Bennett Oghifo in Lagos and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto
Terrorists in the early hours of yesterday abducted scores of students at the Federal University Gusau, Zamfara State and another nine construction workers engaged within the university.
This is coming as the eight graduates from Akwa Ibom State who were abducted on August 17 in Zamfara on their way to the Sokoto State National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp clocked 38 days in the dungeons of terrorists today.
THISDAY gathered that the terrorists who abducted the varsity student invaded three private hostels in Sabon Gida village, near the university around 4am, shooting indiscriminately, before abducting the students.
An indigene of Sabon Gida village, Abubakar Sani, said: “The bandits came in large numbers and stormed three students’ off-campus residences in the village. They broke into the hostels and brought out a number of students. Many of those kidnapped were females, while other students were able to escape into the bush.”
As at press time, the exact number of students abducted had not been ascertained.
The Zamfara State Police Command and authorities of the university have refused to respond to enquiries about the abductions.
The nine construction workers abducted on the same day, but on the university campus, were snatched in the building provided for them by the school’s authorities.
One of the workers, Ibrahim Mohammed, who narrowly escaped from the terrorists, said the attackers arrived in the university on motorcycles, broke into the building where the workers were sleeping and whisked them away.”
He said, “When they broke into the building, they told us to come out and follow them. I was looking for a way to escape, then suddenly I jumped out and one of the bandits fired a shot but could not get me.”
Last night, operatives of the Joint Task Force, Operation Hadarin-Daji, claimed to have rescued six of the abducted students – females.
Force Information Officer, Operation Hadarin-Daji, Cpt. Ibrahim Yahaya said troops pursued the abductors to the forest and engaged them in a gun duel, supported by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) air component, and were able to rescue the six students.
Yahaya further stated that several bandits were neutralised during the rescue effort, which, he said, was still ongoing.
“The troops also recovered one AK-47, a magazine, four motorcycles and one communication gadget from the terrorists,” the officer said.
Governor Lawal Summons Emergency Security Meeting
Also yesterday, the Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal, summoned an emergency security meeting following the abduction of the university students.
Lawal stressed that the meeting was aimed at ensuring the immediate release of all abducted persons and finding a sustainable solution to the lingering issue of insecurity that has become a source of concern to the administration.
The governor directed the Deputy Governor, Mani Mallam Mummuni, to provide all the necessary support to the security agencies to restore normalcy in all affected areas.
According to a statement from Government House, Gusau, “During the meeting, the security chiefs assured the Governor of their commitment to restoring peace in the state.
“They equally unequivocally confirmed that troops had successfully rescued six kidnap victims. The security chiefs further assured that troops had neutralised scores of the kidnappers and are actively pursuing them to ensure the safe rescue of all victims.”
Abducted NYSC Members
Meanwhile, the eight graduates from Akwa Ibom State, abducted in Zamfara State on their way to the Sokoto State NYSC orientation camp, clocked 38 days in the dungeons of terrorists today.
The traumatised parents of the abductees paid N13 million to the terrorists, yet, they have refused to release them.
As at press time, the terrorists were demanding an additional N200 million ransom.
A family member of one of the abductees remarked: “We don’t know how we are going to raise that kind of money. Everybody was shocked when two parents told us that after they paid the final N8 million (to make up the N13 million ransom negotiated), the terrorists suddenly refused to release our children.
“They said instead, the kidnappers contacted them to demand an additional N200 million ransom. We have paid N13 million already. First, we paid N5 million, later N8 million. Some parents sold their lands, and some even collected loans to raise the N13 million. We have not received any help from the government. So, how are we going to raise this fresh ransom of N200 million? We have deliberately kept this development from my mother. I don’t think that poor widow will survive if she hears this. We are suffering and helpless.”
Another of the affected parents remarked: “Terrorists are molesting our children and the government can’t rescue them. They are communicating with us, parents and relatives, on the phone and we have given the numbers to security agents, yet, they have failed to do anything positive. This is horrific.”
In the meantime, the Director General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Yusha’u Ahmed, has said the agency is working with security agencies to secure the release of the abducted NYSC members.
Speaking at an interactive session with members of the House of Representatives Committee on Youth Development, Ahmed said: “We have full synergy among the agencies.”
But an indigene of Akwa Ibom State, who is also a journalist, Ibanga Isine, in a piece titled, “Free Kidnapped Corps Members: An Open letter”, addressed to the NYSC Director-General, and copied to President Bola Tinubu; President of Senate, Godswill Akpabio; National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu; Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and Minister of State, Defence, Bello Matawalle, alleged that the NYSC DG was not doing enough to free the abductees.
Ibanga said: “With due respect, General, how do you sleep in the night knowing that peoples’ children who simply answered the call to serve their country are languishing in the camp of brigands who can take their lives at any time?
“If your child or that of President Tinubu was captured in this way, would you act as if nothing had happened or that you were not responsible for them just because they did not make it to the camp?”