Despite assurances by the police authorities that the Abuja is safe, private schools in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, yesterday, hurriedly shut down their activities over fear of possible attack by kidnappers.
LEADERSHIP learnt that some schools hurriedly sent their students home when news got to them over 200 unidentified men suspected to be bandits were dropped by a truck in Sabon Wuse area of Niger State, a border town with Bwari, Abuja.
A source told LEADERSHIP that some private schools closed their schools with instructions to student to remain at home till further notice.
Some parents who do not want their identities revealed told our correspondent that the schools gave the instructions on various group WhatsApp platforms of the schools.
LEADERSHIP gathered that in the last two weeks, over ten persons have been kidnapped in Bwari area council with ransom of about N10million paid to secure their release.
Last week, about seven persons were kidnapped in Sabon Fulani area of the council and about N5 million ransom was said to have been paid.
According to residents, the fear was heightened following the report that over 200 unknown persons were dropped from a truck in Sabon Wuse area.
A parent who spoke to LEADERSHIP said, “We were asked to come for our children in their school before the time they were supposed to close for the day.
”I don’t know if they will be going to school tomorrow because we are still waiting for further directives from their school group WhatsApp platform”, the parent, who does not want her identity revealed said.
Another parent told LEADERSHIP that there was specific instruction for students to remain at home until further notice from the school authorities.
”My children came back home before the usual closing hour. When I enquired, the school said there were reports that kidnappers had surrounded Bwari area council and they (school authorities) do not want to be responsible for any kidnapped student, hence the closure of the school.
”As we speak, the school has been shut down indefinitely,” he said.
Some of the schools in Bwari area council that sent their students home yesterday for fear of possible attacks by kidnappers include De-Goopherwood Montessori School (close to Nigerian Law School), Glorious Bright School, Tundun Fulani and Asusi International School.
A parent, who has children at Glorious Bright School said she got a call from the school management to come and pick their children before the normal closing hour for fear of attacks by kidnappers. Another parent who has children at De-Goopherwood Montessori School also confirmed that his children closed before the normal closing hour.
According to her, the students were asked to go home after information got to them that there is a likelihood of a breach of security in Bwari.
LEADERSHIP learnt that Veritas University, in Bwari, has been closed down and students sent home.
According to a senior lecturer of the school, who said she was not authorised to speak with journalist, ”The school was shut this morning by the vice chancellor. ‘We received a circular that everyone should vacate the school by 11am today (yesterday). ”
She said the students had been on holiday since last week but the academic staff and other staff were still going to school before the circular was sent out.
”Though the students were on holiday, we were still going to school until we got a circular today (yesterday) from the office of the Vice Chancellor that everyone should leave the campus”, the source said.
Another polytechnic in the area also sent its student out of the hostel.
A 200-level student of Dorben Polytechnic, Bwari, told LEADERSHIP that the school authorities issued a circular asking the students to vacate the hostels and that henceforth they will holding lectures online.
The student who studies public administration at the polytechnic said all the student promptly complied with the directive and quit the hostels.
About three days ago, the FCT Police Command faulted information that the territory was under possible the attack of Boko Haram terrorists. The command had, in a press statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Yusuf Mariam, said, “The attention of the FCT Joint Security Team has been drawn to a viral publication in the social media purporting that the ‘Federal Capital Territory is under the attack of Boko Haram Terrorists’.
”The Joint Security Team of the FCT wishes to refute the mischievous publication targeted at creating palpable tension amongst the well-spirited residents of the FCT.”
Meanwhile, following the social media report of invasion of Bwari axis of the FCT by suspected Boko Haram terrorist, bandits or kidnappers, the Nigeria Police have said they monitoring the situation.
Though the spokesperson of the police and the FCT PRO did not comment on the issue, a reliable senior police officer, who pleaded anonymity, told LEADERSHIP that the police management had deployed tactical teams which are monitoring the situation, but that there is no cause for alarm.
According to the source, the situation is very critical and the police are not taking it lightly.
There were reports on social media of invasion of Bwari by a group numbering about 800.
This led to report of closure of schools around the area fearing abduction as has been the case in recent times.
Parents and family members of the kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State can now heave a sigh of relief after they were released by their abductors yesterday.
According to the chairman of the parents committee, Malam Abdullahi Usman, 27 of the students who were in the captivity of the abductors were released unharmed.
He said two of the students had escaped on the day they were abducted but that the parents chose to keep mute in other not to jeopardize the chances of securing the release of the remaining students.
Earlier, 10 of the students were released in two batches of five each after it was reported that ransom was paid.
When asked whether ransom was paid for the release of the 27 students, Usman declined to speak on it, stressing that the parents worked tirelessly, including reaching out to prominent persons to assist towards their release.
“We are indeed thankful to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Kaduna-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Gumi among others for their roles towards the eventual release of the students.
