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How do they get away with it?

It’s almost 10 years since we woke up to the very upsetting news that gunmen had invaded a girls’ school in rural Borno, and gone…

It’s almost 10 years since we woke up to the very upsetting news that gunmen had invaded a girls’ school in rural Borno, and gone away with almost 300 students there. The Chibok girls soon made headlines around the world. And in no time at all the abductors were discovered to be none other than Boko Haram insurgents.

In shock and anger, we kept asking the question: How did they do it? We reasoned that even if it’s animals that were taken away, the movement of over 200 animals could not go unnoticed.

The only explanation was that they did it under the cover of the night, and so were able to abduct the girls and sneak away without the locals even noticing it.

Unfortunately, since the Chibok girls’ episode, hundreds of students and pupils have been kidnapped from their schools in many other parts of Northern Nigeria; with a few episodes in the South. And in most cases, since they have grown bolder and are better armed, they invaded schools in broad daylight and commit their ignoble crimes without fear of detection.

From another girls’ school in Yobe, to a boys’ school in Katsina to an Islamiyya school in Niger, and a boarding school in Kebbi, no group of knowledge seekers were spared the nefarious activities of the hardened criminals we chose to call bandits.

This latest case in Kaduna State is very disheartening. Almost like the Chibok case 10 years ago, a total of 287 pupils and students were carted away, into the bush, from a primary and secondary school in Kuriga village of Kaduna State.

A seventeen-year-old student of the school, Mustapha Abubakar, who managed to escape from the bandits narrated how much suffering they went through, walking on foot under intense heat, for several hours.

Though some were primary school pupils, those inhuman monsters who abducted them couldn’t care less that they were torturing helpless little children, in pursuit of their greed for ransom.

But the key question for me is, how do they escape being stopped or attacked by security personnel? Yes, the locals couldn’t do anything because the bandits were always armed. Indeed, in the case of this Kuriga abduction, we heard that a young man who tried to rescue his brother was promptly shot dead. So, it’s understandable if ordinary people could only watch and cry. But surely, they can alert the police and the military, even if it’s through phone calls. How can some rag-tag army of thugs shepherd hundreds of people on foot to wherever they wanted, over the course of several hours, without anyone intercepting them or launching an attack on them?

Any way you look at it, these criminals really enjoy the protection of members of our security outfits or else have some gentlemanly agreement to look the other way when the criminals are at work.

From the time of Goodluck Jonathan right through to Muhammadu Buhari and now to PBAT, no school abduction had been foiled even once, despite the number of hours it takes the bandits to move their victims.

If we had serious security personnel, where they are needed, these monstrous criminals couldn’t be making it to their hideouts alive.

And just as like some said before, a helicopter was hovering over them as they walked in the bushes, with the bandits driving them on.

The young escapee Mustapha Abubakar disclosed this. Many other victims of kidnapping have mentioned these mysterious helicopters that either visit the kidnappers’ den at night to drop provisions or simply hover above them, as if to provide some form of assistance. 

Whatever is the case, the federal government as well as Kaduna State government, must do whatever it takes to save these children and their teachers, in the earliest possible time.

Between the heat and the hunger as well as their horrible living conditions, most of them will end up with lifelong trauma, even if they returned home alive.

So, to end this unwarranted torture of innocent children and others, our government must channel our security apparatus towards the mystery behind the bandits’ scourge.

Who are these bandits? Why are they everywhere in the North? Did you notice how they abducted another 15 students and a woman in Sokoto, just two days after the Kaduna incident?

What is it that emboldens them? Who is giving them the arms to use and the protection from law enforcers?

Like I’ve written here a few weeks ago, we need to declare a state of emergency on security and focus all our energies and resources towards securing the lives and properties of Nigerians.

If only our president will think beyond foreign trade jamborees and concentrate on wooing investors through securing the nation. If only the National Security Adviser will do what he is paid to do by pressing this hard on Mr President. If only our senators will think beyond budget padding and rise up against bandits and insurgents!

Only then will we really see the end of these horror stories and, hopefully, the beginning of a secure and prosperous Nigeria.

But to get to this stage we must find out how these criminals get away with it. It’s our only key to knowing how to fight them. May The Almighty save the pupils and students of Kuriga school, as well as all our compatriots currently in the hands of these evil men. Amin


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