- Your best not enough, says CAN
- Northern Elders Forum: Nigerians have lost faith in FG
- Buhari owe Nigerians explanation for decay in national security －CNG
- Soyinka to Nigerians: ‘Don’t accept child hostage taking as a way of life’
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka,the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday joined other Nigerians and non-Nigerians in deploring the current spate of student abductions by bandits .
They said in separate statements that the situation has now reached a crisis point, and urged more drastic action by government to stem the tide.
They were reacting to Friday’s attack on Government Girls Secondary School,Jangebe,Zamfara State during which gunmen kidnapped 307 students.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) lamented “the serial incident of mass abduction of our school children and citizens” .
It wanted the trend stopped immediately.
President of the association, the Reverend Samson Ayokunle described the development as saddening, and declared: “When will this government give the citizens of this country cause to breathe a sigh of relief with assurance that their lives and property are safe and secured?”
He said: “Why should the government leave the citizens of this country at the mercy of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers? What then is the essence of having a government in place?
“The most recent case of kidnapping is that of about three hundred school girls in Kangere, Zamfara State. This serial incident of mass abduction of our school children and citizens is shocking beyond words and must be stopped by this government immediately.
“Mr. President, where shall we go from here? Have the criminals taken over where there is legitimate government? Though we are praying earnestly continuously, we know faith without hard work from the side of government is vain. While we are aware that you may be doing your best, your best is not the best yet going by the current negative outcomes. The bitter truth is that, no place is presently safe in this country.
“We, once again, advise that all public secondary schools – boarding or otherwise – in the Northern part of the country should be closed henceforth until the security situation improves. The Police should be directed to recruit more personnel with a view to assigning effective and well armed standby force to every secondary school in the North and other parts of the country. From all indications, it is high time the government declared a state of emergency in the security sector of the country.
“We also call for adequate funding, training, equipping and morale boosting of our security forces in order to enhance their performances nationwide. It seems the banditry is more dangerous than COVID-19. While individuals can protect themselves from the pandemic, the same cannot be said of the security challenges.
“Let the government stop every frivolous spending and focus more on ending the menace of insecurity challenges. May God intervene for us in this nation where human efforts have failed in Jesus’ name. Amen”.
The religious body also pleaded with the President to immediately order the military to rescue Pastor Bulud Yakuru from the Boko Haram terrorists before it is too late.
Pastor Yakuru of the Ekkilisiya Yanuwa a Nigeria (EYN) Church of the Brethren was reportedly abducted on 24 December 24, 2020 when the terrorists attacked Pemi Village in Borno State.
No fewer than seven people were killed during the attack.
The CAN said the freedom of Pastor Yakuru “ is a litmus test for the new Service Chiefs and the whole world is watching whether they will live up to the expectations of or not.”
NEF: Nigerians have lost faith in FG
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) said the generality of Nigerians have “lost faith that government will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens”.
Director of Publicity of the forum, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said in a statement that repeated pledges by the federal authorities on containing bandits have yielded no positive result.
It said:“It has become painfully obvious that the federal government is unable to muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of Nigerians to violent criminals.
“In spite of assurances from the federal government that it will end banditry and kidnappings, the life of the Nigerian is becoming more endangered by the day, and citizens have lost faith that governments will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens.
“The forum advises particularly Northern governors to explore all lawful avenues to improve the security of citizens.
“While they should improve their support to the military, the police and security agencies, they should also explore avenues which give them more powers to secure citizens within the confines of the constitution which gives states powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.
“Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.”
It asked parents not to be discouraged from sending their children to school while calling on governments at all levels to take firmer measures to secure schools.
“Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copycat crimes in a region that is basically unprotected, these abductions will severely damage the poor state of education in the North, particularly girl-child education.”
Buhari owe Nigerians explanation for decay in national security – CNG
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), expressed frustration at Federal Government’s inability to stop the security challenges facing the country.
Spokeman of the CNG, AbdulAzeez Suleiman, described the increasing wave of students abduction as a grand design to cripple education in the north after messing up its economy and mutual cohesion.
It advised northern leaders to “interrogate the extent of levity of the federal authorities in not being able to anticipate and checkmate the manoeuvres of marauding bands of criminals that roam northern communities and operate at will targeting such soft spots as schools.
“No doubt, the past few days have been very difficult, for everyone. Difficult for the abducted students, difficult for parents and families of the captives emotionally, practically and of course, financially.
“The situation is also difficult for absolutely everyone as we wonder about the future and worry about each other, our neighbors, our friends, our families and ourselves.”
Soyinka to Nigerians: ‘Don’t accept child hostage taking as a way of life’
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka said in Abeokuta that Nigerians should not accept kidnapping of school children in parts of the north as a way of life.
The octogenarian playwright spoke in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Ogun State award lecture and public presentation of ‘Chronicles of the happiest people on earth,’ his latest book.
