NIGERIA’S growing insecurity crisis got significantly worse yesterday after 300 female students of Government Secondary School Jangebe in Zamfara State were abducted by armed bandits.
In what is now becoming a vogue, armed hoodlums, terrorists and bandits have formed the habit of kidnapping school pupils, knowing the outrage will lead to them being paid huge ransoms. Boko Haram started the trend in 2014 when it abducted 267 pupils from Government Girls Secondary School Chibok in Borno State and in December last year, over 300 pupils were kidnapped from Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State.
Awash with arms and with about 80m Nigerians living below the United Nations poverty threshold, kidnapping and banditry is now a booming industry in Nigeria. Totally overwhelmed by the situation, the security forces look on helplessly as the criminal gangs grow in influence and wealth, using ransom payments to buy more sophisticated arms and equipment.
President Muhammadu Buhari has come in for fierce criticism over this matter as his government appears reluctant to confront these armed groups, especially the Fulani cattle herdsmen, who appear to be the most active. being an ethnic Fulani who rears cattle himself, President Buhari is believed to be unable to bring himself to clampdown on the herdsmen.
Yesterday, the Jangebe schoolgirls were discovered missing after a head count and the Zamfara State government has confirmed the abduction. Alhaji Abubakar Dauran, the Zamfara State commissioner for security and home affairs, said the abductors in their hundreds invaded the town and took away the students at about 2 am.
Alhaji Dauran said: “I can confirm to you now that we have sadly received the report on the abduction of the students of GGSS Jangebe and right now, I am on my way to the school.
“At this moment, I cannot say how many students were taken away by the gunmen until I get there but we have already mobilised security men and members of the vigilantes who are now in pursuit of the abductors.”
One staff at the school added: “The gunmen in their hundreds invaded the town around 2am on Friday, shot sporadically in the air to scare the residents before coming into the school. After taking away most of the students, we rounded up those that escaped or hid from the bandits and conducted a census where we counted 54 students and we are still searching to see if we can get more.”
One resident who gave his name as Haliru Jangebe, said the local vigilantes had tried to repel the invaders but were overpowered. He added: “The bandits were too many and they all seemed to be carrying heavy arms as we heard gunshots from all parts of the town and when the shots stopped, we heard that the students had been taken away.”