Parents of the abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna State, have been left devastated after news filtered in on Friday that the kidnappers had killed three of the students.
In a related development, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union on Friday alleged that no fewer than 65 Adara villagers in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state were abducted by gunmen on Tuesday.
Greenfield University, which is privately owned, is located along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway in Kasarami, Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
Gunmen had reportedly kidnapped 23 students of the university on Tuesday night, killing a staff member during a shooting spree.
The bandits later made contact with the parents and demanded a ransom of N800m for the students’ release.
Sadly, on Friday, the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, broke the news of the killing of three of the students by the bandits.
He said in a statement that the students’ remains were found close to the university on Friday.
The murdered students were two females and a male.
Aruwan said, “In an act of mindless evil and sheer wickedness, the bandits who kidnapped students of Greenfield University have shot dead three of the abducted students.
“The remains of three students were found today (Friday) in Kwanan Bature village, a location close to the university, and have been evacuated to a mortuary by the Commissioner, Internal Security and Home Affairs (Aruwan), and the Force Commander, Operation Thunder Strike, Lt Col MH Abdullahi.”
Aruwan said the state Governor Nasir El-Rufai mourned and condemned the students’ killing and described it as “sheer wickedness, inhumanity, and an outright desecration of human lives by vile entities.”
Aruwan quoted El-Rufai as saying the bandits represented the worst of humankind and must be fought at all costs for the violent wickedness that they represented.
However, some parents of the abducted students have been left traumatised following the development on Friday, expressing panic over the fate of the remaining students.
The parents said the bandits were insisting on collecting N800m ransom before releasing the remaining students.
One of the parents, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity, said they met with the management of Greenfield University on Thursday and agreed on “collective bargaining.”
“We met on Thursday with the school authorities. We agreed on collective bargaining. We don’t know what went wrong. The bandits are still insisting on the N800m ransom that they earlier demanded,” the parent said.
Another parent who also spoke on condition of anonymity said the bandits insisted on collecting the full ransom, adding that the failure to pay it must have led to the killing of the three students.
“It’s unfortunate that the state is still insisting on not having anything to do with the negotiations even when lives are involved,” the parent said, adding that the bandits had vowed to kill the remaining students should the parents fail to pay the ransom or attempt to use force to free the students.
Meanwhile, perturbed by the news of the killing of the three students, some parents of the abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry, Kaduna, also expressed panic on Friday, calling on the international community to intervene.
Gunmen had on March 11 abducted 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Mando, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Ten of the students have been released by their captors, while 29 remain in captivity.
A parent of one of the abducted students who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity expressed fear and frustration, saying their hope only rested on God at the moment.
“We are looking unto God,” the frustrated parent said on the telephone, asking, “What else do you want me to say?”
Another parent, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, urged the international community to wade into the matter for their children to be freed.
The parent said, “We heard what happened (the killing of the three Greenfield University students). We are really concerned about the situation at hand.
“We are worried that if care is not taken, what befell those students may happen to our children. We are not praying for that, though.
“It is based on this that we are calling on well-meaning Nigerians, the state and federal governments, as well as the United Nations, to save the situation.
“We, in particular, call on the United Nations to prevail on the Nigerian government to do the needful in order to save our children from these bandits. We are calling on the international community to do something and not just watch what is happening in Kaduna State.”
SOKAPU alleges gunmen kidnap 65 Adara villagers in Southern Kaduna
Meanwhile, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union has alleged that about 65 Adara villagers in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state were abducted by gunmen on Tuesday.
The union said among those abducted were the Village Head of Libere, Mr Bala Yero, his wives, and 16 others.
SOKAPU spokesman, Luka Binniyat, in a statement on Friday, said the bandits invaded the village at about 11 pm on Tuesday and shot indiscriminately, kidnapping victims.
Binniyat, however, said that 10 of the victims were able to escape the following day.
The statement read, “For reasons not clear to SOKAPU, Kaduna State government did not include in its daily security update the abduction of 65 Adara villagers from Libere Gari Village, Kallah ward, Kajuru Local Government Area in the southern part of Kaduna State on Tuesday night by persons identified by the villagers as armed Fulani militia.
“The gunmen, who arrived at the village around 11 pm, went about shooting in the air to scare villagers as they captured their victims from compound to compound. They spent two hours unchallenged. The kidnappers have yet to make contact with family members as of Friday.”
Nigerians outraged at students’ death
Following the killing of the students, Nigerians took to social media on Friday, simultaneously expressing grief and outrage at the incident.
The citizens asked the government to fix the problem of widespread insecurity in the country.
A Twitter user, Ani Chris, said, “My heart goes out to the families of the three students of Greenfield University Kaduna murdered by their criminal abductors. The death of these lads would have been avoided had the federal and Kaduna State governments prioritised the security of lives and property.”
Also, Taha Adam, tweeted, “I’m saddened by the death of three students of Greenfield University Kaduna. We keep saying the sole responsibility of any responsible government is to secure the lives and property of its citizens! We can’t continue like this. This is sad!”
Grace John also tweeted, “One Nigeria is scary…For how long would we continue to bear this pain? Nigerians are being killed every day under Buhari’s government.”
Another Twitter user with the handle @Mouna_Boo asked, “Please I need you all to pray for me and my family. My cousin was also kidnapped at Greenfield University. I’m so angry right now…What sort of life is this?”
Facebook user, Santos Felix wrote, “This is evil and wicked, yet Buhari is talking without any real solutions. May their souls rest in peace.”
