Kebbi bandits overpowered 22 policemen to abduct students — Governor

Our Reporter 

Twenty-two policemen in gun battle with ‘hundreds of bandits’. That was the scenario at the Federal Government College, Yauri, Kebbi State when gunmen struck on Thursday night in the latest incident of mass abduction of students by rampaging gunmen in the Northwest.

A yet to be ascertained number of students were abducted along with their teachers during the raid, although some managed to escape a few hours later after the military and the Yansakai vigilance group launched a pursuit of the kidnappers.

Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State visited the school located 256 kilometres south of Birnin Kebbi, the state capital on Friday to assess the situation.

He told of how intelligence reports had reached the government about bandits’ movements around the school two weeks before the attack.

He said the state government immediately swung into action and got the security agencies involved to avert the attack.

Consequently, the state’s police command deployed 22 personnel from its special anti-terrorism task force to guard the school.

The police were, however, not a match for the bandits when they launched the raid, as the invaders simply overwhelmed the law enforcement agents, according to the governor.

Bagudu said: “This abduction was a brazen and tragic incident, where bandits confronted the policemen who were providing security to the school.

“Unfortunately, they made away with some students and teachers. It is an unfortunate incident.

“About two weeks ago, there was the news of bandits’ movement and they were sighted around this area.

“We consulted with the federal authorities here, who told us that the school had about two weeks to finish its terminal examinations.

“It was agreed that if security men could be stationed in the school, it was better to support the children to finish their examinations before going home.

“They (security men) were around even during the attack yesterday (Thursday). Unfortunately, they were overpowered, because on different accounts, the bad elements came in hundreds.”

The governor, who spoke to the parents of the abducted students, added: “These children are all ours and we are obliged to pray to seek for their safe return.

“I am glad that the parents who also spoke expressed courage.

“They have also acknowledged that the security agents did the best they could and they are still doing their very best.

“Equally, the school authorities, principal, teachers and other staff. By God’s grace, our children will come back to us.

“The state government will do everything humanly possible to bring these children and the staff back safely.

“Since this unfortunate incident occurred, all hands are on deck to ensure that our children and the staff are rescued alive, hale and hearty.

The principal of the college, Alhaji Yusuf, described the incident as unfortunate and the week “very sad for all of us.”

The State House of Assembly member representing the area, Adamu Muhammad Birnin Yauri, and the Chairman of Ngaski Local Government Area, Buhari Abdullahi, commended the governor for the sympathy visit and his quick response to the matter.

One of the parents told the governor that his visit had given her hope and inspiration that her abducted children would be rescued.

She appealed to other parents to fervently pray for the success of the rescue operation.

The governor also visited the Emir of Yauri, Dr. Zaiyanu Abdullahi, to sympathise with him over the abduction of the school children.

The emir commended the governor for placing priority on security matters.

Bagudu was also at the Yauri General Hospital where he sympathised with victims of the attack.

Scores of the bandits are believed to have been killed during a raid of their enclaves in the forests of Sakaba Local Government area of Kebbi State by soldiers who went after them soon after the attack on the school.

One of the abducted students was found dead during the military raid, although five other students and two of their teachers were rescued.

Soon after the Thursday attack on the school, security personnel, supported by Yansakai vigilance group members, went in pursuit of the bandits, raiding their hideouts in forests and villages located in the state and the neighbouring Niger State.

The raided enclaves include Uddu, Rijau, Sabon Gari Ushe and Warari.

Some suspected gang leaders were also arrested.

The bandits reportedly tried to resist the military attack but could not withstand the latter’s superior firepower.

Apart from those killed, some others were injured while the rest fled.

The Army, in its own account of the raid on the bandits’ enclaves, confirmed that troops of Operation Hadin Kai rescued two teachers and five of the abducted students.

It also said that one of the female students was found dead.

The Director Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said: “Nigerian Army troops operating under the auspices of Operation Hadarin Daji, who have been on hot pursuit of kidnappers and bandits following an unfortunate abduction incident in Federal Government College, Birnin Yawuri yesterday 17 June 2021, have so far rescued two teachers and five students after a fierce exchange of fire with the criminals.

“The rescue followed an initial encounter with the abductors in the early hours of today 18 June 2021, after trailing the kidnappers from Yawuri through Riyao to Sombo community where the kidnappers, who had split into two groups, fled with one group conveying the abducted children while the second group conveyed rustled cattle.

“The land troops in conjunction with elements of the Nigerian Air Force who provided close air support during the rescue mission intercepted the two groups at about 2.30 am and engaged them in a fire fight, leading to the successful rescue of the teachers and the students. The troops also recovered 800 cattle rustled by the bandits.

“The gallant troops are still on the heels of the kidnappers in order to rescue the remaining abductees still in captivity.

“Sadly, a casualty was recorded during the exchange. A female student was found to have given up the ghost as a result of exhaustion.

“The rescued teachers and students will be handed over to the Kebbi State Government.”

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