The Federal Government says measures are already in place to ensure the safe release of the abducted students, staff and members of their families in Government Science College Kagara, Rafi LGA in Niger State. 27 students, three teachers, and 12 members of their families were abducted in an overnight raid by alleged bandits.
But former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned against the payment of ransom for kidnap because it makes the venture lucrative for criminals.
Niger Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, has said earlier on Wednesday that no ransom will be paid as it encouraged the negative enterprise.
Atiku’s words condemning the abduction of 42 students, teachers, and their family members: “I condemn the abduction of students and staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State. The reported death of one of the students in the process of escape, is heartbreaking. The thoughts of my family and I are with the parents and the authorities of the institution.
“The spate of insecurity in Nigeria is now beyond alarming. It has gotten to crisis levels, especially when it involves children and other minors.
“Now is not the time for fingers to point in blame. Our nation needs solutions. And we have now seen that paying ransoms, and allowing criminals to profit from their criminality is not a solution.
“When you reward crimes, the end result is more crime.”
The Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed leading a Federal Government delegation to Niger State observed that the State government has already swung into action, endorsed the steps taken, and stressed that Federal Government will not surrender its sovereignty to criminals. He reassured the people of the State in particular and Nigeria in general that no stone will be left unturned to ensure the safety of all.
A statement from the Niger State Governor spokeswoman, Mrs Mary Noel-Berje, said the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, disclosed both kinetic and non-kinetic approach will be used to secure the release of those abducted, adding that there will be a confluence of both political and military efforts to resolve the issue.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari is resolved and determined to apply whatever it takes to ensure safety of lives and property in the country.
Also speaking, the Inspector General (IG) of Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu said a lot of strategy has been put in place to deal with the situation adding the rate of banditry and kidnappings in the country has remained and issue of concern to the Federal Government.
The IGP stated that the Police is working, in synergy with other security agencies within the communities to ensure that the kidnapped students as well as others travelling along Zungeru-Kontagora road are freed unharmed.
He said the Force will reinforce the strategy deployed in the release of Kankara students in Katsina State to achieve the same feat.
In order to ensure the state is kept peaceful and the criminals dealt with, the IGP said the police has deployed four units of Mobile Police Force men to the state and is working with the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to reinforce security.
Earlier, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello had briefed the delegation on the security situation and the efforts made so far to ensure the safe return of the students and others that have been abducted.
He expressed delight at the prompt action taken by the Federal Government on the incidents and said he is hopeful that the abducted persons will be released soon.
The Federal Government’s delegation included Ministers of Information Lai Mohammed; Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi; National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and Inspector General (IG) of Police Mohammed Abubakar Adamu.
In his statement, Atiku said the only long term solution to the insecurity challenge in the country is to end the reign of impunity.
“The Federal Government must enforce the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against abductions and kidnappings, by apprehending the criminals, trying them and making an example of those convicted, to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Also, we must be proactive. We cannot wait for these abductions to happen and then go into reactive mode.
“I therefore call on the Federal Government to declare all secondary and primary schools in the affected states and zones, as Federal Protected Zones, and post armed military personnel at all schools for 24/7 protection. If it is not feasible to have armed military guards in all schools, then each state in the should as a matter of urgency replicate the Civilian Joint Task Force idea, that has worked so well in Borno, and deploy them to each school, along with men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“What we must not do is do nothing. History may forgive us for making wrong decisions, but we will never be forgiven if we carry on business as usual.
“As a nation, we must be willing to provide the same level of security that we provide for the schools that the children of the elite attend, for schools that the children of other classes of Nigerians attend.
“I pray that the Kagara staff and students are rescued, and for peace to return to Nigeria,” the former Vice President added.