Niger state government says it has arrested “some armed bandits” that behind the abduction of about 200 pupils of the, Salihu Tanko Islamic (Islamiyya), school in Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
Though the exact number of the arrested armed bandits was not made public as at the time of filing this report, the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Muhammad Ketso, said ‘some of the bandits are in our custody’.
Speaking shortly after presiding over security meeting that lasted close to two hours at the Government House,Minna, the Deputy Governor told journalists that the security agents were on trail of the armed bandits with a view to rescuing the pupils.
While ruling out payment of any form of ransom, the Deputy Governor assured that the abducted children would be rescued unhurt and safe,the same way the Kagara Science School boys were rescued.
He said, “We don’t pay ransom to abductors. All we are doing is trying to negotiate, to see how we can bring them back and be re-united with their families safely”.
“First of all, we are trying to get in touch with parents of the abducted children because, traditionally, some of them came from other states to acquire Islamic knowledge. The government does not know their parents nor where those ones came from”.
“We are still taking the census of the children to know the exact numbers that were actually abducted. Nevertheless, the state government will do everything possible to ensure their safe rescue”.
Ketso, who admitted that the abductors of the pupils took the government unawares, further said that due to the incessant attacks on schools, the state government had taken proactive measures by temporarily converting all boarding schools to day schools.
“In addition, the state government made sure that every primary and secondary schools across the three senatorial districts has a semblance of security team that can respond immediately to suspected threatsl,” he said.
Meanwhile, more communities have come under armed bandit attacks in the last 24 hours with more killings and destruction of properties, with the killing of four people at Campanin-bobi in Mariga and several others sustaining various degrees of injuriee.
Apart from the four traders killed during the invasion, a reliable eye witness said the rampaging armed bandits, in their large numbers, attacked the community at about 6 a.m Tuesday morning, dispossessing them of their belongings, including food stuff and other valuables.