President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed security agencies to rescue the remaining female students of the Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State, who were abducted in the early hours of Friday by terrorists.
This is as police confirmed the rescue of seven of the abducted students.
Daily Trust reports that bandits invaded the university Friday morning and abducted an unspecified number of students from three off-campus hostels.
Troops of the Nigerian Army engaged the attackers in a fierce gun battle, but they managed to escape with the victims.
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The president, in a statement on Sunday by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, condemned what he called the “reprehensible act of abduction”.
He said there was no moral justification for such heinous crimes against innocent victims whose only “offense” was their pursuit of quality education.
The president, who commiserated with all families directly impacted by the “sad incident”, said his administration had a solemn duty to protect every Nigerian citizen.
He assured the families of the abducted students that no effort would be spared in ensuring their safe return in line with the commitment of his administration.
Tinubu promised that the federal government was determined to ensure that educational institutions remained sanctuaries of knowledge, growth, and opportunity, and totally free from the menacing acts of terrorists.
Police confirm rescue of 7 students
However, police authorities in Zamfara have confirmed the rescue of seven of the abducted students.
A statement issued by the Police Public Relations Office (PPRO) in Zamfara, ASP Yazid Abubakar, indicated that the command had deployed an additional police tactical team to intensify the search for the remaining students.
He confirmed that the bandits riding on about 50 motorcycles armed with sophisticated weapons invaded three residents of students’ rented apartments in Sabon Gida Village near the Federal University Gusau and kidnapped unspecified numbers of students to an unknown destination.
“The bandits also entered the university premises and ransacked some offices as the school is unfenced.
“The police striking force of the command swung into search and rescue operations, which yielded a positive result and seven kidnapped victims so far have been rescued and reunited with the management of the school,” the statement said.
The PPRO said the state Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Shehu Dalijan, had visited the scene and intensified security around the university to prevent future occurrences.
It’s a threat to girl-child education – ACF
Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has described the kidnapping of the students as a threat to girl-child education in northern Nigeria.
It urged the federal government to rejig its security architecture and come up with new multi-pronged containment strategies against security and related existential threats bedeviling schools and communities.
ACF in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Professor Tukur Muhammad Baba, called on the federal government to spare no efforts in ensuring that the abducted students were released unharmed forthwith.
The statement said, “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, nor elsewhere in the world.
“For ACF, the incident is even more worrisome, being of far-reaching negative implications, among many others, for access to education which, especially for the girl-child, is subject to many formidable challenges in the best of times.
“A pointer to the unfolding tragedy is in an apparent voice note on social media where a girl was heard stating that her father had called her home, ordering that her pursuit of a university degree be abandoned; another was heard advising intending candidates for admission not to select this particular institution as a place of choice. This is an absolutely and highly regrettable development to be condemned in all its ramifications.”
Amnesty Int’l seeks probe
Also, Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, in a statement, urged Nigerian authorities to take all lawful measures and do more to rescue the students.
Sanusi 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 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.
“The authorities appear to have learned nothing from the series of school abductions that took place across the northern part of Nigeria. The latest abduction clearly shows, there appears to be no framework in place to prevent further school abductions.
“The Nigerian authorities must investigate the inexcusable security lapses that allowed this abduction to take place,” he concluded.
From Yusha’u A. Ibrahim, who was in Gusau, Muideen Olaniyi (Abuja) & Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna)