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Katsina abduction: 668 students still missing – School register shows

Rescue our children, but don't use force, parents beg FG.

Six hundred and sixty-eight students of the Government Secondary School Kankara, Katsina State are still missing, the school’s register has shown.

One of our reporters, who was at the school on Sunday gathered that at the time of the incident, the school had 1,074 students in both its Junior and Senior Secondary sections in session.

A source in the school said, “in the junior section, there are six classes, comprising JSS 1A, which has 58 students, 1B, which has 62 students and 1C, which has 64 students; JSS 2A has 74 students, 2B has 79 students and 2C has 75 students.

Parents gather during a meeting at the Government Science School in Kankara yesterday, after gunmen abducted students from the school in Katsina State on Friday night

“As for the senior section, we have seven classes, which include SS1A, 97; 1B, 108; 1C, 106 and 1D, 118. While in SS2, we have 2A, 74; 2B, 79 and 2C, 80, giving a total of 1074 students.”

Residents of Kankara observe as an air force helicopter conveying the federal government’s delegation landed along Katsina road in the state on Sunday

The source added that both SS3 and JSS 3 students have completed their exams, hence they were not in school during the attack.

Daily Trust also gathered that 270 students were rescued from the school on the night of the attack and with the number of those who returned from the bush the following night or those who were reported to have gone home by their parents, the number of those found rose to 406 as on Sunday morning.

However, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, yesterday said 333 students were still missing as against 668 found by Daily Trust during interactions with sources in the school.

Rescue our children, Parents beg

Parents of the missing students who spoke with Daily Trust have called on the authorities to intensify efforts at ensuring that their children are rescued as soon as possible.

Alhaji Isma’l Kafur said, “It is really disturbing. These are young boys aged 12 to 16, subjected to this terrible condition. We cannot eat or sleep well because we don’t know their condition of health or even their whereabouts.

“My son is 14-years-old and he is in SS1. From our home town, Kafur, there are other four boys who are still missing.”

He said he saw one of the boys who escaped from the kidnappers’ enclave, urging the state government to intensify efforts to rescue the students. He, however, pleaded against the use of force.

Abubakar Ayuba Gozaki said two of his children, Nasir and Salahudden, were among the abducted students.

“When I took home their luggage yesterday, it was as if I took their corpses. Their mothers and other relatives were crying uncontrollably, and that is why I am here again today to see whether we can get any consoling information about them,” he said.

He also called on the government to apply diplomatic methods in rescuing the children, saying “if they decide to use only force, our children will be killed. So we are pleading with the government not to use force.”

‘I can lead a rescue team if allowed’

A parent of one of the missing students who identified himself as Abdurrazak Sani, from Funtua, said he is the commandant of the vigilante group of Jabiri in Funtua and he could lead a rescue team to search for the missing children.

“When I came I asked if something was done about it but I was told nothing was done. I asked some of the security men to follow me to the direction where the children were taken, but they said they had no instruction to do that. I also asked the vigilante to come with me but they declined.

“I took the boy that came with me on a motorcycle and we were able to pick some things along the way, which include students’ uniforms, torch lights, soaps and many other items, which we returned to the school,” he said.

Hajiya Fa’iza Hamza Kankara, who could not control her emotions, said as a mother, she could neither eat nor sleep from the moment she heard about the unfortunate incident. She called on President Buhari and the Katsina State Governor, Masari, to come to their aid.

Another woman narrated how she forced two of her children to go back to school that fateful night after they had pleaded with her to allow them to pass the night at home.

“They really pleaded that they wanted to sleep at home but I forced them to go back to school, none of them has returned. I blame myself for their predicament,” she said.

FG’s delegation visits Kankara

A federal government delegation led by the Minister of Defence, General Bashir Salihi Magashi and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu were in Kankara, Sunday, to commiserate with the parents and the school authorities of GSSS Kankara over the attack.

