30 September 2013

Nigeria: Gunmen Kill 50 Students in Yobe College Attack

Photo: Capital FM

In less than 48 hours to 53rd independence anniversary, unknown gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents yesterday killed about 50 students of the College of Agriculture at Gujba local government area of Yobe State.

A student of the college told our correspondent on phone that the attackers numbering about 200 stormed the college through bushes at about midnight, shooting sporadically and forcing them to flee.

The student added they killed students and lecturers of the college while many classes, administrative blocks, hostels, staff quarters and cars belonging to the college were also razed down.

Peter Yohanna, who escaped the attack, said that more than 100 students were still missing and that many bodies had been discovered from the bush, even as a search for more bodies was continuing.

Sources said that at least 60 students were killed by the insurgents. The attacks took place in the night when all students were sleeping at their various hostels.

Another student, John Bitrus, said: "We were sleeping when we heard loud gunshots everywhere. Before we understood what was going on, we saw over 30 Hilux vehicles while the gunmen started shooting in every direction. They shot over 40 on their heads and slaughtered eight students at the front of the school gate.

He said over 60 students were believed to have died in the school and many students were missing.

Confirming the attack, Yobe State spokesman, Special Operation Battalion, Damaturu, Captain Eli Lazarus, said that the attackers killed many students of the college, wounded others and burnt some of the buildings inside the college. "But I cannot tell you the exact casualties now. We are still receiving corpses now, " he said.

Last weekend, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members had sacked Benishek town in neighbouring Borno State, killing scores of people and burning hundreds of houses.

When contacted earlier, the commissioner of police, Yobe State command, Sanusi Ahmed Rufai, claimed that there was no casualty in the attack. According to him, "Not even a chicken was killed."

Speaking to journalists shortly after the incident, the chairman, Movement For Justice of Nigeria, Yobe State chapter, Mr Zakar Adamu, condemned the "brutal and uncivilised conduct" of members of the Joint Task Force (JTF)in Yobe State.

Jonathan condemns attack

President Goodluck Jonathan has condemned the attack by members of terrorist sect Boko Haram on a school in Yobe State that left more than 50 college students dead. He described the attack as an irrational action that cannot be justified along any line.

In a live radio and TV programme, "Presidential Media Chat", broadcast nationwide last night, the president stated: "I ask, why did you kill them? Is it based on ethnic sentiments? In that case, what ethnic groups did the students come from? Is it because you don't like the face of the president? If you kill them, has the president changed? Is it political? If it is, what party did those students belong? If it is a religious issue, then tell me their religion. Some people try to attribute the excesses of these miscreants to poverty. But can poor people buy AK 47 rifles? Can poor people buy surface to air missiles? Once you are confronted with these situations, sometimes you need courage to push ahead."

He said since after the declaration of state of emergency in some states, members of the sect have deliberately targeted weak spots like schools.

"After I declared a state of emergency, the crisis came down but after sometime now they have been looking at soft spots and local places where you will not expect them to hit, but we assure Nigerians that we will not compromise but will continue to do what is right for the benefit of the ordinary people," he stated.

The president also admitted that the government might have been compromised. He said, "Yes, it is possible. A judge was retired. A serving senator was tried over the issue. This does not mean that the whole government has been infiltrated by Boko Haram but there is a level of betrayal."

He said that oil theft is a big issue today because the authorities did not deal with it as at when due. He said, "It didn't start today. If the government had clamped down on it earlier, it wouldn't have snowballed to this level."

Speaking on insinuations that the country is bankrupt, President Jonathan said the country's economy is healthy

He said, "Sometimes, people play politics with serious issues. You can't just wake up to say Nigeria is bankrupt. There must be some parameter you use. You can't just wake up from your dream to say Nigeria is bankrupt."

He said foreign investment has increased in the country, stressing that if Nigeria were bankrupt they would remove their money. He said Nigeria has received favourable ratings from finance experts around the world.

He said there was no time the federal government ever had enough money to share to states.

Killings in parts of the north callous - Northern governors

Meanwhile, following renewed violence in the north-east of Nigeria, the Northern States Governors' Forum (NSGF) has urged security agencies to halt the senseless killings of defenceless citizens and attack on places of worship and educational facilities in the area.

The forum recalled that the north-east region had been witnessing several killings by the Boko Haram group since 2009 when it commenced acts of violence in the region, hence the urgent call to end the violence..

The chairman of the forum and Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu gave the charge yesterday as he expressed serious concern at what he described as "gruesome murder on Saturday of 38 students of the College of Agriculture, Gujba, Yobe State, as well as the killing of 15 persons in Zangang community in Kaura local government area of Kaduna State".

NGSF commiserated with the families of the victims and prayed God to grant eternal rest to the deceased and quick recovery to those who received injuries. The forum reiterated its pledge to continue to work with other tiers of government to bring an end to security challenges confronting the nation.

Search for Gujba attackers begin - JTF

The Joint Task Force in Yobe State has said that it has begun to search for the suspected Boko Haram members who were responsible for the Gujba attack in the state.

The spokesman of JTF in Yobe state said that the troops decided to go after the attackers to bring them to book. A politician in the state (name withheld) told the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that no fewer than 50 students' dead bodies were taken to Damaturu, the state capital.

Mass burial for 15 killed in Kaduna

The 15 people killed by unknown gunmen in the southern part of Kaduna State were yesterday given mass burial amid tears and sorrow.

Gunmen had on Saturday launched an attack on the community of Zangang in Kaura local government area of the state, killing 15 villagers and wounding many others.

Our correspondent who travelled to the village bordering Plateau and Kaduna states observed that hundreds of villagers, mostly women and children, were fleeing the village as sounds of gunshots were still heard from the neighbouring villages.

On arrival at the village at about 10am, after a covering the distance of about 300 kilometres from Kaduna, our correspondent heard sounds of gunshots from the thick forest and hills surrounding the remote village.

The sporadic shootings further caused panic before the arrival of armed military men who provided cover while the burial took place.

Rev. Friday of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Riyom in Plateau State, urged the people of the area to remain focused on God as He is going to fight their cause.

He however stated that the continued attack on the community is barbaric. "The people who carried out the attacks on the innocent people are animals and not human beings," he said. "The attacks are too much on the community. They want to push the people away."

A septuagenarian, Yakubu Iliya, whose wife and two children were killed, said he was now left alone in the world since the killing of his wife and children.

He said, "My wife and two grown-up children, both males, were killed. This is a sad situation for me and I have left everything to Almighty God."

Mr Crescentus Dogo, who narrowly escaped death, stated that "the gunmen came and started shooting and killed our people. We lost our people, homes and everything in this area. We have many orphans and widows in this village as a result of all these killings."

Independence Anniversary: Police beef up security

As part of deliberate efforts by the Nigeria Police Force to ensure a hitch-free Independence Day anniversary celebration, the inspector-general of police, Mohammed Abubakar, has placed officers and men as well as other special operatives on red alert nationwide.

In a press statement issued yesterday, the IGP specifically directed all zonal assistant inspectors-general of police, command commissioners of police including the maritime command to ensure adequate and effective deployment of all operational tools and manpower within their commands.

Also, Abubakar noted that special attention would be paid to shopping malls, public parks and beaches, highways and other critical infrastructure and sensitive areas in order to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of the citizenry.

He assured Nigerians that the police will do everything within available resources to discharge their constitutional and statutory responsibilities of providing safe and secure environment for all, particularly during this period.

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