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17 pupils return from forest as ACF knocks Fed Govt
By AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna; Frank Ikpefan, Abuja; Chris Oji, Enugu and Augustine Okezie, Katsina
Parents seek safe return of boys
Governor raises hope of rescue
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Tuesday knocked the Federal Government over insecurity in the country.
Rising from its Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, it said the government was not taking proactive measures to address the situation.
The Forum’s newly-constituted BOT, which met for the first time, expressed sadness over the abduction of over 333 pupils from the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS) in Kankara, Katsina State, at the weekend.
Seventeen more pupils have been rescued and reunited with their families, Governor Aminu Masari, said in an interview with a German radio, Deutsche Welle (DW), monitored by our correspondent last night.
Two pupils are feared to have been killed by the abductors, according to one of the pupils who escaped.
Masari is hopeful that all the pupils would be rescued.
He said: “As of today (Monday night), 17 of the missing children have been found. Fifteen of them were found around Dinya in Danmusa (Local Government Area).
“I was informed by the Divisional Police Officer. One other pupil was found through them and the last, the father called that his son has returned home.
“All these missing children found have been reunited with their families since we have shut down schools.
“Majority of the students are in the forest in Zamfara. Efforts are on for their rescue.
”Two pupils are feared to have been killed by their abductors.
Some parents of abducted boys were at the school premises yesterday to pack the belongings of their children. They called on the government to rescue the kids.
ACF National Publicity Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Yawe, told reporters after the meeting that the Forum was tired of complaining about insecurity.
Yawe said: “We discussed security, and we are worried because Nigerians are not very secured.
Military: abducted pupils taken away on motorcycles
“We are not happy about insecurity in the country. We are looking at the immediate ways and long term of getting security improved.
“It has been in the news that over 300 students were kidnapped and taken away in Katsina and the government is saying they are negotiating with the kidnappers to free the students.
“These are some of the things that are very distressful and disturbing to all members of ACF. We are not happy with the security situation at all.
“We have called on the government severally and we keep saying that we are not going to allow banditry to take over our country.
“Bandits went to the school, packed students on bikes and took them to the forest.
“Whatever is happening to them in the forest, nobody knows. The situation is very distressing. Our leaders should tell us what will happen if their children are among those kidnapped.
“ACF complained about this insecurity in its October meeting; nothing was done. We are in December with the same complaint, nothing is being done. We are even tired of complaining.
“The government should have the love of the poor man at heart because it is the poor man who is really suffering. It is really sad. It is even ridiculing the country in the eyes of the international communities.
“The police and the Army seem to have been overwhelmed. It is really a distressful situation.
“The government should find ways of protecting lives and property of the citizens because it is written in the Constitution. If the government cannot do that, then it is really sad and unfortunate.”
Also yesterday, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) said the bloodletting in the country does not speak well of President Buhari as a retired general and ex-combatant.
Speaking through its chairman in Enugu State, Bishop Godwin Madu, it also called on the Northern governors to protect Christians and their places of worship.
On the abduction of pupils in Katsina, Madu urged the Federal Government to do everything to rescue all the boys without further delay.
“This is not good in a country where the President was a former head of state and an ex-combatant.
“How will the whole world see Nigeria and how can over 400 boys be kidnapped from one school in a day with no trace and there was no interception despite several of checkpoints by the soldiers and police?
“Almost all the security agencies in Nigeria mount roadblocks, yet such an atrocity was done and they have not traced where they are kept?” he wondered.
A parent, Faiza Kankara, whose son is among those kidnapped, told reporters that one of the pupils who escaped said the abductors killed two of his schoolmates.
Kankara said the escaped pupils narrated how they were flogged like animals and fed with wildflower and grasses.
Secure schools, NUT tells govt
The Nigeria Union of Teachers lamented the incidences of school invasion and abduction of teachers and students.
It called on the government to ensure adequate security and 24-hour surveillance around schools to prevent further attacks.
NUT, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, recalled several instances of pupils and teachers being abducted from schools.
“These incidences are sad reminders of previous ugly events in Chibok and Dapchi, where Boko Haram terrorists had attacked and abducted students, creating a monumental disruption of school activities and impeding our nation’s educational growth and advancement while subjecting family members and relatives to unimaginable trauma.
“The recent condemnable events of Bandits attack on schools, if not immediately addressed, will largely affect the 2019/2020 academic calendar which has already been disrupted by the six-month-long lockdown caused by the Covid- 19 pandemic.
“As a union, the NUT will not fold her hands and watch enemies of educational development threaten the nation’s educational system to suffocation.
“As such, we wish to remind our government at all levels, of their primary responsibility as enshrined in the constitution which is the security of lives and property of the entire Nigerian citizens.
“The NUT makes bold demands that the government must rise to these challenges and take up its responsibility to guarantee and execute this general principle and commitment of providing adequate security to all our educational institutions and the nation at large.”
The NUT sympathised with parents of abducted pupils and prayed for their safe return.
17 pupils return from forest as ACF knocks Fed Govt