Soyinka said government and the security agencies have failed Nigerians, but was quick to add that he himself did not know what else to recommend as panacea to the nation’s “abnormal times.”
His words: “It is important that we remind ourselves and stress that these are abnormal times, but it seems to me any way as times of shirking of responsibilities in key areas. “We cannot permit ourselves to accept child hostage taking as a way of life.We just cannot continue in this fashion; something drastic and meaningful has to take place and it has to be collective.
“This is no longer the responsibility of those at the top, in charge of security, in charge of governance; they have clearly failed the populace, they have failed us.
“There is no point trying to reason it up, trying to give an excuse, putting blame or whatever. The important thing is that we are very close to accepting a culture of the unacceptable.
“Has it got to be COVID-19 that we take stringent actions? is it going to be an abnormality like COVID – 19 that compels us to shut down if necessary and I mean shut down?
“I think we are reaching the point where in any state, where any child is kidnapped, that State should shut down completely and other states in sympathy, solidarity should shut down some of their activities.
“we should not wait for an enemy – faceless, airbone unpredictable enemy like COVID – 19 – to shut down, to make us shut down, to say in protest and as a statement of the unacceptable we are shutting ourselves down until this situation is resolved
“I think we have reached the point where,when our children are taken away from us we should, at least for some time shut down.
“It sounds extreme but we don’t know what else one can propose at this particular time.
“Yes life must go on but even those activities will generate and enhance our very existence. I think we have to take on a tonality of regrets, of the unacceptable, protestation and mobilization on whatever level it is possible as a community of human beings.
“It is not either a day of too much negativity but we are paying a price and consequence with permanence of those scars in our collective psyche that is what worries me.
“This movement towards accepting as a way of life the absence of the young generation compelled, enforced and forced absence of our own children.”
Security agencies must change tactics – NHRC
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also deplored the incessant kidnapping of students in parts of the country.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu said a situation where young boys and girls in schools are being abused and violated by some unscrupulous elements in the society is deeply worrying.
He urged security agencies, particularly the police and Department of State Services (DSS) to change their tactics in addressing the problem of insecurity.
Spokesperson of the agency, Fatimah Agwai Mohammed quoted Ojukwu as saying: “the level of insecurity in Nigeria is getting worse by the day and as such poses additional challenge to all the security agencies, particularly the Police, Department of State Service (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to do the needful to restore citizens’ confidence in government to protect them.”
Ojukwu told security agencies to do all in their capacity to rescue the innocent school children so as not to adversely affect school enrollment in the state, thereby jeopardizing their right to education.
He said the Zamfara state government should reconsider its concept of repentant bandits so that it does not elevate criminality to a level where bandits will be dictating conditions for negotiations with government.
To the abductors,he said they should remember that the school girls in their custody are innocent and therefore do not deserve any form of violations or mistreatment, imploring them to ensure their immediate and unconditional release.
He reiterated the need for all the stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the Child’s Rights Act 2003, particularly rights to free and compulsory education at least up to Senior Secondary School level.
“He added that this cannot be realised where the school environment is not safe and secure for a continuous learning.”
APC defends Buhari, says he’s committed to quick, safe release of Jangebe girls
However,the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) assured the parents of the girls abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration’s commitment to the quick and safe release of the abductees.
Secretary to the Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the party, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe in a statement in Abuja yesterday said Buhari was resolved to end cowardly attacks on soft targets.
He however called on all Nigerians to join hands with government and be more committed to seeing to the end of the dastardly scourge of armed banditry.
Akpanudoedehe welcomed the safe release of the abducted students and staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
“It is truly heartwarming that the abductees have been reunited with their families and loved ones. We appreciate government’s efforts at all levels including non-State actors which ensured the safe release of the abductees,” he said.
“While President Muhammadu Buhari government’s resolve and capacity to end cowardly attacks on soft targets is not in doubt, we must collectively do more to end the scourge, particularly tighter security around schools.”
Zamfara APC faults Matawalle’s peace accord
The Zamfara State chapter of the All Progressive Congress faulted the peace initiative of the state government with bandits in the state.
The state APC Caretaker Committee chairman, Abubakar Liman, said the initiative has failed to solve any problem as “these armed bandits have continued launching fatal attacks and kidnapping for ransom.”
He added:“They have been engaged in maiming, raping, arson and other atrocities against the peace loving populace of the state, and the situation is on the increase in almost every part of our dear state.”
The APC also advised Governor Bello Matawalle to stop paying lip services to the security situation in the state, calling on him to tell the world the real situation in the state so that, the state could be assisted to fight banditry.
“There is no point to be paying lip services by the State Government about the true security situation of the State while the citizens silently groaning with guttural sounds under the shackles of armed bandits who have found Zamfara State as a “Safe Haven” courtesy of the State Government’s so called “Peace accord” with them.