By Suleiman Umaru
Usman Kankara Bello, a retired Comptroller of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, with the traditional title of the Kanwa Katsina and the district Head of Ketare one of the districts ,in Kankara , local government area of Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, is not a happy man.
This is because of the frequent attacks on the Communities under the two districts of the Kankara local government area by Bandits, described as ‘’cowards by the Katsina state born Nigerian President. There are two districts that made up the Kankara local government: Kankara and Ketare. The most recent of such bandit attacks in the local government was on Friday, December 11, 2020 at Kankara district.
The armed bandits who may have taken advantage of the Nigerian President one week private visit to Daura, his home town , may have attacked a Government Science Secondary School in Kankara district, perhaps to throw the whole state into confusion and make the President’s stay in Daura uncomfortable in order to force him cut the his private visit to his home town, short and return back to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, where he is saddled with state responsibilites.
Kakara, which is is about 125 miles to Daura town had been under constant bandit attacks in the recent time. The attack on the Kankara science secondary may have encouraged Bello, the district head of Ketare, of the two districts in the local government to mobilise the village Heads under him to tighten up security in his district through improved Community vigilance to ascertain the movement of people in and out of the district and report suspicious persons to the police for close monitoring.
The attack on the Kankara science secondary school, according to residents is coming on the heels of the Wednesday, December 9, 2020, attack by the bandits in various Communities in the local government and Danmusa, another local government area where they were said to have killed 16 persons. The successful attack in in various Communities in the two flashpoint local government areas in the state may have given the bandits the audacity to attack the Kankara science secondary school where they could easily kidnap defenseless students and use them as thir bargaining power to ask for ransomed from the government.
There are indications that scores of students were abducted during the attack but some of the students on their own volition may have ran out from their hostel out of fear to the neighbourhood for safety. Gambo Isa, the Katsina state Police Command spokesperson reportedly said that ‘’ they were working with the Army and the Air Force personnel to determine how many of the students were kidnapped by the bandits or missing and to find them’’.
But the good news, according the state Police Command spokesperson was that the 200 students who may have ran out for their safety in the neighbourhood were said to have been found by the Kankara Divisional Police Officer, DPO, in the area and taken back to the school to continue their studies.
The Value News learnt that the headcount in the government Science boarding school, Kankara, on Saturday, December, 12, 2020, shows that 54 students were missing but Bello Marsari,a former Speaker of House of Representatives and no governor of the state had said it would be very difficult to ascertain the number of students of the Kankara science secondary school that were kidnapped by the bandits for now.
The Magazine was informed that 884 students were in the school premises at the time the bandits struck. The bandits were said to have stormed the school with AK 47 rifles which may have made it difficult for the policemen who were stationed at the school to stop them from carrying out their operation in the school.
Eyewitness account said there was exchange of fire between the bandits and the policemen but were overpowered with the superior fire power of the bandits as one of the policemen was hit by the bandits bullet. He was quickly taken to the hospital by Colleagues , for treatment to avoid endangering his life due to loss of blood. The courageous policemen were said to have also killed one of the bandits.
The attack on the Kankara Science Secondary school by the gunmen, may have informed why Masari, the state governor had ordered’’ the immediate closure of all boarding secondary schools’’ to avoid giving room to the bandits to target another secondary school for attack.
Masari, who is pained by the attack on the Kankara innocent science secondary school students by the armed bandits , in a bid to calm frayed nerves in the state was said to have met with some of the parents of the students, traditional rulers, religious leaders and security officials at the school, promising that’’ the government will do everything within its capacity to ensure that all the kidnapped students will return safely to the school’’.
Garba Shehu, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, may have given a cheering news to Nigerians when he said that the military has located the hide out of the bandits at Zango/Paula forest at the Kankara local government area. He disclosed that the military are in the process of retrieving the abducted students amidst exchange of fire with the bandits in the operation but no student casualty had been recorded.
The Presidential spokesperson had said that going by the latest brief from Masari , the state governor, and Yusuf Buratai, a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff, to the Nigerian President, the Army supported by air power provided by Abubakar Sadique, an Air Vice Marshall and Chief of Air staff’s men facilitated the location of the hide out of the bandits in the Zankara forest.
The Nigerian President who is worried that the bandits are now targeting boarding schools in the state for attack was said to have directed the reinforcement of all public schools in line with ‘’the safe schools policy of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC , government’ ’in the country.
Acting on the Presidential directive, Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, was said to have deployed more policemen to Katsina state to support the ongoing search and rescue operations for the abducted students. The additional policemen sent to the President’s home state were said to have been drawn from the Police Tactical Squads and Crack detectives from the Force Intelligence Bureau.
Frank Mba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and the Force spokesperson , said they have a mandate to work closely with the military and other security agencies personnel in the state in a Coordinated efforts’’ aimed at rescuing the abducted students, hunting down the operators and bringing to book’’.
Recall that Buhari, the Nigerian President had been invited by the Femi Gbajabiamila led House of Representatives to brief them on the security situation of the country last week but it was said to have been cancelled by him without any official explanation. Prior to the cancellation of the visit, he was said to have agreed to appear before the Lawmakers to address the security situation of the country. That much was confirmed by Gbajabiamila, the House Speaker after a private meeting with the President at the Villa to convey the resolution of the House and to fix a date that he would appear before the House members.
The President may have gone back on his words to appear before the Hose members because of the advice from legal experts in the party and his government, including Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General and minister of Justice.
One of them,Daniel Bwala, a Lawyer and Chieftain of the ruling APC, whose views are well respected in the party circles , appearing as a guest of the Arise Television, programme, on Thursday, December 10, 2020, the very day, the President was expected to appear in the House had said that’’ the National Assembly cannot summon the President, stressing that the power to summon as provided in the 1999 Constitution as amended , ‘’is power to investigate , interrogate and power to probe Corruption’’, insisting that ‘’it is not within the power of the National Assembly to do so’’.
The APC, Chieftain, who could not hide his feelings had said that the House of Representatives, going by the Constitution , do not have the legal right to summon the President but they have the Constitutional right to invite the President ‘’in the spirit of de Corps to come and address the nation on matters of national security’’. The argument in political circles was that he may have cancelled appearing before the house members to avoid divulging official national security matters, which Bwala, had said was baseless.
This may have informed why many believed that the President had cancelled appearing before the House members but proceeded to Daura, his home town on a one-week private visit which was characterized by Bandit atatcks in various Communities in two local government areas in the state including attack on a science secondary schooks in Kankara, resulting in the kidnap of scores of students, who the military and policemen are still struggling to rescue.
It is instructive to note that before the bandits finally turned their weapon on Kankara local government, Communities in Batsari local government were the most attacked by thebandits. Many believe that the bandits could easily cross over from the neighbouring Benin Republic, through the forest into the north west state border local government Forests, which they use as a base to their attacks . This is where the Nigerian Preident may have to work on Mohammadou Issoufou, President of Niger and the outgoing Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of Economic Community of West African states, ECOWAS, to ensure that the security pact with the country was strictly enforced to curtail the activities of the bandits.