How bandits fooled security agents to abduct 317 schoolgirls 

The girls marched from school to the bush on foot

Seven students are rescued from kidnappers.

Troops spot the location of students; Harmattan delays rescue

How bandits fooled security agents to abduct 317 schoolgirls
Buhari warns bandits that their only restraint is concern for the lives of victims.
In a game of wits in the moments leading to the school invasion, the bandits who struck at the Government Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State, early yesterday, appeared to have outsmarted security agents in the area.

According to sources, the gunmen appeared to have split into two groups, with one fighting the security agents and the other moving into the school grounds to kidnap the girls.

It was collected, kept the security agents busy and unable to understand what was going on at the school.

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The preliminary report published yesterday by the Federal Government put the number of abductees at 307 as compared to the 317 initially reported.

Seven of the students were able to flee.
In his first reaction to the development yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari warned bandits against over-stretching their luck, saying the only thing that protects them from certain destruction is the restraint of innocent prisoners’ lives.

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Security agents engaged in a fierce battle with some of the bandits who were used as decoys to divert attention from the abduction, The Nation gathered.

The preliminary government report showed that the bandits marched into the bush with the girls in the dark.

There are already military and security agencies where the girls are being kept..

However, the widespread harmattan in some parts of the North, including Zamfara State, and the government’s concern for the girls’ safety are said to be delaying an air and land rescue operation.

The rescue operation is said to be being coordinated by Maj. Gen Lucky Irabor, the Chief of Defence Staff.

“According to preliminary reports, the bandits changed tactics this time around before abducting the schoolgirls in Jangebe,” an authoritative source said last night.

“By using kidnappers as decoys, they (bandits) diverted the attention of security agencies. Before the bandits struck, security agents clashed with some kidnappers in Jangebe, according to our records.

How bandits fooled security agents to abduct 317 schoolgirls

“As a result, while security agents were battling kidnappers, the bandits raided the school and kidnapped the girls.”

“The source said in response to a question: “The girls were marched on foot into the bush under armed escort by bandits who were more numerous than the abductees.

“The girls, who were scared, tried to save their lives by pleading and obeying the bandits’ directives.”

According to sources, the abducted schoolgirls’ location has been discovered.

One of the sources said: “The military and other security agencies have located the girls where they are being held.”

“However, the prevalent harmattan in the North, including Zamfara State, is delaying the rescue operation, both in the air and on the ground. The harsh weather makes visibility difficult on land and in the air.

“Troops and other agents are also taking precautions to ensure that the girls are rescued with as little damage as possible. It’s possible that we won’t have a choice but to call a spade a spade.

“We hope that the idea of the military liberating these innocent girls will be bought by political authority in the Stste.”

Maj. Gen Lucky Irabor, the Chief of Defence Staff, was busy coordinating the rescue mission last night.

According to other sources in Jangebe, the bandits arrived around 1 a.m., shooting sporadically.

Seven kidnapped girls flee
Seven of the abducted girls managed to escape from the gunmen’s grip, and they got together last night.

The girls outwitted their abductors while they were being marched into the forest, according to the source.

As many of them were able to manoeuvre their way out of captivity, the girls said more might be on their way home.

The military, police, Department of State Security, and other security operatives have begun coordinated search and rescue operations on the Zamfara abducted school girls, according to IGP Police Inspector General Muhammed Adamu.

Two operational surveillance helicopters will be deployed to Zamfara State immediately, according to Adamu.

This comes on top of the personnel from Operation Puff Adder II who were previously deployed to the State to assist the Command in combating banditry, kidnapping, and other related crimes.

The Public Relations Officer of the Force, CP Frank Mba, said: “Operatives of the Nigerian Police Force have launched a coordinated search and rescue operation to locate and rescue students from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State, abducted in the early hours of Friday, 25 February 2021, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial assets.”

The Inspector-General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, mni, has ordered the immediate deployment of two (2) operational surveillance helicopters to Zamfara State in order to ensure the success of the ongoing operation.’

“This is in addition to the Operation Puff Adder II personnel who were previously deployed to the State to assist the Command in combating banditry, kidnapping, and other related crimes.”

Adamu condemned the “barbaric and callous abduction of innocent female students,” promising that until the abducted students are successfully rescued and reunited with their families, the police and other security forces will not relent.

Mba stated that the joint rescue operation is being carried out by the Police, Military, and other law enforcement personnel, with assistance from the State Government and other stakeholders.

A joint search and rescue operation was already underway with a view to rescuing the abducted students, Zamfara Police Commissioner Abutu Yaro said.

CP Yaro said Hadarin Daji, Major General Aminu Bande, Brigade Commander 1 Brigade, Nigeria Army Gusau, and other officials of the state government led a heavily armed Re-enforcement team to Jangebe to complement the ongoing rescue operation in the places where the students were thought to have been whisked to.

Buhari warns bandits that their only restraint is concern for the lives of victims.
In his first reaction to the abduction of the girls, President Muhammadu Buhari warned bandits not to over-stretch their luck, saying that the only thing that protects them from certain destruction is the restraint on the lives of the innocent.

According to him, security forces have what it takes to put an end to the impunity of bandits.

Mallam Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said in a statement that the military was aware of the rules of engagement, adding that no criminal group is too powerful for the government to crush.

“The government will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in exchange for large ransom payments,” he declared.

“No criminal organisation can be too powerful to be defeated by the government,” he added.

The rules of engagement are the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits.

“We have the capability to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but we are constrained by the fear of large-scale casualties among innocent villagers and hostages who could be used as human shields by the bandits.

“Our number one priority is to ensure that the hostages are safe, alive, and unharmed.

“A hostage crisis is a complex situation requiring the utmost patience to protect victims from physical injury or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.”

How bandits fooled security agents to abduct 317 schoolgirls

“Do not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government,” he warned the bandits. As a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution, they should not mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives.

The President called on state governments to “review their policy of rewarding money and vehicle bandits, warning that the policy may boomerang catastrophically.”

He also advised that by improving safety around schools and their surroundings, states and local governments should be more proactive.

The 27 students abducted from school last week from the Government Science College Kagara, Niger State, remain in captivity, as are about 100 Chibok school girls confiscated in April 2014 and Leah Sharibu kidnapped in Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018.

Credit : The Nation, Ejes Gist NewsOnline

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