On Saturday, 12th December 2020, news of hundreds of students abducted from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State , following attack by armed bandits, began making the rounds.
It was gathered by news agency, DAILY NIGERIAN , that for years, Kankara town has been a target of kidnapping and banditry, and as such, this was in fact, no new or strange development.
A schoolteacher who was interviewed by investigative reporters after the news broke, said the bandits launched the attack shortly after prep at 9:30pm. According to his testimony, the bandits started shooting sporadically in the air, causing commotion and stampede before scaling over the fence and breaking the gate.
The total number of students who were on campus at the time of the attack, was given as 800, excluding students in terminal classes (JSS 3 and SSS 3), who are currently not around.
In an interview with the BBC, the spokesman for the Katsina State Police Command, DSP Gambo Isa, confirmed the attack, saying a policeman sustained a gunshot wound when their men engaged the bandits. He further stated that the police have beefed up security around the area to forestall future recurrence and restore normalcy.
In more recent news, it has been reported that more than 300 schoolboys are still missing after the initial reported number of students abducted as of last Friday night.
Katsina Governor Aminu Masari said on Sunday after a meeting with security officials, that:
“So far we are yet to account for 333 pupils,”
He further added that the boarding school had a total of 839 students.
Masari said students who managed to escape the attack have been coming out of hiding in the forest. It is unclear if the students initially hid or they escaped from their attackers. He said :
“Efforts are being made to ascertain the actual number of children that have been kidnapped,” .
Meanwhile, parents and family members on Sunday gathered at the school, issuing a plea to authorities to bring the missing boys to safety. An affected parent, Murja Mohammed, whose son was taken, told Reuters news agency:
“If it’s not government that will help us, we have no power to rescue our children,”
Meanwhile, the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys was trending on social media in Nigeria on Sunday as public outrage grew about the attack that initially saw 600 boys missing.
Defence Minister Major General Bashir Salihi-Magash, who met Masari, the governor, said the military will pursue the attackers and rescue the students without any collateral damage. Magash said:
“We will go the whole hog,” . “We have the intelligence, the information where they are and their movement and their method of operation.”
Another parent, Abubakar Lawal, came from Zaria, a city 120km (75 miles) south of Kankara, after learning that two of his three sons at the school were among the students abducted. He said :
“From yesterday I was here, praying that the almighty Allah should rescue our people,”
One of his missing sons, 17-year-old Buhari, was named after President Muhammadu Buhari, a native of Katsina state.
Anas, 16, was also missing. Lawal said the school principal addressed parents, telling them to pray.
Bint’a Ismail, mother of an abducted child, said residents of Katsina “are in a terrifying condition”. She added, frustrated, that :
“We don’t see the value of the government. I have a younger brother and a child taken by the kidnappers. I’m from Danja, Katsina state and I’ve been here in the school since dawn and yet there’s no update,”.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the area is far from the usual area of operation of the Boko Haram armed group which began its violent campaign in northeastern Nigeria in 2009 with the goal of imposing its version of strict Islamic law.
Following this incident, all state schools in Katsina were ordered to close because officials did not know the attackers’ motives, according to the education commissioner.
There is growing anger with the precarious security situation in Nigeria. Late last month, armed fighters killed many farmers in northeastern Borno state, beheading some of them.
The President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammad Buhari who himself was in Katsina State at the time of this attack, responded by asking Nigerians to come together in prayer, as only God could help undo the tragedy on ground.
By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi
Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web media content creator and developer with over three years of experience in web content management and several more years of research and writing. He has written quite a number of essays on and offline, developed and edited law reports, as well as he has written for and managed a handful of blogs. He currently works as a freelance content Developer for web and digital clients. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.