Outrage As Bandits Hold 21 Zamfara Female Students

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President Bola Tinubu, on Sunday, fumed over the abduction of 30 students of the Federal University, Gusau, in Zamfara State by bandits in the early hours of Friday.

As of Sunday, 21 of the students were still in captivity; seven had been rescued while two escaped.

The Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Mani Mummuni, who was at the university to sympathise with the families and the school authorities over the incident, called on security agencies to hasten the rescue of the kidnapped students.

In a press statement, the spokesperson for the Zamfara State Police Command, Yazid Abubakar, assured that the command would ensure the rescue of all the kidnapped students.

He stressed that the command had deployed an additional tactical team for search-and-rescue operations.

The police noted that “On September 22, 2023, at about 0250hrs, suspected bandits, riding on about 50 motorcycles, armed with sophisticated weapons invaded three students’ rented apartments in Sabon Gida Village near the Federal University Gusau and kidnapped an unspecified number of students, taking them to an unknown destination.”

The President, in a statement on Sunday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, directed security agencies to rescue the abducted students.

“There is no moral justification for such heinous crimes against innocent victims whose only ‘offence’ was their pursuit of quality education,” Tinubu said.

He affirmed that his “administration has a solemn duty to protect every Nigerian citizen, and in line with this commitment, assures the families of the abducted students that no effort will be spared in ensuring their safe return.”

Tinubu said his government was determined to ensure that educational institutions remained sanctuaries of knowledge, growth, and opportunity and were totally free from the menacing acts of terrorists.

Also reacting, the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Sunday, condemned the abduction of the female students of the university.

Describing the incident as “one abduction too many,” the northern body expressed concern over the development with its negative implications for girl-child education in the region.

“It is with utter consternation that the Arewa Consultative Forum received news about the abduction of mostly female students of the Federal University Gusau from their private hostels at Sabon Gida Village, Bungudu Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

“ACF condemns the abductions in the strongest of terms. It is very disconcerting that such a most unfortunate criminal incident is not the first of its kind in memory, but it certainly is one abduction far too many to occur in any community in Nigeria, or elsewhere in the world,” the group said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Prof Tukur Mohmmed-Baba.

The ACF urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, rejig the nation’s security architecture to come up with new multi-pronged containment strategies against insecurity and related existential threats.

Similarly, Amnesty International, on Sunday, called on the Federal Government to investigate the security lapses that are enabling abductions in Zamfara State.

The Country Director, Amnesty International, Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, in a statement, said, “Schools should be places of safety, and no person should have to choose between their education and their life. The Nigerian authorities have repeatedly claimed to be tackling the security situation in Zamfara state, but the ruthless activities of gunmen tell a different story. The attack on Federal University Gusau and the abduction of students may amount to a war crime, and it is a violation of international humanitarian law. It also undermines the right to education.”

Also, the Coalition of Northern Groups Students’ Wing demanded the immediate establishment of a mini-military barracks at the Federal University Gusau in Zamfara State.

In a statement by its North-West Coordinator, Muhammad Aliyu, the group called on the government to take “immediate and decisive action to ensure the safe release of the abducted students.”

“We demand that the government mobilise all necessary resources and collaborate with relevant security agencies to rescue the abducted students without further delay. Time is of the essence, and every effort must be made to ensure their prompt and safe return,” it said.

The coalition urged the government to establish “a mini military barracks that will provide adequate security cover, 24/7 surveillance for Federal University, Gusau and its host community.”

“We also demand adequate deployment and well-equipped troops to the barracks. Similarly, we request the upgrade of the police and NSCDC outpost to a divisional station with adequate personnel and sophisticated weapons to foil attacks and prevent subsequent Invasion.

“The construction of perimeter fence to protect the university from free invasion and attacks.”

Zamfara has been a hotbed of terror in recent years with the provocative kidnap of 279 female students aged between 10 and 17 during a raid by armed bandits on February 26, 2021, from Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe.