By Tom Chiahemen (ABUJA) –
The growing insecurity in Nigeria assumed a more frightening dimension today as armed bandits boldly invaded the nation’s foremost military institution in the northern part of the country, killing two officers and abducting one.
Authorities of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, have already issued an official statement confirming that gunmen attacked the institution Tuesday morning by gaining access into the Academy, which is located in the Afaka area of Kaduna.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the Academy, Major Bashir Muhammedd Jajira, “the security architecture of the Nigerian Defence Academy was compromised early this morning by unknown gunmen who gained access into the residential area within the Academy in Afaka.”
“During the unfortunate incident, we lost two personnel and one was abducted,” Major Jajir said in the statement.
He said the Academy, in collaboration with the 1Division Nigerian Army and Air Training Command as well as other security agencies in Kaduna state had since commenced “pursuit of the unknown gunmen within the general area with a view to tracking them and rescue the abducted personnel.”
Major Jajira, who said the NDA community and Cadets were safe in the Academy, assured the general public that the unknown gunmen would soon be apprehended and the abducted personnel rescued.
This is about the sixth time in seven months that armed bandits have carried out mass abduction in Kaduna in the wake of the breakdown of security in the North-west and North-central regions of the country, which has led to a surge in kidnapping and banditry.
No fewer than 307 students were rescued when bandits attacked Government Science Secondary School, Ikara in Kara Local Government Area in Kaduna, in the early hours of March 14.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, had confirmed the attack, saying “307 students were rescued unhurt” by troops who foiled the attempted kidnap.”
Aruwan said: “Between the late hours of Saturday night and the early hours of today, suspected bandits stormed the Government Science Secondary School, Ikara, Ikara local government area, in an attempt to kidnap students.
Three students of the Greenfield University in Kaduna State who were abducted by bandits suspected to be kidnappers have been killed by their abductors.
The students were among those that were abducted by bandits from the private university located along the Kaduna- Abuja highway in the night of April 20.
Eyewitnesses had said the gunmen stormed the university and started shooting sporadically, before taking some of the students away.
The locals said that the university with about forty students population does not have enough security on the ground, despite being located in one of the epicenters of kidnapping, a situation which they believe made it easier for the bandits to gain easy access into the institution.
Early last month, some armed bandits attacked Bethel Secondary School, Maramara in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, abducting an unspecified number of students.
The bandits, who broke into the premises of the missionary school in the early hours of July 5, 2021, shooting sporadically, were later confirmed to have kidnapped 121 pupils.
On July 25, 2021, the abductors freed some of the students after obtaining a ransom of N50 million ($100,000), and later released a few others due to health concerns, while some escaped on their own.
The state police command’s spokeswoman, Mr Mohammed Jalige, confirmed the students’ release but did not disclose whether the parents had paid the ransom.
The bandits have made fresh a demand of N80 million (about $160,000) ransom to release the remaining students.
The freed students were handed over to their excited parents at the Baptist Secretariat on Ahmadu Bello Way in Kaduna by the president of Baptist Convention, Rev Israel Akanji, who was optimistic that the remaining students would be released soon.
Before then, dozens of students were abducted by armed bandits from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Kaduna State on April 20 2021.
Also in July, gunmen suspected to be bandits abducted babies from the residential quarters of the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Five staff of the hospital, including female nurses, were also abducted, according to a report by Daily Trust.
The bandits, who were said to have stormed the place in large numbers, engaged officers from a nearby police station in a gun battle.
The attacks and abductions are not restricted to Kaduna alone.
In May, suspected bandits reportedly launched an attack on a local community in Katsina, the home state of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, abducting at least 40 worshippers from a mosque.
The bandits were said to have attacked the Yakin Kwata community in Jibiya Local Government Area of Katsina state in the early hours of today during the Laylatul Qadr prayer.
Laylatul Qadr, the Night of Decree or Night of Power, is one of the most sacred nights in the Islamic calendar. It takes place in the last ten days of Ramadan and was the night in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
The activities of the bandits and terrorists in the Northern part of Nigerian have posed a serious threat not just to education but also food production.
President Buhari had in May pledged his administration’s resolve to use all available resources and manpower in dealing with bandits to ensure that they did not create havoc against access to farms and food production in the coming growing season.
Buhari, who made the pledge on May 13 at the State House, Abuja, had emphatically said that the menace of bandits and kidnappers would be addressed to ensure that the nation’s food security is not threatened.
“The law enforcement agencies are working hard to regain confidence against bandits, so that we can go back to the land. This is very important. This is what the agencies are busy doing right now. We want people to go back to the land so that we can get enough food for the country and even export,” he was quoted to have told journalist shortly after observing the Eid prayer, marking the end of the month-long Ramadan fast.
Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, recently advanced reasons for the inability of the armed Forces to defeat bandits, Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists in the country.
According to General Irabor, the major reason for this situation is that the Nigerian government did not train its soldiers to fight asymmetric warfare.
The explanation came amid worsening insecurity in Nigeria, with armed bandits abducting hundreds of school children and students in the northern part of the country, just as Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists continued to attack communities, killing dozens of people.
General Irabor who made the statement on May 9, 2021 at a dinner held in honour of officers of the Senior Course 43 of Command and Staff College Jaji, Kaduna, however assured that the armed forces were developing new capabilities essential in tackling the security challenges across the country.
A few days ago, bandits released 15 out of the remaining 80 of the 123 pupils kidnapped from Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna State after 48 days in captivity.
The 15 students were released on the night of August 21, while 65 more remain in the hands of the robbers who have been demanding for money.
Rev John Hayab, the Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in North-West Nigeria, confirmed the students’ release.