In what appears to be an encore of the abduction of 42 individusls, including 27 students, three staff and 12 members of their families from the government Science College, Kagara, Rafi local government area of Niger state, bandits again raided another school in the same council. This time however, the bandits are said to have swooped on Salihu Tanko Islamic school, Tegina, where they carted away school children whose number is said to be between 150 and 200, excluding an unspecified number of passenger traveling to Minna, the state capital.
The gunmen who allegedly rode into Tegina in a convoy of motorbikes, shot indiscriminately as a result of which stray bullets hit several individuals, one of whom died on the spot. Thereafter, they abducted the children and melted into thin air as they came, seemingly. However, about 11 of the abducted children were later left behind by the bandits ostensibly because they could not muster the strength for the tedious journey into the criminals’ hideout in the forest.
Reacting to the incident, the state governor expressed his concerns over what he described as the “…escalating level of banditry in the state.” He also called on the federal government to quickly intervene in order to free the state from the vice-like grips of the vicious criminals.
The governor who appealed for calm, reiterated his administration’s commitment to the protection of lives of property. He noted that a task force is already in place to help track the bandits.
But the governor’s assurances is coming a little to late. That is, if the people’s reaction to the incident is anything to go by. Those who spoke with 2n-nework disclosed that ndicates that indeed, it is one abduction too many particularly given the manner bandits seem to be focusing on school children. Indeed, with the Tegina abduction, which came barely 24 hours after 14 students from Greenfield University, Kaduna, were released after spending 40 days in captivity, bandits have kidnapped over 700 children from schools in northern states. The frequency is such that the phenomenon is fast becoming more of a big industry with huge incentives.
2n-nework investigation revealed that the build-up to the Tegina Islamic school raid began some 24 hours earlier. According to multiple sources, the bandits were sited approaching Tashan Ushiba and Tungan onward Makeri on Friday night. However, they allegedly stopped over in Zungeru where they mounted a road block at the bridge forcing travellers shuttling between Kagara, Kontagora and Minna to either abort the journey or sleep over at Zungeru.
While still in Zungeru, the bandits allegedly raided nearby settlements where they are said to have rustled cows, goats, ram and stole food items without any intervention by security forces even though about a dozen soldiers are domiciled in an old African Frontier Force outpost about a few kilometres away.
On Friday, they swooped on the Tegina Islamic school, shooting indiscriminately
and abducted as many children as were available. Though 2n-nework could not verify the exact number of children that were taken away by the bandits, the number, excluding certain Minna bound travellers and some other people who were unlucky enough to be at a wrong place at the wrong time, is said to be between 150 and 200 school children.
2n-nework reliably gathered that bandits that attacked Tegina are neither an itinerary nor a fortuitous band of criminals. Informed sources say they have camps in Rima and Durumi forest, east of Pandogari and Kagara in Rafi local government area of the state. This perhaps goes on to confirm the statement made by the state governor that Boko Haram has camps in locations within the state.
According to local sources however, bandits have been there for well over three years without any interruption from security agents. The reason, according to sources that prefer anonymity, is that locals are afraid of giving information about them to security agents for fear of reprisal attack as was the recent case in Shikaan and several other communities in Katsina Ala local government area of Benue state where over 50 people were slaughtered barely four days ago by alleged loyalists of the late Terwase Akwaza, aka, Gana.