Success Nwogu, Leke Baiyewu, Olaleye Aluko, Adeniyi Olugbemi and Olaide Oyelude
Some gunmen on Wednesday night invaded the Government Girls’ Secondary School, Moriki, Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, and abducted five persons including two caterers and three children.
Also, security was beefed up on Thursday in Daura and some of its surrounding villages after bandits kidnapped the Magajin Garin Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar, an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
Worried by the rising insecurity in the country particularly in the North, the House of Representatives on Thursday invited the President to address the lawmakers on what his administration was doing to stem the tide of killings and abductions in the country.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party knocked Buhari for the Zamfara girls’ school abduction, saying the President “wanders abroad,” while insecurity was rising in the country.
The opposition party called on the President to hurry back home to address the security challenge.
Confirming the attack on the GGSS, Moriki, on Thursday, the Zamfara State Police Command said though no pupil of the school was abducted, two caterers and their three children were kidnapped during the invasion.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mohammed Shehu, in a statement stated that armed men entered the school through the back fence with intent to abduct the schoolgirls.
He stated that after being alerted the police went to the scene, confronted the armed men and stopped them from gaining access to the girls’ hostels.
Sheu added, “The bandits took a retreat to the bush. No pupil was abducted as earlier reported by some media. However, two caterers and three of their children were later discovered missing. The police are collaborating with the school authorities to establish the whereabouts of the missing persons.”
The PPRO disclosed that a search and rescue operation team had been dispatched to the surrounding bushes.
Security has been beefed up in the school and its environment to forestall further happening,” he added.
Reacting to the abduction, the Zamfara State Government said it was committed to ensuring security of its schools, adding that such places needed special protection.
The Director General, Press Affairs, Bashir Ahmed, who spoke to one of our correspondents said, “The state government is committed to doing more to make places such as girls’ schools are more secure.
“Such places need special protection and consideration to avert a recurrence of Chibok and Dapchi girls’ schools’ saga.”
But the PDP urged President Buhari to immediately end his ‘private visit’ to the United Kingdom and return home to address the country’s deteriorating security situation.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, made the call in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.
Ologbondiyan said it was unacceptable for Buhari to be pursuing undisclosed private matters abroad, while bandits and insurgents continue to kidnap and kill Nigerians.
He said, “President Buhari’s inattention has emboldened insurgents and bandits to continue to overrun communities and unleash mayhem on citizens in Borno, Zamfara, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba, Kaduna, Benue, Kogi and other states of the federation, including Buhari’s home state, Katsina.
“While President Buhari wanders abroad, bandits are having a field day, pillaging communities in Katsina State; killing several persons and abducting the district head of his hometown, Daura, Musa Umar; the father in-law of Mr President’s security aide.”
He added, “Within this period, marauders invaded communities in Adamawa and killed no fewer than 26 innocent Nigerians; many more have been killed in Borno, Taraba, Benue and Zamfara states, where bandits also reportedly attacked Government Girls’ Secondary School, Moriki, and kidnapped some schoolgirls.
“While the Buhari administration remains virtually nonchalant, kidnappers have taken over many of our major highways, with hundreds of compatriots held in captivity in forests along the Kaduna-Abuja, Taraba-Katsina-Ala and other highways in the country.”
The PDP spokesman claimed that Buhari had not displayed the required capacity to control the security situation.
He said there were reports that some of the bandits arrested in states such as Katsina, were not Nigerians but aliens allegedly imported by the All Progressives Congress from Niger Republic to assist it in unleashing violence and rigging during the 2019 general elections.
He said, “The fact remains that Buhari has completely failed our nation. In fact, his dereliction of duty is a clear signal that he has been practically overwhelmed, deflated and has nothing to offer.
“The situation in Nigeria today signposts the terrible condition our nation will face if the presidential mandate is not retrieved at the tribunal to enable competent and uncompromised hands to run the affairs of our country.
“The PDP, therefore, calls on Buhari to immediately return home and use the remaining part of his tenure to seek help instead of wandering abroad under the guise of private visits.”
Meanwhile, in Katsina State on Thursday, sympathisers thronged the house of Magajin Garin Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar, an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was abducted on Wednesday by bandits.
Residents of the town said they were shocked by the bandits’ attack on the peaceful Daura town.
The Police beefed up security in Daura and other surrounding towns including Shargalle, Mashi and Kayauki.
The Sarkin Labarun, Daura, Mallam Usman Ibrahim, said the family and the emirate council would not talk in order not to jeopardise the safety of the district head.
He said, “Please we are not talking now. You should rather join us in prayers for his protection and safe return.’’
The spokesman for the Katsina State Police Command, Gambo Isah, in a statement in Katsina on Thursday said efforts were on to rescue the man.
Isah said at 7.10pm on Wednesday about six gunmen, who were shooting sporadically into the air, stormed the residence of the district head in a blue Peugeot 405 car and abducted him while he was seating on a bench outside his house.
