•Ruling party apologises to students, parents
•Tinubu lauds Buhari, Masari over ‘prompt rescue’
•Nigeria must not allow outlaws hold her to ransom, says Atiku
•Boko Haram abducts 35 commuters on Borno highway
Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, said it would make sure the kind of lapses that led to the recent abduction of over 300 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State did not repeat itself. APC urged the security agencies in the country to note the lessons of the Kankara experience and prevent a recurrence.
The party apologised to both the students and their parents, pledging that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration would do all in its powers to make sure they study in a safe environment.
The boys, who were abducted from their school on December 11, were released December 17 following the coordinated efforts of the federal and Katsina State governments. Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari announced Thursday evening that Boko Haram had released the 344 schoolboys.
National leader of APC and widely rumoured 2023 presidential hopeful, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, commended Buhari and Masari for their intervention to rescue the students.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, reacting to the wave of insecurity in the country, said Nigeria must not allow outlaws hold her to ransom. Atiku stated this while sympathising with the Emir of Kaura Namoda, Alhaji Sanusi Muhammad Asha, over the recent murder of his aides and security details by bandits, who attacked his convoy.
Meanwhile, barely 24 hours after the Kankara students were released, armed men believed to be members of the Boko Haram sect, reportedly, abducted no fewer than 35 commuters on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, a senior security source revealed.
National Caretaker Chairman of APC and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, said shortly after the release of the Kankara students that the party was gladdened and relieved by the news of their freedom. In a statement issued Saturday, APC apologised to the students and vowed that Buhari and the party would ensure a safe learning environment for them.
APC stated, “The All Progressives Congress has received with joy and a glad heart the release and return of the students, who were abducted by terrorists from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina State.
“We want to congratulate the parents of the children and also apologise on behalf of our party that one of our biggest promises was security and, although, we are doing our utmost best, such incident is a sad event and must, at all cost, not repeat itself.
“We do not doubt the capacity of our security agencies, we believe and know they are capable, especially, when they are well motivated and led, which we can assure is the case under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We are trusting and hopeful that this episode will never repeat itself. We encourage the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Police and other security agents to take lessons from the lapses that led to this abduction and ensure that we never see a repeat of this tragedy again.”
The party commended the governors of Katsina and Zamfara states as well as the security agencies across the country for making the rescue effort successful.
APC assured Nigerians that the Buhari government would take all necessary steps to secure them.
However, another statement by the youth representative in the party’s caretaker committee, Mr. Ismaeel Ahmed, warned that no member of APC, outside the 13-member caretaker committee was allowed to speak for the party.
The statement said, “The party wishes to inform the general public especially, members of the media that the members of the defunct exco, which was dissolved at the last National Executive Council meeting of the party, do not speak for the party, and, thus, should not be quoted as such.
“We have seen statements published in the media quoting members of the party’s dissolved executive and attributing it to the party. This is unacceptable and we will like to make it clear that only members of the current National Caretaker and Extraordinary Convention Committee may speak for the party.”
Boko Haram Abducts 35 Commuters on Borno Highway
A security source, which confirmed the abduction of the 35 commuters on the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway by Boko Haram members, hinted that they were traveling about 6pm on Friday, before they were accosted by insurgents dressed in military camouflage. The source said the commuters were few kilometres away from Maiduguri and were rushing to meet the 6pm window allowed for vehicles to get into Maiduguri before the attack.
Vehicles are not always allowed passage into Maiduguri, as the highway leading into the town from Damaturu, which has a gate at Njimtilo, few kilometres to the Borno State capital, is locked at 6pm.
The source said the insurgents abducted the victims after attacking a large convoy of commuters near Garin Kuturu in Jakana on Friday evening.
One of those who claimed to have escaped abduction told journalists that when they got to Garin Kuturu, they saw a massive burning fire and initially thought it was bush fire. On getting closer, however, they saw that a big truck was set ablaze by insurgents, many of who were dressed in military camouflage, the source said. He said at that point it was already too late, as they had already run into the ambush.
The source said, “All we could see was the insurgents storming towards us, before most vehicles could make a U-turn, the insurgents had already caught up with many.
“Some of the passengers, however, were able to flee into the bush, but about 35 persons were abducted, two private vehicles and one truck were set ablaze.”
The source added that commuters who fled into the bush abandoned some vehicles on the road.
A security source that spoke to THISDAY said no search had been initiated for the abducted persons, because it would require a lot of logistics, and the government was yet to come up with the needed logistics.
Attempts to get official confirmation of the incident was not successful, as the spokespersons of both the military and the police did not respond to messages sent to their mobile phones.
Buhari’s Prompt Response Commendable, Says Tinubu
Tinubu commended Buhari and Masari for the rescue of the schoolboys, saying their quick release has vindicated the president in his untiring effort to make the country secure.
A statement released at the weekend in Lagos from Tinubu’s Media Office, signed by Mr. Tunde Rahman, quoted the former Lagos State governor as saying, “The initial abduction of the over 300 Kankara schoolboys from their dormitory in broad daylight was unsettling and raises serious concern.
