Bandits terrorising the North-west of the country were at the height of their criminal enterprise on Wednesday night, attacking Government Girls Secondary School, Moriki in Zuru Local Government Area (LGA) of Zamfara State, where they kidnapped six persons, including students and teachers.
BBC Hausa Service quoted the resident of the area as saying that the attack took place while some residents were watching the Champions League match between Liverpool Football Club of England and Barcelona Football Club of Spain.
The news of the attack broke just as the House of Representatives resolved to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to come and explain how he is tackling the escalating banditry in the country.
Buhari also came under attack from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which Thursday held him responsible for the worsening state of insecurity in the land, saying the president was loitering around the United Kingdom while the nation was under the siege of gun-wielding criminals.
A witness that saw the Zamfara attack said the attackers opened fire on the school, killing one man, and abducting two teachers and four nursing students.
He, however, said the bandits could not gain access to the dormitory, where majority of the students were sleeping.
The spokesperson of the Zamfara State Police Command, Mr. Mohammed Shehu, yesterday confirmed the attack, saying it was carried out by an unidentified number of armed men, who entered through the back fence of the school with intent to abduct students.
He, however, claimed that no student was abducted but admitted that five people were missing.
According to him, the attackers were confronted and stopped from gaining access to the students’ hostels by a combined team of PMF/CTU and Civilian JTF personnel, forcing the gunmen to retreat into the bush.
He revealed that two caterers and three of their children were later discovered to be missing.
He said: “The police is collaborating with the school authority to establish the whereabouts of the missing persons. To this end, a search and rescue operation team has been dispatched to the surrounding bushes for an extensive bush combing.
“Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the school and its environment to forestall further happening.”
Shehu appealed to members of the public to be very vigilant and report any suspicious character to the police for prompt response.
There has been an escalation of banditry and kidnapping in the North-west states of Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna.
The Chairman of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Mr. Muhammed Mahmood, and his daughter and several travellers were kidnapped along the Abuja-Kaduna Road, a couple of days ago.
Mahmood and his daughter were released on Tuesday but it was not clear whether a ransom was paid to secure their release.
Meanwhile, a journalist with a strong links to the leaders of Boko Haram insurgents, Mr. Ahmad Salkida, has raised the alarm that some Boko Haram factions, as well as members of the Islamic State in the West African Province (ISWAP), were gradually infiltrating the North-west.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Salkida said: “Zamfara in the last 7 days, like the week before it, reveals how the military and the armed groups are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game. Human life remains short and brutish, as about 100 people were abducted and over 30 killed in the past week alone.”
On that same Tuesday, bandits attacked Gobirawa and Sabawa villages in Safana LGA of Katsina State, killing 10 people and rustling an unspecified number of cattle.
On Wednesday, gunmen attacked Daura, Buhari’s hometown in Katsina State, and abducted the district head of the town, Alhaji Musa Umar, who is also the father-in-law to Buhari’s Aide de Camp (ADC).
House Resolves to Summon Buhari
In the meantime, the House of Representatives has resolved to invite the president to appear before it to explain the measures he is taking to curb the growing rate of insecurity in Nigeria.
The resolution followed an amendment to a motion of urgent national importance by Hon. Dayyabu Safana, urging lawmakers to propose to the Buhari-led federal government to impose state of emergency in Safana/Batsari/Dan-Musa Federal Constituency, Katsina State as a way to curb armed banditry.
In his motion titled: ‘Urgent Need for Federal Government’s Intervention on the Ongoing Wanton Killing of Innocent Persons, Destruction of Properties, Armed Robbery and Kidnapping by Heavily Armed Bandits Operating within Safana I Batsari/Dan Musa Federal Constituency of Katsina State, Safana had harped on the need for actions that would quickly end the massive killings in the area.
According to Safana, “The recent spate of attacks on members of my constituency has reached an alarming stage as the perpetrators of this dastardly act continuously kill innocent persons in my constituency and set their homes ablaze while defenceless men and women are abducted to an unknown destination.
“Up to four villages within my constituency are currently under attack in the last 48 hours namely, Kasai Village in Batsari L.G.A, where no fewer than five persons have been killed; Alhazawa village in Safana L.G.A had been totally displaced; Guzurawa village in Safana L.G.A also had several persons murdered in cold blood; and just Thursday, Gobirawa village came under attack with no fewer than 12 bodies littered in the bush while many are still missing.
“These killings have continued unabated and these bandits seem to be unstoppable with a specific instance at Gobirawa village in Safana L.G.A where the bereaved villagers were forced to abandon the corpses during the burial and scampered for safety when they sighted the bandits coming back to lunch another offensive.”
After debating the motion, the House considered his call to the federal government to deploy the military to the areas under attack to assist the police and other security agencies in flushing out the criminal elements operating in the constituency.
It also urged the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to urgently provide relief materials to the victims of the attacks in line with Section 60 of NEMA Act.
The lawmakers condemned the ongoing attacks on various communities within Safana/Batsari/Dan Musa Federal Constituency of Katsina State and other parts of Nigeria by heavily armed bandits on virtually daily basis.
PDP Blames President for Escalation of Banditry
Reacting to the worsening insecurity in the country, the PDP accused the president of paying limited attention to the escalation of insecurity in the country, saying this has emboldened insurgents and bandits to continue to over-run communities, unleash mayhem and bloodletting on citizens in Borno, Zamfara, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe Taraba, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi and other states of the federation.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday, called on Buhari to immediately return home and use the remaining part of his first tenure to seek help instead of wandering abroad under the guise of private visits to the UK.
He stated: “President Buhari’s inattention has emboldened insurgents and bandits to continue to over-run communities, unleash mayhem and bloodletting on citizens in Borno, Zamfara, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe Taraba, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi and other states of the federation, including Mr. President’s home state, Katsina.
“While President Buhari wanders abroad, bandits are having a field day, pillaging communities in Katsina State; killing several persons and abducting the District Head of his hometown, Daura, Musa Umar; the father in-law of Mr. President’s security aide.”
Ologbondiyan noted that within this period, marauders invaded communities in Adamawa and killed no fewer than 26 innocent Nigerians; many more had been killed in Borno, Taraba, Benue and Zamfara States.
The main opposition party described as completely unacceptable for Buhari to practically abandon his responsibilities, as the Commander-In-Chief, ‘at least for now,’ to pursue unexplained private matters in foreign lands, while bandits, marauders and insurgents seize the nation; maim, kidnap and kill citizens with reckless abandon.
According to him, “While the Buhari administration remains virtually nonchalant, kidnappers have taken over many of our major highways, with hundreds of compatriots held in captivity in forests along Kaduna-Abuja, Taraba-Katsina-Ala and other highways in the country.”
The PDP spokesman added that it was clear that the president had not demonstrated required capacity to control the insecurity situation and now resorts to cheap escapism, particularly in the face of allegations in the public space that certain individuals around his administration are benefitting from the situation.
Ologbondiyan said Buhari has completely failed the nation, stressing that his dereliction to duty is a clear signal that he has been practically overwhelmed, deflated and has nothing to offer.
He noted that the situation in Nigeria today signposts the terrible condition the country will face if the presidential mandate is not retrieved at the tribunal to enable competent and uncompromised hands to run the affairs of the country.
He said there are allegations that some of the bandits arrested, in states such as Katsina, are not Nigerians but aliens allegedly “imported by the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Niger Republic to assist it in unleashing violence and rigging the 2019 general election.”