Omololu Ogunmade, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna, ThisdayLive
President Muhammadu Buhari was put on the spot yesterday as leaders of opinion, including Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III, expressed deep concerns about the worsening security situation in the country.
While Soyinka said the abduction of students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State at the time Buhari was in neighbouring Daura on a private visit to the state was a dirty slap across the president’s face, the sultan lamented that insecurity is worsening across the nation.
The two weighty comments came as the presidency reported progress on efforts to rescue the schoolchildren, saying their abductors had made contact with the state government that had begun talks with them.
Although various numbers of the abductees were being bandied about, Governor Aminu Masari said on Sunday that 333 pupils, out of the 839 student population as of the time of the incident, were yet to be accounted for.
The governor travelled to Daura yesterday to update the president on the rescue efforts.
However, within two days of the kidnapping of the pupils, another set of gunmen struck at two communities of Ogu and Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State, abducting 19 people. A clergyman was also reportedly killed.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said Masari told Buhari that steady progress was being made to rescue the pupils unharmed.
The statement quoted Masari as saying: “We are making progress and the outlook is positive,” after holding an hour meeting with Buhari.
The statement said the governor, who was accompanied by his deputy, Mr. Manir Yakubu, added that aside establishing contact, discussions with the kidnappers centred on the safe return of the pupils to their various homes.
It quoted Masari as saying that security agencies had located the position of the children.
The governor told journalists after the meeting that the president was fully committed to rescuing the schoolchildren, adding that he visited Buhari and gave him more details of the rescue efforts.
We’re Fed up with Worsening Insecurity, Laments Sultan
The Sultan of Sokoto and Co-Chairman of National Council of Traditional Rulers, Sa’ad Abubakar, yesterday expressed fresh concerns about the worsening insecurity in the country, saying they’re fed up.
Abubakar, who led monarchs to Maiduguri, to commiserate with the government and people of Borno State on the killing of about 78 rice farmers in Zabarmari two weeks ago, also urged the military to occupy Sambisa Forest and Lake Chad region housing Boko Haram insurgents.
He lamented that insecurity is getting worse in the country.
The sultan explained that they were in Maiduguri not only to commiserate with the governor but to make a strong statement on the insecurity in the country.
He said: “It is not just a condolence visit; it is a statement that all of us are fed up with the shedding of innocent blood under whatever guise across this country. So many lives have been lost in the past; we can’t even compute how many lives we have lost. It becomes like a daily occurrence, a daily event, a new normal. It becomes a story when in a day nobody was killed in a particular place of this country.
“We had at various fora with our political leaders, mentioned these things on how to take care of our security in various communities. We have written papers; sent our governors. We have discussed with all our leaders, all the way forward.
“But we see things getting worse and worse. It used to be Boko Haram alone in Borno and Yobe; now, in all over the North, in particular and generally all over the country. You have bandits and terrorists all over the North. You can’t even move freely in the South; it is the same thing. The killings have taken new dimensions and we really don’t know what are the causes of these mass killings of innocent people.
“We decided to come together as the council of traditional rulers to make this statement to all and sundry, not only to the governor of Borno State, but to all our governors. Let’s rise up to the occasion and see how we can come together to fight this menace of shedding innocent people’s blood.”
Governor Babagana Zulum thanked the monarchs for the visit.
He decried the continuous dependence on donations to feed the internally displaced persons as the main source of livelihood.
Also yesterday, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the umbrella body for Muslims, led by the sultan, again expressed concern about the seeming inability of the federal government and security agencies to address the security challenges in the country.
Reacting to the abduction of the Katsina pupils, JNI, in a statement, wondered whether the federal government and security agencies have been overwhelmed by the bandits terrorising Nigerians.
The statement signed by JNI Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, said the abduction of the students “in commando-style is one tragedy too many coming on the heels of the infamous Zabarmari massacre just not long ago.”
It added: “This indeed is a sad reminder of the abductions of schoolgirls in Chibok and Dapchi of Borno and Yobe States of North-east Nigeria, and it’s an indicator that the powers that be don’t read the present through the spectacle of the past; this wouldn’t have happened.
“The Kankara abduction was so belligerently orchestrated that it happened the day Mr. President arrives Katsina State on a private visit.
“Are the bandits this bold as to further test the resolve of the government or smite the face of the Commander-in-Chief by bringing it up to his doorstep in his presence?”
According to the organisation, the pupils’ abduction lent credence to the claim that “the bandits rule in many communities and do as they wish with impunity.”
It expressed concern that the abduction could frustrate school enrolment in the North as parents would be scared to put their children in school.
The JNI commiserated with the families of the abducted students and wished them safe and immediate reunion with their respective children.
Katsina Schoolboys’ Abduction Slap on Buhari’s Face, says Soyinka
Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka has lamented the spate of insecurity in the country, saying it is an indication that Buhari is not in charge of his government.
He said the recent “abduction once again of the nation’s children” in “Buhari’s terrain” is “a slap across the face of the Commander-in-Chief.”
