20/04/2021

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Schoolgirls abduction: Zamfara govt replies APC

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In what has become a routine in Nigeria’s national life, the week starting from 21st of February to 27th, was another eventful one.

Curiously, the week seems to have followed largely what was obtainable in the cause of the preceding week.

The week, starting with the news of the release of the Kagara students, staff and other dependents, which turned out to be a ruse, the abduction of 317 students of Government Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State, the attempted arrest of Yoruba activist, Sunday Igboho, and the eventual release of the Kagara abductees, was a mixed bag of events, full of drama, but ended on a bright note with the Kagara abductees’ eventual release.

DAILY POST presents a review of happenings in the past week.

Kagara Students Aborted Release

In what would have been the best way to start the week, news filtered out, albeit through the Niger State government, officially announcing that the abducted 27 students and staff of the Government Science College, Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State had been released.

The news, for many, was a cheering one, primarily because their abduction had dominated the media space for the previous week since they were taken away by bandits in an early morning raid. Expectant parents and relatives
were already gathered at the Government House, Minna, waiting to have a warm embrace with their children and loved ones, when Governor Abubakar Bello, sadly announced to them that the students and staff of the school were still with the bandits.

“We still have the students of Kagara in the hands of the bandits and everything is being done to secure their release soonest,” Governor Bello said to heartbroken parents that faithful night at about 11.30pm.

However, the week, which started with dashed hopes for the Kagara Students, staff and their families, ended on a bright note for them with the eventual release of the abductees on Saturday, 27th.

Jengebe Girls

In what has become a routine, Nigerians were once again greeted with the grim news of the abduction of hundreds of girls from the Government Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata Malafa Local Government Area of Zamfara State by bandits on Friday, 26th.

Though the number of the abducted girls was initially simply put at over 300 by the media, a teacher in the school was reported to have given a figure in excess of 500 before the Zamfara State Police Command finally confirmed 317 as the exact number of girls taken from the school, making the Jangebe abduction the second largest, coming just behind that of Kankara, Katsina State in the dying days of 2020.

It is also instructive to note that the Jangebe abduction came less than 48 hours after political, traditional and religious leaders in the Northern part of Nigeria gathered in Kaduna to discuss the deteriorating security situation in that part of the country.

For many Nigerians, the Jangebe abduction is one too many, giving rise to anger and angry reactions from many.

Sunday Igboho’s Attempted Arrest

Also on Friday, 26th, a drama, best suited for Nollywood films played out at the Ibadan end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as a combined team of soldiers, operatives of the Department of State Services and the police reportedly attempted to arrest Yoruba activist, Chief Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

Though the DSS and the Oyo State Police Command have come out to deny their involvement in the drama, a video that trended online, however, showed a topless Igboho with hoards of youths who were daring the security agents to do their worst.

Also, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in a statement the same day, confirmed the attempted arrest, while in a follow-up interview, Igboho dared the Federal Government to first go after Boko Haram leader, Ibrahim Shekau and Kaduna based Islamic Cleric, Ahmad Gumi, who has been interfacing with bandits, before coming after him.

The botched arrest of Igboho is believed to be because of his recent activities against killer herdsmen in the South-West geopolitical zone.

Buratai, others Confirmed

Also in the cause of last week, the Nigerian Senate confirmed the nomination of immediate service chiefs as ambassadors designate amid protests from some lawmakers in the Senate and a cross-section of Nigerians.

DAILY POST had reported that President Muhammadu Buhari asked the lawmakers to confirm the nomination of former Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin; former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; former Chief of Air Staff, Ibok Ibas; and former Chief of Naval Staff, Abubakar Sadique.

Many, including the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), opposed their nomination based on their perceived failure in tackling insecurity in the country while in office as service chiefs, labelling their appointment as rewarding incompetence while others interpreted their appointment as a way of shielding them from possible investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity and rights abuses.

The Senate however confirmed them despite protests against their nomination.

Bawa’s Confirmation

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in the course of last week also got a substantive Chairman for the first time in over five years as the Nigerian Senate confirm the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa, a 40-year-old core staff of the commission.

Bawa’s confirmation also brought a conclusive end to the controversial tenure of erstwhile acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu.

Though Bawa’s appointment by President Buhari had initially been bugged by allegations of corruption and non-qualification, the new EFCC boss had a less than tedious screening and was thereafter confirmed.

Buahri’s Tough Talks

President Muhammadu Buhari, in the course of last week also woke up from his slumber, as he unmistakably spoke in tough language against bandits and other criminals who have been terrorising parts of the country, especially the North-West and the North-Central.

At a meeting of Northern political, traditional and religious leaders in Kaduna, President Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, ruled out the possibility of granting amnesty to bandits and criminals.

The President’s declaration is in obvious response to vehement calls by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been clamouring for the bandits to be granted amnesty in the same fashion with repentant Niger Delta militants.

Also on Friday, the President attempted to re-establish his authority and that of his government, when he told the murderous bandits that they are not stronger than the government.

According to the President, the military has not moved against the bandits because of collateral damage to locals and hostages held by them.

“This administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.

“No criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government, the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.

“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.

“A hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.

“Let them not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution,” the President said in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

Salihu Tanko Yakasai’s admonition, arrest and his sack

“Clearly, we as APC government, at all levels, have failed Nigerians in the number 1 duty we were elected to do which is to secure lives & properties. Not a single day goes by without some sort of insecurity in this land. This is a shame! Deal with terrorists decisively or resign.”
With the above tweet, Salihu Tanko, an aide to the Kano State Governor, Abdulahi Ganduje, booked an appointment with the Department of State Services (DSS) and also got himself sacked.

Tanko, tweeting with the handle @Dawisu, had in the wake of the abduction of the Jangebe girls, taken to Twitter to express his feeling, and asking President Buhari to resign in the process.

Though he was first thought to have been kidnapped, his father Tanko Yakasai said he was arrested by the DSS, while the secret police also confirmed same. To compound his problems, his principal, Ganduje also booted him out of his government.

It would be recalled that Salihu Tanko was once suspended by Ganduje after he expressed a critical opinion about the Buhari administration.