategies to contain banditry, insurgency and kidnapping.”

“Some of these measures are kinetic, some are non-kinetic,” Mr Lai Mohammed said, without disclosing any specific actions.

According to him, the same was the case for the abducted Kankara schoolboys in Katsina State and the Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State, where contrary to reports, he claimed that no ransom was paid to secure their release.

“All these stories about ransom, are conspiracy theories,” the minister said.

He continued by saying: “I can assure you that the government is on top of the matter – but it is not a subject matter for television discussion.

“We didn’t get there overnight, that is why we can’t get out in one day”.

Read Also: No Ransom Was Paid For Release Of Kankara Schoolboys, Dapchi Schoolgirls – Lai Mohammed

According to the minister, bandits and terrorists work with the psychology of people and they deliberately attack mostly women and children because they believe that is what is going to attract global outcry.

“That is exactly what bandits do all over the world,” he said, adding that “solidarity in any form will not be tolerated by this government”.

Armed men attacked the Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State in the early hours of Wednesday, shooting sporadically, before abducting some students, staff members, and their families.

One student was also killed in the incident.

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 who were said to have worn military uniforms gathered some staff and students at a place for hours before moving them out of the school premises to an unknown destination.

Sheikh Gumi Asks FG To Give Bandits ‘Blanket Amnesty’

Sheikh Gumi (white beards) during a visit to Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello at the Government House in Minna, Niger State capital.

 

Popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, has called on the Federal Government to give bandits willing to make peace ‘blanket amnesty’ if the current security situation must be tackled.

The Islamic scholar disclosed this on Friday while addressing journalists in Minna, Niger State capital.

“The Federal government should give them blanket amnesty, then if somebody continues, then we will deal with them,” Sheik Gumi said while giving updates on the demands of the bandits.

This was after the cleric visited the camp of some bandits operating in Niger State.

He explained that some of the complaints of the bandits are that they were being killed and maimed unjustly.

“The outcome (of his visit) is very positive. We have many factions and each faction is saying I have complaints and grievances – we are persecuted, we are arrested, we are lynched -,” the cleric said, quoting the bandits.

READ ALSO: Kagara Abductions: We Are Committed To The Safe Rescue Of All Abductees – IGP

Speaking concerning his discussion during his secret visit to the bandits, Sheik Gumi said there is a positive response from the bandits who are holding the Kagara school students and their staff captive.

He, however, did not state if the students have been released.

Gumi’s comments come a few days after gunmen gained access to Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State around 2:00am and abducted scores of students, teachers, and many others.

The school principal who escaped from the attack confirmed to Channels Television that the gunmen came in military uniform and shot sporadically into the air. He said the operation started from the staff quarters where they abducted members of staff including a couple before they gained access to the students’ hostels.

One student was killed during the attack.

 

Targeted Institution

Kidnappers have in recent times targeted schools in the country. Less than three months ago, 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.

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

Bandits Kidnap 18 In Niger State

 

Bandits have kidnapped 18 passengers of the Niger State Transport Authority (NSTA) in Niger State.

The attack occurred at Yakila village in Rafi local government area of the state on Sunday, with the bandits leaving a woman and her baby behind and whisking away the other 18 passengers.

The passengers were said to be heading to Minna, the state capital from Kotangora when the incident happened.

The Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ahmed Inga confirmed the incident to Channels Television via a phone interview.

Inga who was on his way from Kagara for the revalidation of his All Progressives Congress (APC) membership in the company of the Chief of Staff said they met the scene where the bandits operated.

Read Also: Shasha Violence: Do Not Take Laws Into Your Hands, Akeredolu Tells Ibadan Residents

He explained that they met the woman and her child who were left behind by the bandits.

“The only thing I can tell you now is we have rescued the woman and her baby and she is in the vehicle with us and we are on our way to Minna. She told us that the bandits blocked the way and went away with the other 18 passengers on the bus.

“No government official was among those kidnapped. I can’t give more than that for now because the woman is traumatized and we cannot be asking her too many questions yet,” the SEMA DG said.

Meanwhile, efforts to speak to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Wasiu Abiodun, proved abortive as his phone was not reachable.

Seven Killed In Niger State On New Year’s Eve

A map showing Niger state.

 

Seven farmers have been killed in Baban Rami in Mashegu Local Government Area of the state by bandits.

The Secretary to the State Government, Ahmed Matane confirmed this to Channels Television on Saturday via a telephone conversation, saying the incident occurred on New Year’s Eve.

He said the bandits had laid ambush on the farmers who had gone to their farms to harvest their produce.

According to him, the bandits had earlier demanded ransom from the farmers before they could harvest their produce.

But the farmers refused to give in to their threats and decided to seek for the protection of some vigilante members.