“However, their prompt rescue from their abductors is heart-warming. It vindicates President Buhari in his untiring commitment and determination to rid the country of insecurity and confront Boko Haram insurgents and bandits operating in some parts of the country.
“I congratulate and commend the president for his prompt and decisive intervention. I must also congratulate Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari and men of our armed forces for bringing the boys back home. This laudable effort must be sustained. We must all do more to tackle the evildoers and see the back of the Boko insurgents and bandits.”
Tinubu, however, said the country’s security architecture needed urgent improvement.
“We need to upgrade our security infrastructure and re-strategise,” he stated, adding, “The armed forces themselves must renew their efforts to make not only our schools safe for students but also our cities and villages. No development can occur in a climate of fear, uncertainty, and insecurity of lives and property.”
Tinubu empathised with the “agonised parents and relations of the abducted schoolboys and rejoice with them over the release of their children from the jaws of the abductors.”
Atiku Warns Against Allowing Outlaws Take Over Nigeria
Atiku, in a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, on the attack on the Emir of Kaura Namoda, Alhaji Sanusi Muhammad Asha, by bandits said the rate at which life was becoming cheap in the country was worrisome. He said the frequency of attacks and killing of innocent people by bandits was embarrassing. Atiku said this should be halted to prevent outlaws from taking over the affairs of the country.
The Wazirin Adamawa added that a situation where people were afraid to leave their homes for the fear of being killed by bandits was a cause for anxiety, insisting that the government’s response should be tougher and more proactive.
“Condemnation of attacks is not enough to reassure citizens, who are constantly living in fear, the government should speed up the prosecution of terrorists and bandits in order to send a strong message to these outlaws that there are consequences for wilful taking of life,” Atiku stated.
He commiserated with the families of those who lost dear ones, Emir Muhammad Asha, the Kaura Namoda Emirate Council and the government and people of Zamfara State over the tragedy.
Mohammed: It’s Senseless to Say Kankara Students’ Abduction Was Stage-managed
The federal government has described as senseless claims in some quarters that the abduction and release of over 300 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, was stage-managed. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, dismissed the claim on Saturday, when he spoke on the NTA Good Morning Nigeria programme.
According to the interview monitored by NAN, Mohammed queried, “What precisely does government want to achieve? Is it to prove the deficiency of the military or what?
“In the case of Dapchi, we had all kinds of bizarre theories. You have to be in government to know how many sleepless nights the president, ministers and heads of security outfits spent until the matter was resolved.”
He alleged that many people were disappointed that the Kankara abduction was resolved fast, just like that of Dapchi.
The minister stated, “Many naysayers would have loved the incident to linger and become the igniting rod for their attacks. Otherwise, how do we describe the spurious organisation like the Bring Back Our Boys that emerged within a few days of the capture of the students?
“Within a few days of the abduction, the so-called organisation had moved to Katsina. Dapchi abduction was in 2018, how come two years down the lane, nobody has come out to tell us how it was stage-managed?”
He admonished politicians and other interest groups to stop politicising and commercialising issues of security and national tragedy.
“In times of crisis and tragedy, people normally come together to address the issue. It is not a time to politicise and even trade or commercialise the misery and tragedy of a nation. We can have our differences but when it comes to issues of security, we should come together and fight it,” Mohammed said.
PDP: APC Plotting to Heighten Insecurity in Zamfara, Other States
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Saturday, alerted Nigerians to an alleged plot by the Governor Mai Buni-led All Progressives Congress (APC) national caretaker committee to use its spokesperson, Yekini Nebena, to heighten the insecurity in the northwestern part of the country. PDP said it was already aware of plans by APC to use the said acting national publicity secretary to destabilise the North-west states, particularly Zamfara State, instigate violence, and blame it on Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle, a PDP member.
A statement by PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “Our party has also noted series of devious statements against Governor Matawalle by the APC, a party that has been exposed to encouraging acts of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in our country.
“The APC has been distraught since their roles in emboldening acts of terrorism have been exposed by our party and now seeks to use an impostor, as spokesperson, to trigger violence, heighten insecurity and blame it on innocent Nigerians.
“Our party charges Nigerians to hold the Governor Mai Buni-led caretaker committee responsible, should there be any sudden wave of acts of terrorism, kidnapping and banditry in Zamfara state.”
PDP urged Nigerians to hold the APC caretaker committee responsible should there be another mass abduction in any state of the North-west or any part of the country. It stated, “Our party cautions the APC to end its evil enterprise with the lives of Nigerians for their selfish interest. The fact remains that the APC has been exposed for what it is: a soulless mob and party of political bandits, which is responsible for the escalated terrorism, wanton killings, kidnapping and ravaging of communities in our country.”
The main opposition party stated that having exposed the APC, Nigerians should be watchful, remain united in resisting the ruling party and its antics, and continue to give useful information to the security forces, even as they collectively work hard on opportunities offered by democracy to rescue the nation from the stranglehold of the APC.