...seven girls escape to freedom
Some gunmen suspected to be bandits have abducted 317 schoolgirls at Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
A staff of the school, who begged for anonymity, said the bandits arrived in the school around 1am on Friday with Hilux vehicles and motorcycles and forcefully evacuated the students.
He narrated that some of the bandits were in uniforms and pretended to be security personnel, then later broke into the students hostels and abducted more than 300 students.
“When they came into the school, we thought they were security personnel but to our utmost fear and dismay, they started putting the girls into Hilux vehicles and motorcycles then drove out of the school,” the source said, adding that the bandits were in the school for several hours without any challenge due to absence of the security agents.
A parent of one of the girls, who gave his name as Malam Lawal Jangebe, said, “I nearly fainted when I heard about the abduction of the students including my daughter.”
Confirming the incident, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Mohammed Shehu, said, “We are right now on our way going to the school where the incident happened.”
Shehu said that, the police would brief the press when they returned from Jangebe town where the students were abducted.
The Zamfara abduction occurred some eight days after gunmen kidnapped dozens of students and workers of Government Science College in Kagara, Niger State.
Bandits had also last year kidnapped over 300 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.
Aside from Kankara and Kagara, non-state actors had also abducted hundreds of secondary school girls from Chibok, in Borno State; and Dapchi in Yobe State.
Meanwhile, seven out of the 317 female students abducted at the Jangebe Government Girls Secondary School in Zamfara State have escaped from their abductors.
A source who spoke with Channels Television from Jangebe town via a phone call on Friday evening confirmed that the girls returned home on their own as they claimed they manoeuvred their way back from the bandits while trekking along the forest.
According to the source, the escaped students said more had also escaped and are expected back soon.
The girls were abducted from their boarding school in the early hours of Friday.
In reaction to the development, the Zamfara Police Commissioner, CP Abutu Yar, had earlier said a joint search and rescue operation was already underway with a view to rescuing all 317 students.
CP Yaro said the Force Commander Operations Hadarin Daji, Major General Aminu Bande, Brigade Commander 1 Brigade, Nigeria Army Gusau, and other state government officials led a heavily armed Re-enforcement team to Jangebe to complement the ongoing rescue operation in the locations where the students were believed to have been whisked to.
The Commissioner while interfacing with the Principal of the school and the parents, appealed to everyone to remain calm assuring them that the joint efforts of the police and other security agencies will surely lead to a successful rescue of the students.
Meanwhile, the 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.