Charles Nwoke, Katsina, Nigeria
December 18, 2020
Aminu Bello Masari, the Katsina State Governor on Thursday, confirmed the release of 340 students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) Kankara, who were abducted by unknown gunmen suspected to be bandits and terrorist agents one week ago.
Governor Masari, in an exclusive interview relayed during a 9 PM Network News of the Nigeria Television Network (NTA), disclosed that the students formerly held hostage in Zamfara State forest were set free after negotiations with their captors. He revealed that the children were on their way to Katsina on Thursday night as he was speaking with Nigerians on the security situation.
According to the Chief Security Officer of the State, it was agreed that troops should desist from the use of force to rescue the students to avert casualties and catastrophic incidents from happening.
Abdul Labaran, the Governor’s Media Director in a phone interview, also testified to Governor Masari’s claim over the abducted students.
In his words, the Governor’s Media Director, said, “Yes, the students have been released by their abductors. 340 of them are currently being transported from Zamfara forest to Katsina State Government House this night (Thursday).”
However, the governor’s media aide was silent on whether the Katsina State Government paid the ransom to secure the release of the science schoolboys or not.
Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Bello Masari is expected to address a world press conference as soon as the freed students arrive at Katsina State Government House.
In another development, a coalition of northern groups, yesterday, vowed to mobilize communities in the region for self-defense against the high insecurity rate bedeviling them.
The non-governmental organization, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), made the declaration at a protest it held in Katsina to demand the rescue of over 300 students of Kankara Science Secondary School from kidnappers.
The group, during the protest, disclosed that insecurity in the country had degenerated under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari beyond the levels ever imagined. National Coordinator of the coalition, Balarabe Rufai, who made the declaration at a press conference to commemorate the protest, also accused Buhari of reneging on the obligation he made at Chatham House, London in 2015, that he would tackle insecurity head-on across the country. He accused the government of being “helpless, incompetent, incapable or unwilling” to rescue the more than 300 students kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Kankara Science School.
The Coordinator also alleged that some powerful politicians in Buhari’s government were unwilling to see the end of security challenges tormenting the country, probably because it served their selfish interests.
Another sore point in the administration’s record, according to the CNG, is the resort to incessant suppression of peaceful protests by the Buhari led government.
He stated, President Buhari and his government, “are apparently helpless,” arguing that the audacity with which the over 300 schoolchildren were abducted while the President was in Katsina, confirmed fears that the government had completely lost the prerogative of providing security and therefore no longer reliable for the discharge of its responsibilities.
“President Buhari has ultimately reneged on the pledge he made in Chatham House, London in 2015, to tackle insecurity head-on across the country, including paying special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service and giving them modern arms and ammunition to work with,” he said.
“The security challenges in the country, particularly in the North, which faces complete human, economic, and educational emasculation, have escalated beyond the former state of affairs before the coming of the Buhari administration in 2015.”
The group Coordinator while he announced the group’s plan to “mobilize communities for coordinated self-protection,” he called for mass and prolonged #BringgBackOurBoys campaign “in solidarity with the deprived parents of the kidnapped Katsina students across all the northern region.”
For the fact that security agents frustrated the rally, the group staged “a short symbolic protest” within the premises of the conference venue. They sang anti-insecurity songs and displayed Bringbackourboys placards and aired their grievances before newsmen.
It was gathered the protest was restricted to the venue of the press conference following meetings security operatives had with the coalition. The group was dissuaded from holding public protests by painting a grim picture of the likely outcome.
The Coalition who had planned to stage the protest within the Katsina metropolis, before marching to Daura, presented a letter to the state government, explaining their displeasure at the security situation, especially the kidnap of the over 300 students in the state.
Receiving the letter on behalf of Governor Aminu Masari, Ibrahim Katsina, his Special Adviser on Security, revealed that more security agents had been beefed up to rescue kidnapped students.