After a lull in the activities of bandits, the hoodlums have again launched attacks in parts of the country. Residents of Awon in Kaduna State, in this report by SOLOMON ODENIYI and GODWIN ISENYO, explain how eight students of the Government Secondary School Awon in the Kachia Local Government Area were abducted on Monday.
The Kaduna State Government on Tuesday said it received information that eight students of Government Secondary School, Awon in the Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State were kidnapped.
The Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan, in a statement, said the information came from security agencies, adding that details of the incidents were still being awaited.
In the statement issued on Tuesday morning, the commissioner said the number of the kidnapped students was given as 10.
However, in another statement later in the day, Aruwan said the figure was confirmed to be eight.
The earlier statement read: “The Kaduna State Government has received preliminary reports from security agencies on the kidnapping of about 10 students in Kachia LGA.
“According to the preliminary reports, the students of Government Secondary School, Awon (a day secondary school) were kidnapped on Monday.
“The exact location of the incident is yet to be ascertained but detailed reports being awaited will clarify whether the incident occurred within the school premises or elsewhere.
“The government will issue a public statement accordingly when these reports are received.”
In the second statement issued later in the day, the commissioner said, “In an update to the earlier report suggesting the kidnapping of about 10 students in Kachia LGA, the Kaduna State Government has received detailed reports from security agencies on the incident.
“The government can confirm that eight students of the Government Secondary School, Awon in Kachia LGA were kidnapped on Monday in the general area, along with other citizens.
“Furthermore, it was verified that the students were not kidnapped within the school premises, but on their way home from school when they came in contact with the bandits, who had abducted other residents.
“The management of the school has submitted the names and classes of the kidnapped students.”
The statement said Governor Nasir El-Rufai condemned the abduction as unfortunate, “and has received assurances of efforts being exploited to rescue the eight students and other kidnapped citizens.”
Residents told one of our correspondents, who visited the community on Tuesday, that the bandits came on seven motorcycles and shot sporadically into the air.
They said no fewer than 11 students were whisked away, adding that four escaped from the bandits.
Our correspondent observed that both the secondary and primary schools as well as the market in the area were deserted as a result of the incident.
One of the students who escaped from the bandits, Shehu Ishaku, said he and his colleagues ran inside the bush as soon as they spotted the bandits.
The Senior Secondary School 3 student added that he was chased to a bush in a neighbouring village where he was caught but later escaped.
He said, “There is no network in this area, so we were coming from where we went to make a call to one of our uncles when we saw them coming down from their motorcycles with their guns. The motorcycles I saw were about seven. As soon we sighted them, we ran inside the bush, and two motorcycles chased us.
“I was caught at Akwndo village. They were angry and told me they were not joking with me. They told me to lie down and give them my phone. I didn’t; they hit me with the butt of their gun on my neck. I saw blood in my mouth. While I was there, they saw two girls running, so they went for them and caught them. It was then I ran and escaped from them.”
A grandmother of one of the abducted students, who gave her name as Iya Tunde, said his son had been combing the forest in search of his daughter.
The 80-year-old woman said, “My son and his friend have been to the bush in search of them but no effort. I have cried. I pray they release them. We don’t have money; bandits didn’t allow my son to harvest what he planted. My daughter went to school hungry because we had nothing to give her. I am old, I don’t have the strength to bear this. I wish this did not happen to her. “
When our correspondent contacted the police spokesperson, Mohammed Jalige, he promised to get back but he had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Aruwan, disclosed the relaxation of the 24-hour curfew imposed on the Sabon Garin Nasarawa-Tirkaniya community in the Chikun LGA, following the unrest.
Aruwan said the relaxation of the curfew followed “close monitoring and assessment of the situation by security agencies.”
“With effect from tomorrow, Wednesday, 5th April 2023, the curfew will be in place from 7 pm to 7 pm, while residents of the area can go about their activities between 7 am and 7 pm.
“The government advises residents of the community to comply with the curfew and maintain orderly conduct as security agencies continue to work in the affected areas,” Aruwan said.
Besides the attack in Kaduna State, there were reports on Tuesday that bandits unleashed mayhem in at least five states, including Niger, Kaduna, Kogi, Adamawa and Bayelsa, killing scores of people and kidnapping no fewer than 34 people.
In Niger State, seven days after killing seven people and abducting 26 persons, bandits on Sunday evening invaded Mashegu Local Government Area.
During the latest attack, they killed two villagers and kidnapped two policemen and no fewer than 32 villagers.
The bandits were reported to have gone straight to Ibbi Police Station in Mashegu, attacked those on duty and whisked away two of the Policemen.
After sacking the Policemen on duty, the hoodlums were said to have ransacked the armoury in the station and carted away some arms and ammunition.
In Kogi, gunmen on Saturday attacked the Oganenugu community in the Dekina LGA and killed scores of villagers.
The gunmen were reported to have entered the village in the night and started shooting at everyone in sight.
The ward chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Mr James Adah, was among those shot dead.
Describing the attacks as “vile and satanic” the state Governor, Yahaya Bello, said they were a “calculated assault on the peace-loving people of Oganenugu who had enjoyed relative peace and security.”
The governor said his administration would continue to phase out crisis entrepreneurs from the state and ensure that those involved shall be brought to book under the laws.
He described the attacks were shocking, adding, “government will never bow to the machinations of heartless elements in its resolves to rid the state of criminals.”
In Bayelsa, suspected assassins reportedly killed a construction worker and dumped his corpse along Gloryland Drive on the outskirts of Yenagoa, the state capital.