Suspected armed bandits raided a school dormitory in Zamfara overnight, a teacher and parent told AFP on Friday, raising fears of another mass kidnapping in the Northern region. “More than 300 girls are unaccounted for after a headcount of remaining students,” said a teacher at the Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe who asked to remain anonymous.
He said the attack happened around 1:00 am (midnight GMT) but did not provide details on the number of students present in the school at the time.
A staff of the school, who begged for anonymity, said the bandits arrived in the school around 1am on Friday with Hilux vehicles and motorcycles and forcefully evacuated the students. He narrated that some of the bandits were in uniforms and pretended to be security personnel, then later broke into the students hostels and abducted more than 300 students.
“When they came into the school, we thought they were security personnel but to our utmost fear and dismay, they started putting the girls into Hilux vehicles and motorcycles then drove out of the school,” the source said, adding that the bandits were in the school for several hours without any challenge due to absence of the security agents.
A parent of one of the girls, who gave his name as Malam Lawal Jangebe, said, “I nearly fainted when I heard about the abduction of the students including my daughter.”
Heavily-armed criminal gangs known locally as “bandits” in northwest and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years, kidnapping for ransom, raping and pillaging. Just last week, 42 people were taken by a gang from a boys school in nearby Niger state.
Bandits operate out of camps in Rugu forest, which straddles Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states.
The gangs are largely driven by financial motives and have no known ideological leanings. But there are concerns they are being infiltrated by jihadists.
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, says many of the bandits terrorising the country were sponsored by persons who wanted to push former President Goodluck Jonathan out of power at all cost. Mailafia said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Thursday.
He said, “During the 2015 elections they brought in thousands of foreigners into this country, armed them because it was a case of if Goodluck Jonathan doesn’t surrender, there will be war. They were ready for civil war; they were not ready for peace.
Mailafia ... said he was also convinced that some foreign powers were behind the bandits. “There are certain world powers that want to destroy our country. That is what I believe. There was a container load of weapons that were brought in from Turkey. Another time some were brought in from Iran. But nobody probed further and everything was swept under the carpet and that was the end of it,”
He argued that appeasing the bandits would never work even as he said the Niger Delta militancy and the banditry ravaging the country are two different things.
“I do not believe that the Niger Delta militancy can be compared to the terrorists. These people (terrorists) are not even bandits. A bandit is a common thief or a brigand. The ‘agbero’ are bandits. These people carrying sophisticated weapons and rockets are not bandits. They are terrorists. They have killed, they have maimed, they have raped and they have wreaked havoc,”