According to him, police patrol teams at Kusada intercepted the hoodlums and engaged them in a gun battle.
He said that during the gun battle one Inspector Muntari Maikudi attached to the Kusada Division sustained injury and was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Katsina, for treatment.
He appealed to members of the public to “assist the security agencies with timely and actionable intelligence on the activities of these bandits.”
A legal practitioner in Daura, Ado Lalu, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the Police Service Commission should take a second look at the processes involved in the recruitment of police personnel.
Lalu added, ”The police cannot be everywhere at the same time. We must cooperate with them and give them valuable information to curb crimes. I will also suggest that recruitment into the police force should be based on merit and not on the people you know.’’
A businessman, Nura Ibrahim, called for the overhaul of security agencies in Daura, adding that if the district head could be kidnapped in front of his house, there was a serious security challenge in the state.
He said, ’’The old man was sitting down in front of his house before he was kidnapped. And if a man of that calibre could be kidnapped like that, there is a serious security challenge and security agencies especially the police need to be overhauled.”
According to a report, the district head is married to Hajiya Bilki, a niece to President Buhari. Biliki is a daughter of his elder sister, Hajiya Rakiya. The kidnapped monarch is also the father of Fatima, who is married to the president’s Aide De Camp, Col. Mohammed Abubakar.
Again, Reps invite Buhari, reject state of emergency in N’West
But at the plenary on Thursday, the lawmaker representing Safana/Batsari/Danmusa Federal Constituency in Katsina State, Mr Ahmed Safana, presented a motion titled, ‘Urgent need for Federal Government’s intervention in the ongoing wanton killing of innocent persons, destruction of property, armed robbery and kidnapping by bandits operating within Safana/Batsari/Danmusa Federal Constituency of Katsina State.’
The motion was debated for almost two hours, with several lawmakers, who spoke lamenting that the country’s security architecture had failed.
While some called on Buhari to do an appraisal of the security and service chiefs, others wondered why crimes were prevalent in the North where most of the heads of security agencies come from.
Unanimously adopting the motion, the House urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Safana/Batsari/Dan-Musa Federal Constituency “as an immediate step in containing the evil activities of the bandits.”
House rejects emergency declaration on banditry in North-West
A member, Mr Nuhu Damburam, called for an amendment to the prayer, that the state of emergency be extended to “the entire North-West zone,” but this was unanimously opposed by the lawmakers when the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, who presided over the session, put it to a voice vote.
The House, however, adopted other prayers of the motion, including the call on the Federal Government to deploy the military in the areas under attack to assist the police and other security agencies “in flushing out these criminal elements operating in my constituency.”
The lawmakers also urged the National Emergency Management Agency to urgently provide relief materials to the victims of the attacks in line with Section 60 of NEMA Act.
Another member, Mr Ali Madaki, made an additional prayer that the President be “invited to brief the House on insecurity all over the country and what is being done to address it.”
According to Madaki, there is an urgent need for Buhari to speak on the security situation, stressing that the executive is in charge of the security apparatus of the country.
Dogara also put the prayer to a voice vote. Though the nays were louder than the ayes, the Speaker ruled that the ayes had it.
It was the second invitation by the lawmakers to the President within three weeks.
The House had earlier on April 11, 2019, adopted a motion with the mandate to issue a query to the President, asking him to explain the spate of insecurity under his administration within 48 hours.
The lawmakers had resolved to “request that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces address the House and the entire nation within 48 hours.”
The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the summons had not been transmitted to the President one week after.
The Senate had also invited the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Adamu Mohammed, who is billed to appear before the chamber to explain the security crises on Tuesday.
In a related development, the Defence Headquarters said the military would not relent in its efforts to tackle the bandits in the North-West, noting that bandits were fleeing through forests in Zamfara State to Katsina because of the military raids on their enclaves.
The acting Director of Defence Information, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents, saying the presidential marching orders had made the military and other security agencies to step up their game in the zone.
The bandits on Tuesday night had attacked Gobirawa and Sha Ka Wuce villages in the Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State, killing at least 15 persons and forcing residents to flee to Runka town.
The Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said on Thursday that the bandits were trying to distract military operations, having suffered military heat in Zamfara and Sokoto states.
The DHQ spokesman, Nwachukwu, said, “The attack on Wednesday in Katsina is quite unfortunate. It is an attempt by the bandits to distract the ongoing operations in Zamfara State. You know that with the presidential marching orders, the military and other security agencies have stepped up their game in the anti-banditry operations in Zamfara State.
“There are forests that run from Zamfara across Katsina, Sokoto and others. The bandits are highly mobile. And because of the heat on them in Zamfara, they are trying to cause that distraction and they are moving into Katsina. I think it is a distraction to cause our troops to reduce the attacks on their enclaves in Zamfara and Sokoto states.
“The Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs have not been sleeping since the presidential marching orders. That is why you see that there is a lot of heat on the bandits in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna states.”