The delegation, which arrived in two helicopters, landed along the Katsina road in Kankara and moved in a motorcade to the palace of the district head of Kankara, from where they proceeded to the school.

Protest in Kankara

Some placards carrying protesters, led by a woman in Kankara town on Sunday protested over the abduction. The protesters demanded the prompt rescue of the students.

A resident of Kankara said the protesters initially dispersed when they saw police van approaching them around the Kankara motor park, but somehow regrouped and went round the town. They also went to the school, while urging the government to rescue the students.

We’ll rescue them soon – Defence minister

The federal government pledged to rescue the schoolboys as soon as possible.

Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) made the pledge when he led a delegation of heads of security and intelligence agencies on a visit to Governor Aminu Bello Masari.

The minister, who declared armed bandits as terrorists, explained that he held an all-inclusive emergency meeting with heads of security and intelligence agencies where they strategised on measures to bring armed banditry to a decisive end.

He noted that security operatives had carried out an aerial surveillance of the Rugu Forest and planned a rescue operation with minimal civilian casualty.

The head of the federal government delegation also extended President Muhammadu Buhari’s grief over the incident and gave an assurance that all the abducted schoolboys will be rescued in the next couple of hours.

333 students still missing – Masari

In his remarks, Governor Aminu Bello Masari said a total of 333 students were still missing out of the eight hundred and thirty-nine students that were in the school during the attack.

Katsina State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari
Katsina State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari

He said he had directed the school management to open a students’ register and make a phone call to every parent that has children in the school to ascertain the number of missing students.

Masari said he directed the closure of all boarding schools in the state to forestall the possibility of another kidnap incident. Meanwhile, the governor, the defence minister and heads of security and intelligence agencies held a closed-door meeting.

However, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told the BBC Hausa Service that only 10 boys are with the bandits.

The BBC Hausa bulletin read, “The Government of Nigeria has said its security forces have surrounded the location where gunmen have kept schoolchildren”.

UNICEF condemns attack

The United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) has condemned the attack, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all the children.

UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Marie-Pierre Poirier in a statement issued said “UNICEF is deeply concerned about these acts of violence. Attacks on schools are a violation of children’s rights. This is a grim reminder that abductions of children and widespread grave violations of children’s rights continue to take place in northern Nigeria”

‘Government yet to learn from Chibok, Dapchi’

The Country Director of Plan International Nigeria, Dr. Hussaini Abdu said the abduction of students by unknown individuals is an indication that the nation and government has not learnt from the unfortunate incidents of the previous abductions of over 300 students.

The abducted Chibok schoolgirls

He noted the abduction of 276 girls from the Chibok Secondary School in Borno State in 2014 and another set of 110 girls at the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018.

The Dapchi schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram and later freed in 2018

“Following the two previous incidents and other occurrences of kidnap of students in boarding schools across the country, the Nigerian government by now should have put in place adequate security arrangements to ensure the safety of children learning and kept in the care of schools and education authorities, especially in such locations susceptible to attacks by non-state armed groups,” said Abdu.

Rep condemns abduction

A member of the House of Representatives, representing Faskari, Kankara, Sabuwa constituency, Murtala Isah Mai Nauyi has condemned the attack.

He said the attack on innocent school children was not only cowardly but callous and a crime against humanity.

One killed, 3 abducted in Katsina

Meanwhile, multiple attacks by gunmen yesterday in Katsina led to the death of one and abduction of three others, Daily Trust reports.

Two of the attacks were recorded along Jibia – Batsari road in Batsari Local Government Area while the third was the killing of one Bishir Mandela Jibiya, a farmer in Jibia LGA.

Locals say gunmen blocked the ever-busy Batsari-Jibia market road shooting at motorists and commuters heading to the weekly Jibia market from Batsari town.

Our reporter gathered that the first attack was on a Golf Volkswagen where its elderly driver, Alhaji Hassan Yardaji along with two yet to be identified women were abducted.

On Sunday morning, another vehicle was shot at but the victims escaped with gunshot wounds.

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