President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday came under the hammer of Northern elders and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) over weekend’s abduction of 333 students of the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.
While the elders lamented that the “President’s idea about insecurity has proved inadequate to deal with the threat to our lives and property,” the JNI said the schoolboys’ abduction by bandits amounted to a slap on Buhari’s face.
Also on Monday, the United Nations (UN) described the incident as “a violation of human rights” and urged the safe return of the children to their families.
Before the mass abduction, Katsina and other states in the Northwest had been under onslaught by bandits.
The 333 pupils were part of the 884 students that were in the school’s hostel when the bandits struck. Four hundred and twenty of them surfaced before the Minister of Defence, Gen. Bashiir Magashi, and Service Chiefs paid a sympathy visit to Governor Aminu Masari on Sunday.
The Northern elders, under the aegis of the Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD) , said in a statement by their National Coordinator, Zana Goni, and National Women Leader, Mario Bichi, that the attack on the students, further confirmed that the nation’s security architecture was in dire need of a total overhaul.
The group therefore, reiterated its call on Buhari to sack the service chiefs because “they are no more in charge of the security situation in the North and the entire country.”
It recalled that the National Assembly had also called for the removal of the service chiefs since their inability to stem the rising security challenges “was emboldening the adversaries in their increasing dastardly actions against the country.”
The CNEPD also suggested to the President to quickly “seek foreign help to avoid the extinction of the North through increasing mass killings of its people by the terrorists.”
According to the statement: “the latest attack on Government Science Secondary School confirms our position that our region is now at the mercy of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.
“As a result of this, we strongly believe that time has come for our President to bring in fresh hope and clear directions on how best the country will strategise to overcome the present insecurity situation in the country in general.
“At the boiling point, we have found ourselves today, we strongly believe that it will not be out of place to seek assistance in dealing with these threats from outside.
“We would say in the strongest possible terms that there can be no justification for the deliberate targeting of innocent school children.
“The service chiefs have lost the support of human, nature, and spirit and also exhausted their energies, ideas and capacities hence can no longer turn around the country’s security for good.
“President’s idea about insecurity has proved inadequate to deal with the threat to our lives and property. He “urgently needs change tactics and personnel in order to win the war against rising threats to the lives of Nigerians.”
The JNI said the boldness displayed by the bandits while carrying out the abduction of the students on the day the President arrived Katsina State was a slap on him.
The JNI, in a statement by its Secretary-General, Khalid Aliyu,called for a rejig of the security architecture since “there are insinuations that for pecuniary benefits, some top echelon among the security operatives don’t want the insecurity to end..”
The group implored Buhari to address the nation, instead of his administration: issuing “empty condemnations whenever tragedies strike.” It said: “How come the bandits took their time, gather the schoolboys, heaped them on bikes, and whisked them away without being rounded up by the security agencies? Mr. President needs to hearken to the call of Nigerians.
Revamp the security architecture and address the nation.
“This abduction in commando-style is one tragedy too many coming on the heels of the infamous Zabarmari massacre just not long ago.
“This indeed is a sad reminder of the abductions of Schoolgirls in Chibok and Dapchi of Borno and Yobe states of Northeast, and it’s an indicator that the powers that be don’t read the present through the spectacle of the past; this wouldn’t have happened.
“The Kankara abduction was so belligerently orchestrated that it happened the day Mr. President arrived in Katsina State on a private visit… This further proves what we once said that the bandits rule in many communities and do as they wish with impunity.”
The group prayed for the safe and urgent return of the missing pupils and commiserated with their families.