Nigeria: Afaka 39 - Kaduna Govt, Parents of Kidnapped Students On War Path

Nigerian schoolboys (file photo).
6 April 2021

Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and parents of the 39 kidnapped students of Federal Government's Collège of Forestry and Merchanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, are currently on war path over the continued stay of the students in kidnappers' den.

The students were kidnapped three weeks ago by bandits who are expecting the state government to pay ransom to secure their release.

But Governor El-Rufai has insisted that his government would not pay any ransom, alleging that proceeds of abduction was being used to fund Boko Haram, insisting his government would not negotiate with bandits.

But parents of the students lamented that they had not received any empathy or assurance from the state government, saying they would do everything possible to secure the release of their children.

Five of the students were, however, rescued by the military yesterday, according to Kaduna State government.

But Governor El-Rufai, who spoke as guest on Channels Television's "Sunday Politics" programme on Sunday night, said: "It has been established that the kidnapping operations (by bandits) are substantially funding Boko Haram activities in the North East.

"Boko Haram has no way of getting any money and some of them have slipped and joined the ranks of the bandits, and together they are doing this to raise a large amount of money that are being used to fund the intensified operations of Boko Haram."

The governor decried that banditry and insurgency had evolved with time into what he described as a business and a structured industry.

He explained that this was so as the criminals now have various specialised roles within their ranks which enabled them to attack communities.

Governor El-Rufai listed such roles to include informants, petrol suppliers, trucks suppliers, foods suppliers, suppliers of weapons and ammunition, and doctors who treat insurgents who sustain bullet wounds during attacks.

He stressed that there was no way Boko Haram could gather money to fund their operations in the North East without the help of bandits in the North West.

According to him, a branch of the Islamic State in West Africa Province, ISWAP, a splinter of the Boko Haram sect, is assembling in the forest in Birnin Gwari Local Government of Kaduna State.

He, however, stated that the leader of the group had been arrested, adding that a lot of his commanders had been killed in military airstrikes.

Asked if the bandits could be tagged as terrorists, Governor El-Rufai said: "Absolutely, no doubt about it. This is a position we have held in Kaduna State as far back as two and half years ago.

"We insisted that these are insurgents, they are terrorists; they are fighting the sovereignty of Nigeria and we must treat them as such.

"The bulk of the money is going into terrorist financing; there is a branch of ISWAP called Ansaru that is congregating in the forest in Birnin Gwari, land their objectives are very similar to Boko Haram, except that they are not against western education."

The governor said bandits and kidnappers were targeting his state because of his administration's non-resilient stance not to negotiate with them.

He said: "The bandits and their leaders decided to target Kaduna State because of the position we've taken that we would not negotiate with them. We will not give them a penny of tax payers' money. And whoever comes to Kaduna with the purpose of kidnapping will most likely end up dead.

"We believe the immediate solution to this problem is to intensify the military operations from the air and on the ground and wipe all of them out. I do not think any bandit deserves to live. "We have made that very clear to the security agencies and I am very pleased that the Chief of Air Staff has continued the bombardment of bandits' camps in Niger, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Zamfara states and the bandits are on the run.

"I think, with the blocking force on the ground from the military, police, we will get rid of these bandits in a matter of weeks by the grace of God. But we know is going on very well.

"We commiserate with those that have lost loved ones but the solution is not to put your personal interest ahead of public interest and what is in the public interest is to ensure that you don't empower your enemies by giving them money to buy more advanced weapons so that they cause greater danger not only to our troops but also the larger society."

The governor, who further said the solution to the nation's security problem was partly state police, added: "We are working on that. An action is being taken. I am happy to recall to you that the bill to amend the constitution on state policing has already passed second reading.

Meanwhile, parents of the 39 students kidnapped at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Kaduna State, have said they would never abandon their children and would do whatever they could to get them back.

The parents described as callous statement credited to Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs that whoever negotiate for the kidnapped students would be prosecuted, alleging that the government had shown no concern about the trauma they had been enduring.

Mr.Sam Kambai, Chairman of the aggrieved parents and Comrade Sanni Friday, the Secretary, told journalists in Kaduna yesterday that it was now 25 dreary and excruciatingly difficult days since their children had been in captivity.

They stated: "We have not received any words of empathy or assurance from government nor have we seen any action to inspire confidence that something is being done to secure the safe release of our children.

"For the record, the governor of Kaduna State has never addressed the parents of these students from the first day of the incident until now. They have shown no concern about the trauma the parents have been enduring.

"After we organised a peaceful protest during which we addressed a press conference on March 22, 2021, we got audience with a government official where they stated categorically that Kaduna State Government will not negotiate with bandits for release of the students.

"We were clear that as parents, we cannot sit by and do nothing and that we would do everything within our capacity to ensure the safe release of our children. It was on that note that we left the meeting.

"We wish to reiterate that we will do everything within our powers, everything humanly possible, with the help of God, to ensure our children do not perish.

"First and foremost due to the failure of government to live up to its primary responsibility of securing life and property that we have this ugly development in our hands.

"For government not to do everything to secure the release of the students 25 days after their abduction, and for government to keep the parents in the dark as to what it is doing, if any at all, smacks of gross insensitivity."

However, the military informed the Kaduna State government yesterday evening that five of the many kidnapped students were rescued on Monday afternoon.

Samuel Aruwan ,Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State, said the five students were currently in a military facility undergoing thorough medical check-up.

The parents observed with disappointment that in the Easter message by the governor, there was no mention whatsoever of the students or any assurance of what government was doing to ensure their release.

"For us it was a confirmation of our fear that the government has abandoned our children. We can never abandon our children and we will do whatever we can to see that we get them back."

" Furthermore, we read in the media the statement credited to the Commissioner of Internal Security, Mr Samuel Aruwan, to the effect that anyone who negotiates the release of the students will be prosecuted.

"For us, the statement is unfortunate and another demonstration of callousness on the part of the government. We have been beaten, and we are now forced not to cry. We are the parents of these children and if their lives mean nothing to the government, they mean everything to us."

"Recall that the father of one of the abducted parents, Mallam Ibrahim Shamaki, passed on due to shock upon receiving the news of the kidnap of his daughter and her continued stay in captivity.

"Many parents have come down with high blood pressure as well. May the soul of Mallam Ibrahim Shamaki rest in peace and we pray for quick recovery of those who are ill on account of this development.

"We do not want to lose more parents, and since government has shown us no empathy nor communicated to us on the fate of our children, we will not resign to fate by doing nothing. We will continue to do our best until we have our children back.

"Therefore, we are not intimidated by the threat of prosecution. We call on all Nigerians and the international community to support us in our efforts for the safe return to us of our children soonest," they said.

However, the military informed the Kaduna State government yesterday evening that five of the many kidnapped students were recovered on Monday afternoon.

Samuel Aruwan ,Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Kaduna State, said the five students were currently in a military facility undergoing thorough medical check-up.

"The Kaduna State government will provide updates on further operational feedback to be received on this case," he said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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