Matane explained that after the harvest, one of the drivers, however, decided to move ahead with some farmers, and in the process were attacked by the bandits who killed seven of them.

Asked why the information was just coming to public domain, the Niger state SSG said government had wanted to be sure of the numbers before making any pronouncement.

“We were not sure of the number of the persons killed. We wanted to be sure. So, we just got the accurate figure,” he said.

It is the first time that bandits would launch attacks on Baban Rami.

Matane said the state government would set up a coordinated operation in Mashegu to dislodge the bandits.

He said the state government condemned the attack and other attacks recently carried out in the state.

At least over fifty people have been killed by bandits in Niger State since renewed banditry attacks in January, 2020.

The latest attack comes barely one week after the district head of Madaka in Rafi Local Government Area of the state, Ya’u Idris was killed by gunmen days after he was abducted from his home by the same people.

At the moment, many farmers are not able to go to their farms to harvest their produce due to insecurity.

APC Youth Leader, District Head, Two Others Kidnapped In Niger State

A map showing Niger state.
A map showing Niger state.

 

Suspected bandits have kidnapped a youth leader of the All Progressives Congress in Garin Gabbas in Rafi local government area of Niger State.

The bandits also kidnapped the District head of Gunna in Yakila, also in Rafi local government, alongside children of two health workers said to be working at a Primary Health Care in the area.

The Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ahmed Inga confirmed this to Channels Television via telephone conversation on Thursday.

According to him, several members of the communities are still missing, making it difficult to ascertain the number of other persons who might have been abducted by the bandits.

READ ALSO: Deputy Minority Leader Faults Malami On Buhari House Summon

“We are still gathering details on the attacks. We will keep you updated.” Inga said.

A member of Yakila community, Zanna Sanusi had told Channels Television, also via a telephone conversation, that the attackers stormed the two communities on Thursday at about 2:30 am in large numbers.

As at the time of filing this report, Garin Gabbas and Yakila communities were still unsettled with gunmen still laying siege on the communities.

An effort to speak with the Police Command in Niger State proved abortive.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Wasiu responded to our Correspondent’s calls with an SMS, ‘Message pls’.

A message was sent to him to confirm the incidents, but as at the time of filing this report, he was yet to respond to the message.

Flood Hits More Communities In Niger State

Scenes from communities hit by a flood in Niger State.

 

Barely three days after the Niger State Government disclosed that over one hundred communities have been affected by a flood, at least fifteen new communities have been hit by a fresh flood in the Lapai local government area of the state.

The communities include Egba, Achiba, Apataku, Ebwa, Arah, Adunbenku, Old Muye, Reba, Sokun, Edda, Pele, Dere, Eshi, and Yawa.

Several houses have been flooded and farmlands washed away.

An eyewitness Alhaji Zubairu Musa who sent video clips and pictures of the situation to Channels Television Correspondent in Niger State said a lot of properties have also been destroyed.

“Many houses and farmlands have been submerged, destroyed and a lot of properties have been lost so far.

“Some people have been evacuated to a safe place for the safety of their lives,” Musa said in the text accompanying the clips he sent to us.

In the video clips, residents of the Egba community are seen on canoes, making frantic efforts to rescue their children and whatever they could rescue.

A woman by name Maryam Egba said they were asleep at the time the flood happened.

“We were asleep when it all happened. I woke up and found that the water flooded our rooms. There is no place for us to sleep,” Maryam said.

Another woman, Kulu Abdulrahman lamented that they were hungry as the flood had washed away their foodstuff.

“We don’t have what to eat. It’s really a trying moment for us. We appeal to both federal government to come to our aid,” Abdulrahman cried out.

Most riverine communities in Niger State are affected by flooding annually.

Many have attributed the challenge to the presence of three hydroelectric dams in the state, namely, Jebba Dam, Kainji Dam, Tagwai Dam, and the fourth one under construction at Zungeru in Wushishi local government area.

The state Emergency Management Agency has also announced that a more severe type of flooding experience, “Black Flood” could occur still in this year.

According to the Director-General of the agency, Ahmed Inga, neighbouring countries such as Benin, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon may release water from their dams, and Niger State sitting along the River Niger could be badly affected.

The Deputy Governor of the State, Ahmed Ketso during the visit of a team from the National Emergency Management Agency to his office on Thursday had appealed to the Federal government to help in the construction of houses at some of the relocation sites that the state government had secured for the relocation of communities around the riverine areas so as to mitigate losses whenever there is a flood.

He also reiterated the need for the government to support the rural farmers with inputs to enable them to embark on dry season farming which will help them carry on their age-long profession even after they have relocated.

At Least 17 Killed By Suspected Bandits In Niger State

 

At least 17 persons are feared killed by bandits in Dukku community in Rijau local government area of Niger State.

