• Army, police confirm incident, say we freed 84 victims, recovered four cows
• Gunmen kidnap Edo head of service, kill driver
• APC govs, Sultan, CAN welcome Kankara boys
• CAN calls for Leah Sharibu, others’ release
Again, gunmen have abducted Katsina students. About 80 students were affected in the kidnap on Saturday night at Mahuta community in the Dandume Local Government Area of the state.
The victims have, however, been rescued by police and vigilante groups, who gave the gang a hot chase that ended in the rescue of the students.
The new development came just as news filtered in that the Edo State Head of Service, Anthony Okungbowa, was kidnapped and his driver killed in Benin City, the state capital.
In the Katsina latest kidnap, two women, taken along with the students by the gunmen, were also freed. The students, who attend an Islamic school, referred to as Makarantan Islamiyya, had held a maulud procession at Unguwar Al-Kasim, a neighbouring village, and students were on their way home when the kidnappers struck.
A source in the area, Surajo Mande, said gunmen ambushed and kidnapped them on their way home.
“They abducted many of the students, most of whom are children and teenagers, and shepherded them into the forest but police, vigilantes and other community members, pursued them and were able to rescue many of the students.
“They also rescued two women who were kidnapped along the road and cattle the gunmen had rustled from a village close-by,” he said. According to him, the gunmen shot one of the vigilantes, who had been responding to treatment in a hospital.
One of the locals, Sagir Dandume, however, said the number of students abducted was more than 100, adding that there were all rescued.
The police spokesperson in the state, Gambo Isah, confirmed the incident in a statement he issued to newsmen yesterday morning.
The statement read: “On 19/12/2020 at about 2200hrs, a distress call was received by DPO Dandume that some Islamiyya Students of Hizburrahim Islamiyya, Mahuta village, Dandume LGA of Katsina State, numbering about 80, while on their way back from Maulud occasion celebrated at Unguwan Alkasim village, Dandume to Mahuta village, were accosted by bandits who had already kidnapped four persons and rustled twelve 12 cows from Danbaure village, Funtua LGA, trying to escape into the forest.
“On receipt of the report, the DPO led Operations Puff Adder, Sharan Daji and Vigilante group to the area and engaged the bandits in a fierce gun duel.”
It added that the police team succeeded in dislodging the bandits and rescuing 84 kidnapped victims and recovered 12 rustled cows. According to him, search parties were still combing the area with a view to arresting the injured bandits and/or recovery of their dead bodies.
Also confirming the abduction, the military high command said, yesterday, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji, in collaboration with police and local vigilantes, rescued about 84 schoolchildren on Saturday.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, who made the confirmation in a statement in Abuja, said: “Troops of Operation Hadarin Daji in collaboration with police and local vigilante deployed at Dandume LGA of Katsina State received a distress call about 11:30p.m. on December 19, 2020 from locals at Mahuta village that suspected bandits were moving with unconfirmed number of Islamiya children and rustled cattle.
“In reaction to the distress call, troops quickly mobilised to the scene, laid ambush and blocked bandits’ route along Daudawa-Kadisau and road Sheme Mairuwa and Unguwar Audu village.
“While patiently waiting for the bandits at the ambush and blocking position, troops established contact with the bandits and engaged them.”
Enenche said the troops’ superior fire forced the bandits to abandon the children and cattle and flee into the forest. The abduction came on the heels of the kidnap of over 300 students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) Kankara recently. The students spent six days in their captors’ den before they were set free last Thursday.
Many of the students vowed never to go back to the school, while some opted to attend a non-boarding school in their respective communities.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Aminu Masari had condemned the abduction, and called for more effort by security operatives to fish out the perpetrators.
IN Edo State, it was gathered the head of service of the state was abducted at gunpoint and whisked away to an unknown destination on Saturday evening while returning from a social event at Oza Road in the Orhionmwon Local Government Area.
Sources disclosed that the HoS was hurriedly moved into a forest by his captors and that they had not contacted members of his family for ransom.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Police Public Relations Officer in Edo State, Chidi Nwabuzor, was unsuccessful as he did not take calls and had not returned the call, as of press time.
MEANWHILE, APC governors, CAN, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of Jama’ atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar, have commended the Federal, Katsina and Zamfara state governments and security agencies for securing hundreds of Kankara students abducted by insurgents.
The Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), chaired by Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, noted that the rescue attested to the capacity and competence of Nigerian security agencies to protect, defend and secure
The governors called on Nigerians to work towards more effective and efficient responses to security challenges in the country and enjoined security agencies to reinforce their capacity to protect and defend life and properties of all Nigerians in every part of the country.
“We will ensure that, as leaders, we are able to work in harmony with all governors, political and non-political leaders for the restoration of peace across all parts of the country, irrespective of any difference. Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and must be secured as “one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God” as affirmed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic, as amended,” the governors said in statement.
The Sultan, while praising the government for the rescue of the students, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to replicate the zeal towards rescuing other students still in the den of Boko Haram.
He said in a statement signed by the Secretary General of JNI, Sheikh Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, that “efforts like these will definitely contribute immensely in restoring confidence of the citizenry in the government, seeing that it is practically and genuinely disturbed and involved in ameliorating their problems, especially that of insecurity which is bedeviling the nation.”
He suggested the constitution of a committee of eminent security experts by Northern Governors’ Forum, retired uniformed men, who are seasoned and credible, among others to study and review security situations and proffer solutions for the region.
The Kaduna CAN Chairman, Reverend Joseph Hayab, at the weekend, while commending the release of the boys, canvassed freedom for Leah Sharibu and others still in the custody of the insurgents
He hailed the release of the schoolchildren and asked government to deploy the same spirit and tempo to get other children with Boko Haram out of their den.
He said: “One can imagine the joy, peace, and excitement of the parents and all well-wishers on the heels of the news of the schoolchildren’s return.
“CAN equally appeals that the same tactics engaged to get 300 students released should be urgently deployed in getting Leah Sharibu and others out of captivity. Our prayer is that Nigerians will celebrate this Christmas and enter the New Year with hope for a secure nation.”
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