A bandit group which masterminded the abduction of schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Zamfara State, earlier this year, is behind the mass abduction of students from Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area in Niger State, Daily Trust can report.
Members of the gang had moved en masse to Niger State penultimate Saturday, a reliable security source had told Daily Trust at the time. There was no reason adduced for the migration.
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The bandits’ group, headed by a notorious bandit called Na-Sanda, operated from Jangebe forest in Zamfara’s Talata Mafara Local Government for years. Na-Sanda is himself originally from Jaja in Zurmi Local Government.
Bandits from the group had attacked the premises of the girls’ school in the early hours of Friday, February 26, and herded away about 300 girls from their dormitories.
The girls were released four days after abduction and it was not clear if payment was made for their release. Kidnappings by groups like that are typically for ransom.
“They left with all their families in hundreds of motorcycles,” the source who carved for anonymity said, adding that the gang with about 500 members, travelled in over 300 motorcycles.
Just about a week after moving to the increasingly pressured Niger State, the bandits were reported to have attacked Tegina town where they abducted about 200 students and teachers from Salihu Tanko Islamic School in the town.
Unspecified number of other people were abducted alongside the Islamiyya school children including a former councilor in the area.
It is unclear, however, where the abductees are being held. There were reports of release of some children by the bandits who were not able to keep up with the pace of the trek into the bush.
Bello jets out amidst uncertainty
With the abductees still facing uncertain fate, Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has left the state for an undisclosed country.
Bello according to his Chief Press Secretary, Mary Noel Berje left the country on a security mission.
Berje on her Facebook post said the governor left the country to explore all possibilities of strengthening the state’s security architecture before the abduction of the school children but he is expected to be back soon.
Meanwhile, close source to the governor confirmed that he left the country after the incident because he was at the wedding of one of his commissioner’s children few hours before the reported abduction.
“The Governor, who is expected back in the country within the shortest period of time, has assured the rescue and safe return of the children,” the post read.
Tegina residents narrate ordeal
Following the bandits’ attack on Tegina town, residents of the area have narrated their ordeals in their hands of the bandits.
Some of them who spoke to our correspondent revealed that three women were raped in broad light by the bandits in the course of the attack.
A resident, Danjuma Aliyu who spoke by telephone to Daily Trust said; “one of the women had a baby on her hand, one of the bandits raped her in the open and after raping her, he left her and her baby and left with the others. Two other girls were treated in the same manner.”
It was gathered that parents of the abducted children have started coming out to file their complaints as government officials and security agents were on ground to record their complaints.
One Musa Aminu, a resident of Tegina said it would be a tough one to get the exact number of children abducted on time since there is usually no formal registration of children in the Islamiyya school.
He however said that if all parents would come out on time and submit to the head count, it will help the government know the exact number of children abducted.
It was learnt the ever-busy Tegina town was a ghost of itself now as everyone stayed indoors while shops remained closed.
We’re on pursuit of the bandits – Gov’t
Niger State Government has disclosed that it is in pursuit of the bandits who abducted children from an Islamic school in Tegina.
This is as the government said it is putting in measures to ensure safe release of abductees.
The state deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, disclosed this while updating journalists on the abduction at the Government House, Minna,
“Government is on the pursuit of the bandits and efforts are being put in place to identify the bandits. Although the number of the kidnapped school children is not fully ascertained, however, efforts by security agencies to secure their release have been intensified,” Ketso said.
He said there are many government schools in Tegina but due the incessant attack on schools, government has temporarily changed them to day schools and made sure every primary and secondary school has a security team to provide security.