Eyewitnesses said the attackers stormed the community at about 7:00 pm on Wednesday, and also attacked a bank at Kagara in Rafi local government area.

The attackers were said to have laid ambush on the community for several hours before unleashing mayhem on the people.

Those killed were mostly members of the local vigilante group in the area who had attempted to combat the gunmen but were overpowered.

A resident of the community told Channels Television via Telephone conversation that the bandits numbering over 120 stormed the community on bikes with sophisticated weapons.

Confirming the incident to Channels Television, the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Muhammed Sani Idris however said people were killed, but that the casualty figure was yet to be ascertained.

RELATED: Tension In Niger Community As Suspected Bandits Attack Bank

“Many people were killed quite okay. But, we cannot tell the exact number of persons that were killed. We are still trying to gather more facts on the incident, and as soon as we have an official figure, I would communicate to you,” Idris said in a telephone conversation with our reporter in Minna the Niger State capital.

Meanwhile, Governor Abubakar Bello in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel-Berje, on Thursday, has appealed to residents of Kagara to remain calm, assuring that the government is deploying resources at its disposal to ensure the protection of their lives and property.

According to the Governor, “No responsible government will fold its arms and allow law-abiding and innocent citizens to be mauled down.”

The Governor acknowledged the enormity of the security challenges facing the state but assured the people that the state in active collaboration with President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies remain undaunted in its war against the lower societal elements making life miserable for the people.

The Governor commiserated with the families of those who lost their lives in the attack and prayed for a speedy recovery for the injured victims.

He solicited the cooperation of the people for their useful information to the security agencies, assuring them that their identity will be kept confidential.

Similarly, the Police in Niger State confirmed the killing of 11 persons in Wednesday’s attack at Kagara in Rafi local government area of the state.

Commissioner of Police Adamu Usman gave the confirmation shortly after visiting the area with some of his men.

He said six of the attackers were killed by policemen during the incident on Wednesday.

Usman however revealed that a policeman, a private security guard, a local vigilante, and one resident were gunned down by the gunmen, while a boy died from shock.

Speaking on the attack on the bank, CP Usman said the attackers were unable to gain access to the bank due to heavy firepower from the Policemen who scared the attackers away.

Police Confirm Eleven Deaths In Niger Bank Attack

A map showing Niger state.
A map showing Niger state.

 

The Police in Niger State has finally confirmed the killing of eleven persons in Wednesday’s attack on a bank and other houses at Kagara in Rafi local government area of the state.

Commissioner of Police in the Niger State, Adamu Usman gave the confirmation on Thursday shortly after visiting the area with some of his men.

He said six of the attackers were killed by policemen during the incident on Wednesday.

Usman, however, revealed that a policeman, a private security guard, a local vigilante and one resident were gunned down by the gunmen, while a boy died from shock.

Speaking on the attack on the bank, CP Usman said the attackers were unable to gain access into the bank due to heavy firepower from the Policemen who scared the attackers away.

On the same day, at least 17 persons were feared killed by bandits in Dukku community in Rijau local government area of Niger State.

Eyewitnesses said the attackers stormed the community at about 7:00 pm on Wednesday, and also attacked a bank at Kagara in Rafi local government area.

The attackers were said to have laid ambush on the community for several hours before unleashing mayhem on the people.

Those killed were mostly members of the local vigilante group in the area who had attempted to combat the gunmen but were overpowered.

A resident of the community told Channels Television via Telephone conversation that the bandits numbering over 120 stormed the community on bikes with sophisticated weapons.

Confirming the incident to Channels Television, the Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Muhammed Sani Idris however said people were killed, but that the casualty figure was yet to be ascertained.

“Many people were killed quite okay. But, we cannot tell the exact number of persons that were killed.

“We are still trying to gather more facts on the incident, and as soon as we have an official figure, I would communicate to you,” Idris said in a telephone conversation with our reporter in Minna the Niger State capital.

Niger State Records Two More COVID-19 Cases

 

Niger State has recorded two more cases of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the state to eight.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Muhammad Makusidi, disclosed this on Thursday while giving an update on the cases recorded in the state.

He explained that one of the new cases is the husband of the only woman at the isolation center from Suleja and a returnee from Kano and a second new case is a man already at the quarantine center from Zumba, and also a returnee from Kano.

READ ALSO:  COVID-19: Kano JOHESU Decries Inadequate Training Of Members, PPE Supply

He, however, revealed that the Limawa index case is now negative and awaiting a second test confirmation before he can be discharged.

The Commissioner also disclosed that all the Almajiris, including their Mallams, have been confirmed negative and ready for discharge accordingly.

Meanwhile, two returnees have been received in the hospital, one from Lagos and the other from Ibadan; both with relevant symptoms but clinically stable.