It seems that we have not yet seen the end of the issue of kidnapping in Zamfara State. This time again, while Nigerians were in the happy mood of a new month, came the news of the abduction of the students of Kaya Secondary School, in Maradun local government area of Zamfara State.
The latest incident happened in the broad daylight (11am) of Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Though an indigene of the place, malam Abu Kaya, told The Punch that more than a 100 students were abducted, but Police report confirmed 73 as the actual number of missing students.
Zamfara State had acquired the Status of the hotbed of kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria. With more than five incidents of mass abduction of students, topping the list with the kidnapping of over 300 (279 actual) students of GGSS Jangebe, on 26th February, 2021, Zamfara State really is in urgent need for a serious security intervention, by the Federal Government.
Governor Matawale of Zamfara State, perplexed by the recent incident, had however, ordered a 6pm to 6am curfew throughout the State but the fact, that the Kaya Secondary School abduction took place in the daylight, brings to doubt, the effectiveness of curfew, as a viable solution to the frequent kidnapping of students in Zamfara State.
The frequency of occurrence of students abduction and kidnapping in Zamfara State in particular and Northern Nigeria, in general, is becoming an embarrassment to the Federal government.
Besides, the response of the security agencies to such issues in the past, had always been clumsy and reactionary. A situation where, the security personnel will arrive at the scene of crime, after the bandits had carried away their victims; portrayed the weakness and porosity of the entire Nigerian security architecture.
Infact, the Security situation in Northern Nigeria have been so porous, even to the point of being funny. For instance, it was reported on the 3rd of July this year, that an SS1 student, in Zamfara State, posed as the boss of a bandit group and demanded N3million, with threat to kidnap the Principal and his staff, if his demand is not met.
Though issues of the abduction of persons, have been recorded in all parts of the country, the peculiarity of the Northern variant of kidnapping, is in its targeting of schools and colleges as well as the merciless abduction of large number of students and pupils without being apprehended by the security.
Apart from the over 200 girls of Chibok and 110 girls of Dapchi abducted by Boko Haram, there have been other incidences of mass abduction of students, in Northern Nigeria; like 344 students in kankara, Katsina, 100 students of Bethel Baptist high school, Damishi, Kaduna State, 279 students in Jangebe, Zamfara State.
Other places where scores of students have been abducted, also includes, Government Secondary School, Kagara Niger state, College of Forestry, Kaduna, and College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Zamfara State, etc.
Unfortunately, however, Zamfara State had the highest number of the incidents of mass abduction of students in Northern Nigeria. With five incidents in less than eight months, Zamfara State may soon assume the position of headquarters of banditry in Nigeria.
Secondly, the targeting of schools and academic institutions by bandits, implies sameness of interest with Boko Haram, which desired to destroy "Western Education" in Nigeria. To this end, therefore, Bandits and kidnappers in the North are all Terrorist and must be treated as such. Any attempt to differentiate one from the other, is hypocrisy.
Again, the demands of the bandits, in Northern Nigeria had also been staggering. For instance, the kidnappers of the students of the Kaduna college of Forestry demanded a ransom of 500million Naira.
It seems that the Federal Government had realized that, there are more to this than meets the eye, hence the adoption of the policy of no more negotiation or payment of ransom to kidnappers, as this will encourage them to be more daring.
This Government position of not negotiating or pay ransom to bandits is a welcome development, as it will discourage criminal activities and reduce their ability to procure weapons and ammunition, but needs to be complemented with the Will to checkmate the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
Proactive measures must be put in place to stem the activities of bandits and kidnappers by installing adequate security post at or around every school and colleges in the North.
Observation towers with round the clock posting, of well armed security officers, should also be recommended for all schools in Northern Nigeria.
Adequate sanction should also be put in place against any security personnel, who compromised or abandon his position to bandits. Infact, such personnel should be regarded as a conspirator or a saboteur. In a nutshell, Government should regard the situation as a declaration of war by bandits and kidnappers, terrorists; some of whom were said to be citizens of other neighboring country.
The reason for these recommendations are not far fetched. First, the number of human life lost and other resources waisted are so much that it can no more be regarded as business as usual
Secondly, government policy of not negotiating with bandit, is commendable but this must be followed with adequate measure to prevent occurrence of kidnapping, otherwise, it will seem as if government had delibrately abandoned the victims and their families, to the evil hands of the bandits.
Besides, it is also important to consider regular screening, monitoring, character audits of staffs, Intelligence gatherings around the villages, as germane to the effective prevention of the occurrence of kidnapping. This is necessary, as the ease with which bandits can take away more than three hundred students at a time without being apprehended, even in the afternoon, suggest internal assistance or cooperation from the college environment.
Government must therefore, make deliberate efforts to stem the trend of regular abduction of students of schools and colleges or in the alternative, dismantle all hostel arrangements in Northern Nigerian schools, and allow students to dwell among the people.
Enough is enough.
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