“We also thank the journalists who helped to publicise our cries and worries, and Nigerians who encouraged and prayed with us for the safe release of our children. We are indeed grateful and pray that God will bless them all,” he said.
The parents of the students had on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly in Abuja to protest the continued holding of their children in captivity and government’s apparent indifference over their abduction.
The students, 39 in all, comprising of 23 females and 16 males, were abducted on March 11, 2021 from their school premises. Two of the students were said to have escaped from their abductors leaving 37 of the students, out of which ten of them were released before the final release of the balance of 27.
Meanwhile, the students were taken straight to the Kaduna Police command headquarters in two 18-seater buses, accompanied by an ambulance and nurses.
They looked emancipated and one of them could hardly work and had to be helped and later rushed to the hospital.
In a short address, the Commissioner Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs Samuel Aruwan, who spoke to newsmen at the police headquarters in company of the police commissioner, said details will be given about the students today.
“Yes we can confirm that the students have been released as you can see, but details will be made available on Thursday. They will be taken for proper medical checkup now,” he said.
Meanwhile the state government has confirmed that the Police Command had reported the release of the remaining students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in Kaduna State.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the release of the 27 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, near Kaduna and congratulates their friends, families and the government and people of Kaduna State following the happy end to the saga.
“We are happy they have been released,” says the President.
“We express our deep appreciation to all the actors who contributed one way or the other to this happy outcome,” President Buhari said in a statement by his media aide,Garba Shehu, yesterday.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday called on the federal government to stop payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits, saying the practice is currently fueling the problem of insecurity in the country.
Obasanjo spoke while hosting members of the Tiv Professionals Group (TPG) led by Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu who visited him at his Pent House residence located within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He urged the Federal Government to evolve a more effective means of tackling insecurity, particularly the menace of kidnapping and other banditry currently ravaging the country rather than paying ransom to the bandits.
Obasanjo specifically advocated for a, “carrot and heavy stick” approach to fighting insecurity in Nigeria to a standstill, emphasizing that paying ransom to kidnappers further go a long way at encouraging banditry to flourish.
He also declared that those beating drums of division in Nigeria never meant well about the interest of the minority ethnic groups in the country.
Obasanjo told the YPG that leaders across all divides in the country must ensure the year 2023 general election birth the emergence of a new federation in Nigeria failure of which he said the country could be “sliding into ground dissolution”.
Obasanjo, who bemoaned security challenges, said he does not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and banditry as it encouraged criminals indulging in the act.
He specifically noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and that of his predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan had paid ransom to kidnappers and bandits, but denied it.
The former president however, insisted that the year 2023 general election must mark a watershed for Nigeria.
“I do believe that whatever else we do we have to make the year 2023 a watershed for Nigeria. The year 2023 should give us the beginning of emergence of a new federation or feeling that the rot continues and then, we are going to be sliding back to ground dissolution. God forbid”, the former President said.
“Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly. This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it.
“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration), they paid ransom, but they denied it”.
“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group. But is there hope? There is hope”.
Presenting a paper earlier, leader of the group, Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu told Obasanjo that, “blood is flowing in Benue State” following killings of the people allegedly by Fulanis and bandits.
He said people are being maimed in their sleep and on their ancestral land, calling on Obasanjo and other influential Nigerians to rise to the occasion to stem the tide of killings.
While alleging skewed security architecture, Gundu said “Nigeria seems to be losing the battle against insecurity.
He, however, demanded that full compensation for the victims of killings and destruction in Tivland, proscription of armed Fulani groups, while “land grabbing must stop and all occupied lands must be vacated.”
Gundu also called for intensified advocacy against nomadic pastoralism and hosting “all Nationalities Summit” where issues would be discussed with a view to finding lasting solutions.
“There are different shades of instability in the country. Nigeria is truly bleeding to death. There’s even a population fault-line which could lead to the ‘Lebanon Trap’
“All Patriots must stand together; but if others have to be enslaved before the country can survive, we will prefer, as Tiv people, to take our destiny in our hands.”
In another development, the spokesperson of the Department of State Services, Dr Peter Afunanya, has denied report of the service arresting Fr Ejike Mbaka.
According to him when asked if Fr Mbaka was in their custody, he said, “This is not true. Fr Mbaka was not picked up by the DSS. Rev Fr Mbaka is not with the DSS. The DSS did not pick him up, please.”
There was anxiety in Enugu after the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide (OYC) raised the alarm over the whereabouts of Fr Mbaka.
The spiritual director of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Mbaka later resurfaced after he was declared ‘missing.’ But the cleric returned to Enugu around 2pm and came out of his vehicle to the joy of his supporters.
Mbaka has been in the news after he asked President Muhammadu Buhari to resign or be impeached for failing to secure the nation and provide jobs for the youths.
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