Soyinka, in a statement yesterday, titled: “INFRADIG–A Presidential Comeuppance,” added that when the president was summoned by the National Assembly to appear before it amid the rising insecurity in the country, he didn’t initially consider the summon as below the standard of behaviour.
He stated that the president considered the invitation as a polite invitation to preserve the “tattered remains of his ‘Born-Again’ democratic camouflage.”
He said: “That, to come to the present, constituted Buhari’s response to the National Assembly’s invitation to drop in for a chat. He did not consider it infradig at the beginning. He responded to the polite invitation to rub minds urgently over a people’s security anxieties as one who still struggled to preserve the tattered remains of his ‘Born-Again’ democratic camouflage.
“However, his reversal of consent raised yet again the frightening situation report I have fervently posed: Buhari is not in charge. Whoever is, that segment of the cabalistic control obviously cornered him on the way to the lawmakers’ chambers and urged: Don’t! Their invitation is infradig! He succumbed.
“Beneath the dignity of a Commander-in-Chief! Well. The opportunistic homicidal respondents -Bandits/Boko Haram or whoever – thereupon picked up the gauntlet and provided a response in their own language: abduction once again of the nation’s children. They handed him a slap across the face, on his home terrain, taunting: See if that is more suited to your dignity,” he said.
He explained that he joined other people in using the word “Infra dignitatem” to any situation indicating assailing his dignity or statement unworthy of response.
Hoodlums Disrupt Security Summit in Kaduna
A meeting of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) to discuss the security challenges in the North was disrupted by armed thugs who yesterday invaded the venue in Kaduna.
The hoodlums were said to have attacked guests at the summit smashed some vehicles, shattered windows and overturned chairs. Some people sustained injuries in the ensuing melee.
Confirming the attack in a statement, spokesman of the
CNG, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said armed thugs, numbering hundreds, and unleashed terror on guests who attended the summit.
He said the summit was aimed at “discussing ways to achieve synergy between communities and government security and design a uniform approach to the current security situation in the North.”
According to him, participants at the meeting included retired military and police officers, religious leaders, traditional rulers and various women, youth and trade associations.
“Just as the meeting was kicking off, sponsored armed thugs stormed the auditorium after subduing the civil guards at the gate.
“The overturned tables shattered glasses, attacked the guests and officials, wounding several people and smashing vehicles parked in the premises,” the statement said.
Reacting to the incident, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) described it as an attempt to stifle national outrage over increasingly deteriorating security in the country
The forum, in a statement by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, also described the attack as cowardly.
According to the group, whoever was behind the attack needs to know that more meetings will continue to be held all over Nigeria to demand that those with the responsibility to secure the country do so.
Bandits Kidnap 19 in Niger
No fewer than 19 people were kidnapped on Sunday as bandits stormed Ogu and Tegina communities in Rafi Local Government Area (LGA) of Niger State.
The Chief of Staff to Rafi LGA Chairman, Mr. Mohammed Mohammed, confirmed the incident to Channels Television yesterday.
Efforts to reach the police authorities to confirm the incident proved abortive as the Police Public Relations Officer in Niger, Wasiu Abiodun, did not pick his calls or respond to messages sent to him, the broadcasting station reported.
A resident of Ogu, Mr. Kamal Wayam, said the attackers stormed the community on Sunday morning and started shooting into the air.
“The gunmen, in their large number, arrived in Ogu on motorcycles and before we knew what was happening, they started shooting into the air.
“They ransacked people’s houses and whatever valuable they could lay their hands on, they carted away,” Wayam said during his conversation with Mohammed.
He added, “They also abducted six persons from Ogu. Four of the persons abducted were members of one family while the other two were visitors to the community.”
Ogu is a settlement close to Wayam, another community about two kilometres from Kagara, the headquarters of Rafi LGA.
Similarly, the attack on Tegina community was said to have happened at about 12:30 am on Monday with 16 people abducted.
“The gunmen entered the room of my daughter that night, but she hid herself under the bed, while her husband went up the ceiling,” Sani Gamachindo, a resident of the community, told Mohammed,
He added: “When the gunmen entered their room, they spent like 30 minutes and ate almost all the food in the kitchen. Thank God they were not abducted, but 16 persons were kidnapped.”
The latest attacks in Rafi LGA came barely four days after gunmen abducted a youth leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the District Head of Gunna, and two children of two health workers in Garin Gabbas and Yakila communities in the local government.
Elsewhere, a pastor with the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Jeremiah Ibrahim, was killed by gunmen in Chukuba community in Shiroro LGA.
The clergyman who was serving at the branch of the church in Kuta was murdered on Friday last week.
A senior official of the church in Minna, who pleaded anonymity, said Ibrahim had gone to check his farm in Chukuba and decided to visit a colleague who was the resident pastor of Chukuba where he was attacked and killed.
“This is coming barely two weeks after six missionaries of ECWA and the wife of one of them were abducted,” he added.