By Stephen Ubanna
Bello Matawallle, governor of Zamfara state, elected on the platform, of the Opposition People’s Democratic, PDP, who may have broken into the rank of the Bandits in the state to be getting an insider information on the kidnap activities in the north had called for’’ all hands must be on deck to deal with the twin problems of Banditry and BokoHaram Insurgency in the north’’.
Based on the information, he may have pieced together from his own findings about the kidnapped 42 persons, made up of 27 students, three teachers and 12 members of their families, in the Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, a school, with a population of about 1000 students, in Niger, home state of former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, on Wdnesday, February,10, 2021, had said that the abductees, are no more within the borders of the north central state of Niger but had relocated to somewhere around Birnin Gwari area in Kaduna state, north west Nigeria.
Many believe that they may have relocated to the north west state, preparatory to cross over to the neighbouring West African country of Niger Republic through the forest and make their financial demands for the release of the students and teachers alive or risk being killed. Aware of the plan of the Bandits may have informed why security has been tightened up in Niger, Kaduna and Katsina states to forestall the kidnappers from going out outside the country with the students and teachers to harass the Authorities for ransom.
Appearing on Channels Television, Sunday Politics Platform, the Zamfara governor who have been having a running battle with the Bandits in his home state and who was said to be instrumental for the release of the 433 kidnapped students of Government Science Secondary School , Kankara, Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, had given his words that ‘’the kidnapped students and teachers would be back home’’.
The Zamfara state governor, who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the key to unlock success in the country’s fight against criminality, particular, in the north is from the people and the security operatives’’. He pointed out that that the leaders , no matter the persuasion must come to terms with the security challenges at hand in different parts of the country and’’ speak with one voice’’.
Past and present Administrations may not have had a leeway in dealing with the Bandits in the north west and insurgency in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe , as the political leaders from the both the ruling All Progressive Congress and the PDP, and other stakeholders have been speaking in different voices on how to tackle the security challenges of the country.
The attack and kidnap of 42 students, teachers and their family members in the Government secondary school Kagara, may have exposed the realities on ground that a lot still need to be done to solve the country’s security challenges as Canada bans its Citizens from travelling to Nigeria to avoid falling into the hands of the kidnappers.
There had been rumour making the rounds that the Authorities are Negotiating with the Criminals to pay the alleged N800 million ransom demanded by them to facilitate the release of the students and teachers. The rumour became pronounced because of the contact that was said to have been made on Friday, February 19, 2021, between the government Representatives at both the state and the Federal levels with the armed Bandits holding the Kagara, Science Secondary School students and teachers.
The alleged contact with the government officials and the armed to reach a Compromise for the release of the kidnapped students and teachers, may have informed why John Onayekan, a Cardinal and former Arch Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, had cautioned the Authorities of ‘’sitting down with the gunmen to discuss on ransom to be paid’’ , noting that that’’ it amounts to giving legitimacy to the Bandits methods of operation’’.
But Lai Mohammed, the minister of Information and Culture, had told those that cares to listen that ‘’the government would never pay any ransom money to the Bandits holding the Kagara students and teachers to secure their release’’. Appearing on Arise Television recently, he had said that the government would ‘’employ kinetic and non-kinetic measures to secure the release of the Kagara kidnapped students and teachers’’.
He had described all the talks about the alleged N800 million ransom that had been paid to the armed Bandits as part of the Conspiracy theories of those who would never see anything god in the presentBuhari Administration , insisting that ‘’the government would never tolerate any form of Criminality in the country’’.
He has assured Nigerians that there was no cause for alarm as the government would stop at nothing to to secure the release of the abductees . Giving an insider information of the government’s plan , he disclosed that the security Operatives are on top of the Kagara Government Science Secondary School in Niger state, situation, but would still keep it ‘’a closely guided secret’’ . The minister had said that the country did not get this level of insecurity overnight , noting that ‘’we can’t get out of it in one day’’.
Despite the ministerial assurance that the government is working assiduously to address the twin problem of Banditry and Insurgency, in the north to stop the frequent , kidnapping in the region and other pats of the country, the Youths in Niger state who could no longer take any excuses from the government for no taking action to facilitate the release of the 42 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, still beheld by the armed Bandits in their Camp had on Saturday, Thursday, February 18, 2021, issued a 48 hour ultimatum to Abubakar Sani Bello, the APC, governor of Niger state , to rescue the 42 persons kidnapped by the armed Bandits in the Kagara Science Secondary School, along the Minna-Zungeru road without further delay.
The aggrieved Youths who had cried out o about the high level of insecurity in the state had accused the state governor of doing little or nothing to tackle the security Challenge as other governors in the other northern states are doing . The Youths may have broken a pitiable story about the security Challenge in a state that had produced scores of retied military Generals and other top military officers, and which had produced two retired army Generals that had ruled the country that ‘’not less than 10 local government areas are either facing kidnapping or banditry of various forms’’, describing it as becoming unbearable and unacceptable’’.
Appealing to the governments, both at state and Federal levels, to face squarely the business of securing the release of the students’’, the Youths whose 48 hours, ultimatum to the Authorities had expired with no sign of the Kagara kidnapped students and teachers likely going to be released anytime soon, fueling speculations that they may be forced to resort to plan B, which is to mobilise the people for protest in the streets of Minna to draw the attention of the International Community to their plight in the state. The state government may have known the implications of going on protest as it may force the students in the other Boarding schools in Minna and its environs to join that that it had closed down all the Boarding schools in the state to avoid total breakdown of law and order.