Olu Philipa also wrote on Facebook, “Hmmm! So schooling in Nigeria nowadays is taking a huge risk? What is really happening? Innocent youths are dying and it does not call for concern!”
Similarly, Facebook user Henry Oweka wrote, “This is alarming! Our government and leaders have woefully failed us. May they (the students) rest in peace.”
Another Facebooker Toyin Adejuwon wrote, “How long are we going to stop these killings? No one is safe. Nigeria was not like this before. What an era! May God console the affected families.”
Kaduna State is among the northern states ravaged by frequent incidents of kidnapping and banditry.
However, the state has a policy of not paying ransom to kidnappers as the governor, El-Rufai, says it encourages more kidnappings.
Banditry now war situation, govt should cooperate –Gumi
Reacting to the students’ murder, Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, on Friday said the incident had underscored his position that bandits were now at war with the nation.
He said the only way forward was for the government to take his advice and grant amnesty to the bandits for them to lay down their arms.
Speaking with one of our correspondents on the phone, Gumi, who was involved in the process that led to the release of students abducted by bandits in Katsina and Niger states, said he was helpless in the case of Kaduna State because the state government had not shown any readiness to negotiate with the bandits.
Gumi, who is from Kaduna State, said the only way he could intervene as he did in Niger and Katsina states was for El-Rufai to reconsider his stance against negotiation with bandits.
He said, “The situation is becoming dire and I need the government’s support before I can do anything, and I think there is a great misunderstanding and poor reading of the situation on the ground. So, I’m really helpless; I don’t know what actually I can do as of now.”
On the students’ killing, Gumi said, “Honestly speaking, it is very unfortunate. There is an ethnic war going on, and I have been saying it. It is a war but if we don’t want to accept that it is a war, we will continue to suffer.
“You cannot predict the behaviour of people who are like that; this is the unfortunate thing and it is the common man that suffers. The way forward is for the government to listen to us, because those people (bandits) are ready to listen to us. If the government will cooperate and listen to us, I think there will be peace but we are finding it difficult to get the government’s attention.”
Likening the situation to the Iran-Iraq war, Gumi added, “We are in a war situation. As we are talking now, they (military) are dropping bombs on them (bandits). You cannot protect your children and you are dropping bombs on the enemies!
“You remember the Iran-Iraq war when they were bombing Baghdad and Tehran and they didn’t care about the civilians. When young girls (and boys) are killed like that, you should know that it is not just criminality, it is beyond criminality, it is a war.”
“There is a lot we can offer but we need the government to cooperate,” Gumi added.
PDP, ACF, CNG condemn students’ killing
The Peoples Democratic Party; pan-Northern sociopolitical organisation, Arewa Consultative Forum; and the Coalition of Northern Groups have similarly condemned the murder of three of the abducted students of the university.
The PDP asked the Federal Government to invoke every process permissible within the laws of the country to apprehend the assailants, secure the release of the remaining abducted students and those of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement on Friday, said, “The PDP laments that the bleeding of our nation is approaching a Class IV haemorrhage and urges President Muhammadu Buhari to allow for the rejigging of our security system to guarantee state and community policing in our country.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said the university students’ killing was a sad moment for the region.
“This is a sad moment for the North. It’s sheer madness. What do these bandits really want? Look at how backward the North is in terms of education. People established educational institutions and the same northerners kidnapped and killed student. It’s very sad.”
Likewise, the CNG Spokesman, AbdulAzeez Suleiman, said the students’ murder confirmed the lack of government’s will to secure citizens’ lives and property.
“Beyond this obvious failure, we also see Governor El-Rufai’s utterances as unhelpful in this situation. It’s not quite healthy for a government to boast where people’s lives are at stake.
“An idle leader is one who should know when to keep on fighting and when to beat a retreat. For El-Rufai to persist in such bravado is certainly unproductive and is costing the state,” Suleiman said.
Presidency downplays killings, says Buhari unfairly blamed
Amid the banditry attacks and killings, the Presidency on Friday said killings in the country were not new, adding that it was unfortunate that the media was presenting them as such.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Friday barely hours after the killing of three abducted students of Greenfield University, Kaduna.
Shehu said a glance at old newspapers would reveal that insecurity had been rife in the country since the 1960s.
He said when killings happen, everything is blamed on the President while governors and local government chairmen are left off the hook.
Responding to a question, Shehu said, “I think there is a determination by some people to make security the narrative that would lead to the next elections in 2023. We are sad, we are not happy people are killing one another but the way it is being reported is to suggest to you that it has never happened.
“The other day, I was holding a newspaper to an audience. The New Nigerian Newspaper reported the kidnapping of 20 on November 7, 1966 in the Mid-West. If something like that happens today, it will be reported as if there had never been an incident like that in the history of this country.
“And Buhari – not any other person – not the local council chairman, or governor, Buhari is responsible. So, we know the game in town.”
Meanwhile, the Plateau State government has called on security agents to improve on the protection of the citizens’ lives and property.
The state Commissioner for Information, Dan Manjang, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Jos on Friday while reacting to the killing of the three Greenfield University students.
Manjang, who described the incident as sad and callous, said the situation must not be allowed to continue.
“As a state government, we are saddened by the situation and we are calling on the security agents to up their game to protect Nigerians.
“We are also calling on the people to be united and support the efforts of the government to rid the country of banditry and other forms of insecurity because we cannot continue this way,” he said.