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A resident, who witnessed the kidnapping of 27 students and 15 workers of Government Science College, Kagara in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, has described how the kidnappers tied their victims in pairs and took them away.
The man, who lives close to the school, confided in The PUNCH on Wednesday that the bandits, who wore military uniform, stormed the school at 2am.
When one of correspondents got to the school at 2pm on Wednesday, he observed that many buildings including classrooms and hostels were dilapidated.
The source, who described how the incident occurred, disclosed that before moving to the GSS Kagara, the bandits had parked their motorcycles close to Attahiru Secondary School, a distance of one kilometre to the GSS Kagara.
He stated, “When they (the victims) were being taken away, I saw that they were tied in pairs and marched to where the motorcycles were parked from where they were taken into the bush.”
A worker of the school, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The PUNCH that the gunmen entered the school from the rear, where the fence had fallen.
According to him, they headed to the staff quarters, where 15 workers, including teachers were kidnapped before going to students’ hostel.
According to the source, a senior secondary school 3, Bejamin Abila, who raised the alarm when the bandits were approaching the hostel was shot dead.
“They abducted 27 students in the hostel and tied all the abductees in pairs before taking them out of the school,” the source stated.
Another source lamented the dilapidation of the school, saying it was prone to bandits’ attacks.
Khamis Tahir, parent of a worker in the school, in an interview with The PUNCH, said “ I got a call that kidnappers had invaded the Government Science College, Kagara. Immediate after my prayer, I moved down to the school. I realised that my daughter together with some students had been kidnapped. We are here and many security agents have been moving up and down here”, but up till now we have not heard anything.”
The state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, after a security meeting in Minna, the state capital, ordered the immediate closure of boarding schools in four local government areas of the state, which had witnessed increased kidnappings.
The local government areas affected are Rafi, Mariga, Munya and Shiroro.
Bello said the action was necessary to save lives of the students as the areas had already been taken over by bandits.
The governor appealed to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to deploy necessary mechanism in flushing out the bandits.
He ruled out payment of ransom to free the abducted students and workers, saying the state government adopted the policy to discourage the kidnappers from using the proceeds of their crime to purchase more weapons.
Also on Wednesday, the governor met with a Kaduna based cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, at the Government House, Minna.
After the meeting, Gumi told journalists that he would visit Kagara, where were 27 students were kidnapped.
“The governor and I spoke on several ways to deal with insecurity in a holistic manner and find solutions to the insecurity problem in the state,” the cleric stated.
Buhari has dispatched security officials to Niger – Aide
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday said the President had directed the Armed Forces and Police to ensure immediate and safe return of abducted students.
He said the President had also dispatched to Minna a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials and other stakeholders.
Shehu announced this in a statement titled, “President Buhari condemns school abduction in Niger State, dispatches security officials to the state.”
The statement read in part, “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 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.
“President Buhari has assured all 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 this saga, and avoid such cowardly attacks on schools in the future.”
Shehu also quoted the President as saying that his prayers were with families of the victims of the attack as he condemned “as cowardly the attack on innocent school children.” – Punch.