Indications have emerged as to why the armed bandits who have been terrorizing the North Western axis of the country went for their victims at the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State and abducted over 300 pupils in an almost flawless operation last week.
A native of the town, who spoke with Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity, said that the headquarters of the Kankara Local Government Area and the surrounding villages had come under constant attacks by the armed bandits who have been abducting residents and releasing them after they have been paid hefty sums of money as ransom.
“This had been the practice since July last year when the ‘peace deal’ between the Katsina State Government and the bandits broke down. Since then, the villages and the farmers in the adjourning villages have come under ceaseless attacks,” our source said.
“To this effect, people within Kankara town had to resort to making arrangements to protect themselves and that’s been the reason for relative peace until the recent attack.
“Villages around have been under constant attack, in fact about seven villages have had to relocate with the residents moving to the town. Farmers have been frequently abducted and have been paying ransom to be released.
“The villages include Yarkuka, Ungwar Arewa, Masakwai, Madobai and Tafkin Gungume among others. Several villagers came and went back while others dispersed to Katsina and Mallumfashi. Those who could not simply went to stay in the temporary Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp at the Nuhu Primary School at the centre of the town.
“When the insecurity became unbearable, the youths decided to take their destinies into their hands and formed a vigilante group and provided security for themselves and the residence for quite a while now.
So the school and the students became ready targets for them.” Furthermore, our source revealed that the school which is on the outskirts of the town is the regular routes of the bandits from where they enter the town to strike and go back after carrying out their nefarious activities.
“The school is situated along their route with only a police man at the gate,” he pointed out. This much, the President, Association of Industrial Safety and Security Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, attested to on Good Morning Nigeria.
According to him: “The remoteness of the school made it a target. Why didn’t we anticipate that farm and villages are drying up of targets to seize? They then looked for new targets to seize, pick on schools with the sole purpose to collect ransom.
“This is a classic. The world has never seen anything like this in terms of the number of pupils taken. Nigeria has entered the ‘Guinness World Book of Records’ in a negative way.”
Also weighing in, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Joshak Habila (rtd), who was in charge of operations and a member of the Think Tank on the Safe Schools Initiative said: “After the Chibok, Buni Yadi and Dapchi attacks, we came up with a security template that police, NSCDC (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps), DSS (Department of State Services) should be deployed to protect schools, When we put this into action, things went on fine, However, the security agencies could not do much.”
In his own contribution, Security Risk Management Expert (SRME) Dr. Kabir Adamu said government and the security agencies did not take the threats which had all been there seriously.
“Ungoverned space called the Ruga Forests which spans eight local government areas in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states allow the terrorists to come and take away the sitting ducks. Our threat assessments, risk assessment, and profiling has not helped us in this situation.”
The trio was unanimous on how to defeat terror. Dr. Ekhomu summed up: “There is the need to strengthen soft targets in the country. The government is not doing enough in terms of enlightenment, communication and developing protocols that they are soft targets but have strengths of their own if they report to the authorities in case they see any unusual movement, strange behaviours by people they know.”