NORTHERN Nigerian socio-cultural group the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has expressed disquiet over the embarrassing revelation by Zamfara State governor Bello Matawalle that some of its members were behind the recent kidnappings in his state.
Last week, 276 pupils were abducted from Government Girls’ Secondary School, Jangebe in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State. After several days of intense negotiations, the girls were freed yesterday, with Governor Matawalle revealing that Nigerians will be shocked when they find out that the abductions were sponsored by well-placed people.
Yesterday, Governor Matawalle also pointed out that several people had offered the bandits money not to release the schoolgirls as part of the scam. Uncomfortable with these revelations, the ACF has challenged the governor to name the culprits backing the criminals, saying if he does not do so, he should be charged as an accomplice.
ACF chairman Chief Audu Ogbeh berated the governor, saying he should stop embarrassing the north, saying his statement was unguarded. He urged security agencies to interrogate the Zamfara State governor over the identities of people behind the kidnapping of Jangebe students.
According to the ACF, security operatives should treat the governor as an accomplice to the kidnappers, if he fails to tell Nigerians those behind the dastardly act. Pointing out that the north is embarrassed by the statement of the governor and insecurity ravaging the region, the ACF said it is stunned by the gravity of the allegation.
Chief Ogbeh said: “The governor is reported in the media to have told 17 emirs who paid a sympathy visit to him on the kidnap of 317 school girls from Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe in Talata Mafara that he knew the identities of the kidnappers and if he revealed their identities, Nigerians would be shocked. We ask the governor to reveal their identities and let Nigerians be shocked or even the heavens fall.
“We also ask the security agencies to question the governor on the identities of the criminals he is trying to hide. If he refuses to disclose their identities, he must be treated as an accomplice to the criminal act of kidnapping.
“The ACF has been embarrassed by the spate of kidnappings especially of schoolchildren spreading like wild fire all over the north. People in positions of authority that will help us out of this mess like Governor Matawalle must stop embarrassing the north and country with careless statements on a serious issue like the kidnappings of school children.
“Zamfara State and the north are way behind the rest of the country in educational development. This serial kidnappings of school pupils in the north will only worsen a bad and unacceptable state of education in the north.”
Meanwhile, the ACF also called on the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria to halt forthwith, the blockade of foodstuffs to the southern part of the country. Chief Ogbeh, a former agriculture minister, said such a dastardly act was only carried out during war and that Nigeria was not at war.
Responding to the ACF’s criticism, Governor Matawalle’s media aide, Yusuf Idris, advised the forum not to be in a hurry regarding governor’s promise to name the people behind the Jangebe abduction. he said Governor Matawalle would surely tell the world who these people are.