One of the abducted pupils of Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, Niger State, Zaynab Salle Boka, has revealed that bandits starve and manhandle the pupils in their captivity on a daily basis.
The 12-year-old, who escaped from captivity and is now on admission in a private hospital, Minna, gave an insight into the deplorable mental and health state of the children who, she said, are grouped in 30 each and underfed.
Zaynab said the pupils were moved almost every other day from one point to another, and that they hardly feed well.
She further disclosed that the children are usually flogged on the back and bottom to the extent that some of them can hardly sit or lie on their back, saying that most of the pupils were in that condition when she escaped.
On how she escaped the bandits, Zaynab said when the pupils were to be moved to another location, she stayed at the back and covered herself with dry leaves.
According to her, she walked in the bush for two days before a commercial motorcycle operator (popularly called Okada man) saw her near Pandogari axis of Rafi local government area and took her to the district head of the area.
Speaking further on the pupils’ ordeal, she said there were days they walked the whole day and were fed only once, along with constant flogging.
“We were grouped into 30 pupils with each group allocated a mudu (measure) of rice and sometimes two packs of Spaghetti (pasta). We always scramble for food after a long trek through the forest,” she said.
The headmaster of the Islamiyya School, Alhassan Garba Abubakar, told LEADERSHIP that the gory picture painted by Zaynab had further traumatised them as parents.
He said that he was not just the headmaster but a parent whose children were among those abducted.
“We are terrified, and boiling with anger also because we feel the authorities are not doing enough to help our cause for the safe release of the underage pupils,” he said.
Abubakar said even though the parents did not want a full security operation that will jeopardise the safety of the children, they want more practical steps from the authorities to urgently rescue the children.
“From what we gathered from her, 70 per cent of the children are sick. They are not in good condition to cope with the trekking as they are moved from one point to the other,” the headmaster said.
It is a month now that 136 Islamiyya pupils, aged between three and 12 years, were kidnapped from their school in Niger State by bandits who first demanded N200 million ransom and later reduced it to N150 million for their release.
One of the victims, a three-year-old girl, reportedly died of exhaustion after she could not keep pace with the abductors.
However, the Niger State government has insisted it will not pay ransom and lately said it had discovered the bandits’ hideout but was reluctant to attempt a rescue in order not to put the children at risk.
Bandits Kill Zamfara Lawmaker, Attack Ganduje’s Convoy
A member of the Zamfara House of Assembly, Hon Mohammed G. Ahmed, lost his life yesterday after bandits shot him head along Sheme-Funtua road in Katsina State.
His death was announced by the Clerk of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, Shehu Saidu Anka, who said Ahmed had been travelling on the road when he was intercepted and killed by bandits.
His funeral prayers would be performed at Sheikh Ahmed Umar kanoma mosque by 11 o’clock today in line with Islamic rites.
Until his death, the late Ahmed was the chairman, House Committee on Finance and Appropriation of the state assembly.
Sin a related development, the bandits also made an attempt of the Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje after some bandits attacked his convoy.
Kano State commissioner for information, Mohammad Garba, who confirmed the incidence, said the governor was on his way back from Zamfara State where he and other governors and party chieftains had gone to receive the state governor, Bello Matawalle, into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) following his defection from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Although the commissioner maintained that the governor was not in the convoy, it was gathered that Governor Ganduje escaped death as deadly bandits unleashed an attack on his convoy on their way back from Zamfara State.
A security source, who confirmed the incident, disclosed that three security personnel attached to the governor’s convoy sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Insecurity, A Threat To 2023 – INEC
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that if adequate measures are not taken to arrest the rising insecurity in the country, it could derail the 2023 election and plunge the country into a constitutional crisis.
LEADERSHIP reports that 2023 is a year of transition in Nigeria but the electoral body has warned that if it is unable to conduct the election as a result of insecurity, the country may run into constitutional problem.
Speaking at the 2021 annual Abubakar Momoh Memorial Lecture with the theme ‘Security and Elections: Implications for Anambra State Governorship and 2023 General Elections’ held yesterday at the Electoral Institute, Abuja, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said security is a critical issue that goes along with elections.
Prof Yakubu was represented by national commissioner and chairman, Board of Electoral Institute (BEI), Malam Mohammed Haruna.
“Elections can hardly be conducted where there is insecurity. Nigeria, as it is today, is facing myriads of security challenges, and these have affected all facets of our daily living, making lives very unbearable for so many citizens. Banditry, kidnapping and the activities of some dangerous elements in our society are posing serious challenges to our electoral and democratic processes,” he said.
“INEC, as an election management body (EMB), is seriously concerned about the challenge all these pose on the delivery of its mandate, which includes the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country.
“In this respect, there is reason to be especially concerned about the Anambra State Governorship Election and eventually the 2023 General Elections. To avoid any constitutional crisis, these elections must be conducted in line with the constitutional timelines. This means we must do everything to remove the insecurity or any other threat to the Commission’s commitment to the delivery of its mandate, hence the choice of the topic for this year’s lecture,” said the electoral boss.
Prof Yakubu noted that between the 2019 general elections and now, there have been attacks on 42 INEC offices in the country.
“We are, therefore, seriously concerned at the impact of this challenge when the physical appearance of registrants commences at the 2673 registration centres soon,” he said, adding that the challenge is more pronounced as the commission will deploy 5,345 workers to the 2,673 registration centres nationwide.
“Naturally, we are deeply concerned about their safety, even more than we are about the security of our property and materials. More immediately, we are equally concerned about the Anambra governorship election that is scheduled for November 6, 2021, especially following the attack on the head office in the state.
“The Commission, in collaboration with all stakeholders, is determined to tackle this challenge. Definitely, we cannot face it alone; this is why voter education and information, constant dialogue, community outreaches, deliberations and assessment for a, such as this public lecture, will continue. The Nigerian public must own the desire for democracy and peaceful conduct of elections,” Yakubu said in his speech shared at the venue of the programme.
The director-general (DG) of The Electoral Institute (TEI), Dr Sa’ad Umar Idris, said they are working hard to identify hotspots ahead of the elections using their technology.
“It’s not just about talking, but it’s about a workable solution for the election. In the Institute, we have what we call Elections Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool. This is a tool we have developed over time. We deploy it to the field, gather data – both general and specific data – and analyse it. In Anambra, we will deploy that tool and, of course, in the 2023 general election, we are going to deploy it. The tool will tell us where there is likely to be violence.
“So, it is not about theory. It is about a workable solution to our election problems. We have what we call Election Risk Management using the same tool and we share the data, not within the commission, but also with security agencies, CSOs and even the media to alert the general public on possible violent areas and how it (violence) can be mitigated,” Idris added.
TEI, which is the research and training wing of INEC, organised the annual memorial lecture in honour of its late colleague, Professor Abubakar Momoh, who passed away on May 29, 2017.