…Deploy Two Surveillance Helicopters …Buhari Describes Abduction as Inhuman, says Govt’ll Not Submit to Blackmail …Warns Against Payments of Ransom to Bandits by State Govts Officers of the Nigeria Police Force have commenced a coordinated search and rescue operation, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial arsenals, aimed at locating and rescuing the students
…Deploy Two Surveillance Helicopters
…Buhari Describes Abduction as Inhuman, says Govt’ll Not Submit to Blackmail
…Warns Against Payments of Ransom to Bandits by State Govts
Officers of the Nigeria Police Force have commenced a coordinated search and rescue operation, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial arsenals, aimed at locating and rescuing the students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State abducted in the early hours of Friday, February 26.
This is coming against the warning by President Muhammadu Buhari asking state governments to desist from giving money and vehicles to bandits. The President also vowed not to give in to blackmail by bandits. He must have been seriously irked by Friday’s abduction of the 317 students in Zamfara state which come on the heels of the abduction of 41 persons in Kagara, Niger State including 27 students, who were kidnapped more than a week ago.
To ensure the success of the ongoing operation, Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mr Mohammed Adamu has ordered the immediate deployment of two operational surveillance helicopters to Zamfara State. This is in addition to the personnel of Operation Puff Adder II earlier deployed to the State to support efforts by the Command to combat banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes.
The IGP, while condemning the barbaric and callous abduction of the innocent female students, has assured that the Police and other security forces will not relent until the abducted students are successfully rescued and reunited with their families.
The joint rescue operation is being carried out by the Police, the Military and other security agencies with support from the State Government and other stakeholders.
The IGP has called for calm and enjoins members of the public, particularly the people of Zamfara State, not to hesitate in availing the Police and the law enforcement agencies with useful information that can assist in the rescue of the abducted school girls.
In response to the abduction, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has ordered the immediate closure of all boarding schools in the state.
“As we are making efforts to strengthen security around our schools, I have directed the immediate closure of all boarding secondary schools across the State,” Matawalle said in an evening broadcast.
The kidnapping is the latest in a series of attacks, carried out by bandits, on schools across the country’s North. On February 17, bandits kidnapped 41 students and staff of the Government Science Secondary, Kagara, Niger State. The Kagara abductees are yet to be returned.
Matawalle, in his evening broadcast, assured the parents of the abducted students that the government will do everything in its power to secure their freedom.
“Currently, Police helicopters and other search and rescue operatives have been deployed to the area,” he said. “Members of the public, and most especially the parents and guardians, would be kept informed of developments with regard to this all-important mission.”
Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has also directed immediate closure of 10 boarding schools in the state as armed criminal gangs continue targeting boarding schools in the North.
The State’s Education Commissioner, Mohammed Sanusi Kiru said the government resolved to shut the public schools which are all located in the outskirts of the city to ensure safety of the students.
The affected schools are Maitama Sule Science College, Gaya; Girls Secondary School, Kachacko; Government Secondary School, Ajingi and Government Secondary School, Sumaila.
Others include Government Secondary School, Albasu; Government Secondary School, Kafin Maiyaki; Government Girls Secondary School, Jogana; Government Girls Secondary School, Gezawa; Government Girls Secondary School, Kunci and Unity School, Karaye.
Although, the information did not indicate redeployment of the students or alternative plan for the students to continue their studies, the commissioner advised parents to pick their wards at the respective schools.
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the latest abduction of hundreds of students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State as inhumane and totally unacceptable, sending out a strong warning to bandits and their sponsors.
Reacting to the incident on Friday, President Buhari said that “this administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.”
According to the President, “no criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government,” adding that, “the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.”
“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits,” he said, stressing that “our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.”
President Buhari noted that “a hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.”
He warned the bandits: “Let them not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution.”
The President appealed to state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”
He also advised states and local governments to be more proactive by improving security around schools and their surroundings.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, one of the states ravaged by banditry, has restated, that his government was against negotiating with bandits, who are terrorizing the state. In an interview with BBC, Hausa Service, the Governor stated that bandits arrested in Kaduna State would be killed. He said “the state is at war with bandits”.
Insecurity, he stated, would continue to escalate in the northwest: “If we cannot come together for the federal government to provide us with soldiers and police to enter the bush and kill all the bandits, it will be difficult to succeed in the fight against banditry”.
El-Rufai added that: “Anybody that thinks a Fulani herdsman that is engaged in kidnapping for ransom and is earning millions of naira would go back to his former life of getting N100,000 after selling a cow in a year, must be deceiving himself. Why should we compensate them after killing people, destroyed their houses? Who offended them? Ahmad Gumi is my friend and I told him my position when I discussed the issue with him”.
He regretted lack of unity among northwest Governors in dealing with banditry. While some of the Governors believed dialoguing with the bandits was the solution, others disagree. El-Rufai noted that Governors of the northwest were not united to eliminate the bandits. And doubted, if a Fulani herdsman, who is used to making millions of naira from kidnapping, would stop.
The Kaduna State Governor said he has been communicating with his Niger State counterpart, on how to end banditry. And had told Gumi that “majority of the Fulani bandits don’t believe in religion and I don’t believe in what he is doing and I disagree with his suggestion that they should be forgiven and compensated”.
El-Rufai has been the most vocal on military actions against the bandits, among his colleagues Governors in the northwest region.