By Stephen Ubanna
The Abduction of 344 students of Government science secondary school of Kankara, Katsina state, which the Opposition People’s Democratic Party , PDP, are waiting to use in their Political Campaign in the 2023, general elections appeared to have boosted the political profile of President Muhammadu Buhari , who incidentally is a retired army General.
Until Monday, December 14, 2020, people were still throwing stones on the Katsina state born Nigerian President over his refusal to visit the site at Kankara town, where the 344 students were abducted by Bandits despite holidaying in Daura , his home town.
Unknown to the critics, the retired army General has given a marching order to Gabriel Olonisakin, an Army General and Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, the service Chiefs as well as the Head of the other security agencies in the country to rescue the students now that he is in the state.
Gen.Olonisakin, the CDS, Yusuf Buratai a Lt. General and Chief of Army Staff and Sadique Abubakar, an Air Marshall and Chief of Air Staff , may have taken it as an opportunity to prove that the military has the capacity to protect life and property in this country.
Between Friday December 11, 2020, that the students were kidnapped and December 18, when they were released from the forest, the military Authorities were said to have been working on different plans on how to rescue the students having located the hide out of the Bandits in the forest . The plans were said to have been a closely guided secret.
As a prelude to rescuing the Kankara students, the Abubakar led air force were said to have provided air support to the Buratai ground troops and Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, well trained Tactical Squad personnel and Crack detectives, to prevent the abductors from crossing over to the West African country of Niger with the students, which may make the rescue operation difficult.
The Abubakar led air force were said ’’to have provided air assets including Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance , ISR, aircraft to Katsina state , hours after the students were abducted’’. The additional assets were said to have been deployed on Saturday, December 12, 2020, to provide persistent surveillance over the identified areas of interest within Katsina and the neighbouring Zamfara state.
It is instructive to note that while this was ongoing, the air force personnel ‘’ maintained offensive air presence in the two states’’of crossing over to Niger , to forestall the abductors from carrying out their intended action with the students.
This may have informed why the Abductors, who call themselves members of the Islamic Fundamentalist Group BokoHaram or Bandits could not have their way of crossing over to Niger for fear that the game is up had to bow to pressure and release the students without doing anything funny and run for their life to avoid playing into the hands of the Nigerian security Operatives.
The Magazine was informed that ‘’as soon as the Kankara students regained their Freedom, they were taken to the Government House , Katsina, escorted by a combined team of the various security agencies personnel that had participated in the search and rescue operations of the students with air cover provided by the Air Force personnel deployed for intelligence gathering, air surveillance and Reconnaissance to prevent any intruder from launching any attack They were said to have been received by Aminu Masari, the state governor.
Informed sources told The Magazine that the NAF, Special Forces, particular, the Medical personnel, provided immediate care for the students who were said to have drastically lost weight because of the shabby treatment received from the abductors within the five days they were in their forced detention in their hideout after their rescue from the forest.
There are indications that the abducted students may have been moved from Kankara forestt, in Katsina state to the neighbouring north west o state of Zamfara, forest , preparatory to cross over to Niger but luck ran out of them.
Recall that the initial reports making the rounds was that’’ it was the troops of Operation Hadarin, Daji’’, a military Operation in the north west, that rescued the abducted Kankara students in the forest. Perhaps, acting on the report from the army, John Eneche, an Army Major General and Coordinator of Media Operations at the Defense Headquarters, DHQ, had said on Friday, December, 18, 2020, after the students regained their Freedom , confirmed that 344 students were rescued as by the troop of the Operation Hadarin Daji as against the initial 333 students being rumoured. The DHQ, spokesperson, had said that the rescue operation was conducted by the Operation Hadarin Daji Troop, in line with the promise of the armed Forces to ensure that all students from the Nigerian President home state are rescued.
Given an insider information, he had said ‘’they were rescued following credible intelligence received by the troops who carried out the operation with a high degree of Profesionalism’’. The army Major General and DHQ, Coordinator of Media Operations, may have known that other security agencies who had played significant role to facilitate the elrelease of the Kankara students, particular NAF personnel may not be happy f that he was forced to change his language. The military Authorities commended the troops and personnel of other security agencies involved in the Operation , as well as the civilians who provided the information that led the success recorded’’, he had said.
He had singled out the Masari led APC, government of Katsina state and Bello Matawalle , led PDP government of Zamfara state and friends of Nigeria, who were said to have helped to facilitate the release of the 344 abducted Kankara students from the forest.
Given what happened when the 276 Chibok girls in Borno state were kidnapped in 2014 and the abduction of Dapchi girls in Yobe state, north east Nigeria, where the military Authorities had appeared reluctant to intervene to rescue the girls may have informed why the Opposition PDP, had accused the ruling APC, ‘’of being in league with the Bandits and the terrorists ravaging the country’’
. Kola Ologbodiyan, spokesperson of the PDP, a party that believes that it will regain its lost power in the forthcoming 2023 general elections, had alleged that the APC, has been acting over the years as ‘’the mouthpiece of bandits and terrorists, rationalizing killings and kidnapping by showing sympathy to the groups’’.
He had alluded to the fact that the ruling APC, has refused to condemn the acts of terrorism and banditry in the country but attacks any perceived person or group that ‘’dare to criticise the activities of the terrorists and Bandits or demand the unconditional release of abductees’’.
Security experts may not agree with the PDP spokesperson claims, insisting that the security challenges currently faced by the Buhari led APC , government were inherited from the PDP government, which the Katsina state born Nigerian President had consistently described as’’ 16 years of PDP misrule’’.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan who may have realised his short comings for the over five years , he was in government: completing the tenure of late President Umaru Yara ‘dua , who died in 2010, in his capacity as the then Vice President and subsequently been re-elected I 2011, general elections to effectively tackle the country’s security challenge. This may have informed why he has urged Nigerians ’’to support the Buhari government’s fight against insecurity in the country to defeat the menace’’.
He was said to have made his feelings known at the last Command Performance by the Commonwealth Community Choir in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. The former President had told those cares to listen that ‘’insecurity is a global phenomenon that was not peculiar to Nigeria due to the excesses of terrorists and Bandits across the world.
Shehu Sani , an activist and a one-time Senator, Federal Republic of Nigeria, who is not happy over the attack on innocent students of Kankara science school, in the President home state has called for ‘’the abolition of boarding schools’’ in the rural areas of the seven states in the north west geo-political region which include Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Kano and Jigawa as a way to protect schools .
He was said to have also advised that ’’students and teachers in schools in the region should be properly trained on what to do and how to attend to emergency security situations when such arise’’, like the Kankara science school incident. The activist also believes that the establishment of a special security unit for schools in the north ‘’ will go a long way in ensuring the security of students and their teachers’’.
He was said to have also suggested that ’’perimeter walls should be built around the schools and the installation of Close Circuit Television, CCTV,, Cameras and alarm system’’ should be encouraged. Good suggestions, but the lean financial situation of the states in the north may make the actualisation of these projects in the schools in the north very difficult .
Meanwhile, the Nigerian President who could not hide his feelings over the release of the 344 abducted Kakara students has urged the students when he met with them at the Banquet Hall of the Government House, Katsina, has urged them ‘’to return back to school’’ and be more focused. He had told the Kankara students ‘’to see the unfortunate incident as a test of character and a determination to succeed in life’’. Appealing to those that may want to drop out of school because of the kidnap experience to shelve the idea, stressing that ‘ the ’reward for knowledge was not negotiable’’.
Buhari, who would never miss any given opportunity to shine had told the Kakara students that he schooled in Katsina for nine years, , moved on to join the army, served as a military governor, and also as a Head of state.
He may have shocked the students when he said ‘’I went to prison’’. Perhaps, the prison experience may have prepared his mind to join politics in 199. Hear him, ‘’I contested the country’s Presidential elections for three consecutive times and lost but was declared a winner in the fourth attempt in the 2015 general elections and subsequently re-elected in 2019. He may have gone down the memory lane as a way of encouraging the disillusioned students.
The good news was that the Nigerian President who might have learnt a lesson from the Kankara science school incident has given his words that ‘’the government would upgrade the security structure in the country to ensure more safety of the people’’.Yemi Osinbajo, a Professor of Law and Nigerian Vice President may have alluded to this recently when he reiterated the Buhari Administration’s commitment ‘’to protecting lives and property of all Nigerians’’.
In a related development, garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant,SSA, to The President on Media and Publicity who may have realiSed that he goofed when he told the BBC, Correspondent in Nigeria, when news of the Kidnapped Kankara students broke out that only 10 students were abducted. He was forced to apologise for the misinformation when state government government came out with reports that 333 students were missing.
I apologise to Nigerians for ’’ the incorrect Comunication citing that only 10 students were kidnapped at the science school of,Kankara’’, he had tweeted. He may have corrected the misinformation when he further tweeted that 333 students being kidnapped in the school.
The DHQ, may have released the actual figure of Kankara students abducted by the Bandits on Friday, December 18, 2020, after the abductees regained their freedom, putting at 344 students.