Rampaging bandits yesterday attacked Greenfield University, Kaduna, killed a staff, kidnapped another alongside 23 students, demanding N800 million ransom to free them.
This is even as bandits got more daring, yesterday at Zazzaga community in Munya Local Government Area of Niger State, attacking a military camp where they set a Smilitary vehicles ablaze and made away with a military vehicle.
Two persons, including a soldier and a civilian were also declared missing after the bandits left the scene.
The attacks came on a day the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Ibrahim Attahiru, said Nigeria’s security challenges, including banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and secessionist agitations, would be difficult to overcome without required equipment, weapons and armoured fighting vehicles, and funds among others.
Bandits kill staff of Greenfield University, kidnap 23 students
In the Kaduna attack, the bandits killed a staff of Greenfield University, kidnapped another staff and some students on Tuesday night.
Greenfield University is located along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway in Chikun Local Government Area. Established three years ago, it is the first private university in the state.
The latest incident is the first major attack that bandits will launch on communities around the Kaduna-Abuja Highway since 300 female soldiers were deployed to the general area last January.
Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, confirmed the attack.
Eye-witnesses said the gunmen stormed the university last night and started shooting sporadically, before taking some of the students away.
Locals said that the university with a student population of 40 does not have enough security on ground despite being located in one of the hotbeds of kidnapping, a situation they believe made it an easy target for the bandits.
N800 million ransom demanded
Although, there was no official confirmation of the number of kidnapped students, a family member of one of the missing students said that the gunmen had demanded N800 million ransom before they will release the no fewer than 23 students and a staff of the institution.
“Negotiations are going on; the kidnappers have contacted some family members, asking for the payment of N800 million,” a cousin of one of the kidnapped students, Georgiana Stephen, said.
She said the abductors asked her family to pay N8 million ransom before they could secure the release of their sister from captivity.
According to Georgiana, the abducted 23 students were mainly girls, including six boys.
She said the kidnappers were subjecting the students to torture, saying unless the ransom was paid, all the students in captivity would be killed.
This is the second time students of a higher institution would be kidnapped in Kaduna. The first was at Federal College of Forestry and Mechanization, Afaka, where 39 students were abducted on March 12. So far only 10 of the students have regained freedom. The kidnappers are asking for N500 million ransom, which the Kaduna State Government has refused to pay.
Security operatives who took custody of the remaining students of the university had handed them over to the institution.
Confirming the attack yesterday, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna State, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement that on Tuesday night, the Ministry received distress calls of an attack by armed bandits on the Greenfield University, situated at Kasarami, off the Kaduna-Abuja Road in Chikun LGA.
According to him, troops of Operation Thunder Strike (OPTS) and other operatives swiftly moved to the location and the armed bandits retreated.
He said: “After search-and-rescue operations, a staff member of the university, Paul Ude Okafor, was confirmed to have been killed by the armed bandits, while a number of students were kidnapped.
“The security operatives took custody of the remaining students who have been handed over to the institution, as at noon today, Wednesday 21st April 2021.
“The actual number of students kidnapped is still being sought from the institution’s records,” he said.
“Troops and other security operatives are working in the general area, and the public will be informed of further developments.”
Police confirm attack
The Police Command in Kaduna State, also confirmed the attack by bandits on the university, saying the attack happened at about 8.35 pm on Tuesday. The Command Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige, said some of the students were abducted. He said security operatives had been deployed to the general area for search and rescue operation.
In Niger State, the invading bandits were engaged in a battle by the Joint Task Force and scores of them were reportedly killed. However, two people, a soldier and a civilian, were declared missing.
Besides the missing people, the surviving bandits were said to have escaped with one of the operational vehicles of the military after setting another ablaze.
Vanguard reliably gathered that the bandits who were about 60 in number and heavily armed, stormed the military base early in the morning, yesterday.
On arrival at the base around 4am on Wednesday, sources said the bandits grouped themselves into three to carry out their deadly act.
A group, it was gathered, laid ambush on the major road leading to the camp to forestall any likely intruders, while the other went to the village to guard against any intrusion by the villagers, especially the vigilante. The third group was said to have made straight for the military camp to unleash terror.
Just three weeks ago, bandits invaded the Joint Security Task Force in Allawa and Basa in Shiroro Local Government Area of the state, killing five soldiers and a mobile policeman.
The military camp is located at the Junior Secondary School about 500 metres from the town and it has been in existence since 2012 when terrorism in the area escalated.
A source from the village said the gun battle between the two groups lasted for about two hours after which many of the bandits were killed.
“The bandits re-mobilized and stormed the camp after the gun battle and set one of the military vehicles on fire and went away with another.
“They also set the food store in the camp on fire. The military fought them to a stand still and I think the bandits might have used the military vehicle to evacuate the injured ones and possibly some dead ones among them,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, has told the Senate that to defeat banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and secession among other security threats, security agencies need required equipment, weapons and armoured fighting vehicles among others.
“To curb and finally defeat these threats, the Nigerian Army requires equipment, weapons, armoured fighting vehicles, platforms and various combat enablers,” the COAS said when the Senate Committee on Army, led by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume visited Army Headquarters, Abuja as part of oversight functions.
He said: “As we all know, Nigeria is faced with a lot of security challenges that include insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West and part of North-Central as well as secessionist agitations in the South-East and South-South geo-political zones of the country.
“I urge you to, as a matter of urgency, consider these critical needs as you legislate and appropriate funds. I will be counting on your support so that we can efficiently perform our constitutional roles and defeat all our threats.
“This courtesy visit is timely because it affords us the opportunity to interact and discuss issues that would impact on the funding of Nigerian Army activities and operations while also strengthening the cordial relationship between the National Assembly and Army Headquarters.
While appreciating the Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Army for “the relentless support extended to me during the process leading to my confirmation as the Chief of Army Staff,” the COAS said: “Let me assure the Senate Committee on Army that the Nigerian Army under my leadership remains apolitical and committed to the protection of democracy and good governance in Nigeria.”
In his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume, said the purpose of the visit was to have close understanding of the issues and needs of the Nigerian Army and find a way to address them.
Ndume said that the Army has a daunting task of mitigating the various security challenges confronting the country, adding that the National Assembly plays important roles in terms of giving the necessary legislative support to the Nigerian army.
Ndume added: “I want to assure you that even though Nigerians are already expecting so much from the service chiefs, we have been given the assurances that they would do their best. But the bottom line is that they must be given what they need in order to carry out the assignment and that is money, equipment, personnel and all those translates into money.
“That is why we are calling on the government to give the Nigerian army the necessary support and tools to execute the mandate that is highly expected.
“Fortunately, we understand that the supplementary budget will be laid before the National Assembly to take care of some of the loopholes and lapses that we saw in 2021 budget and knowing the new security challenges that we are facing in various regions.”
In a similar vein, the Army Chief, while hosting the Acting Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba Alkali, on a courtesy visit assured the Nigerian Police of Nigerian Army’s collaboration in the nation’s effort to confront the security challenges in the country.
He told the IGP: “Your appointment coming at this time when the country is grappling with a barrage of security challenges shows the confidence Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief has in your ability to deliver. I am therefore confident that you will, in the shortest possible time, restore confidence in the security landscape of the country.
“The Nigerian Army under my leadership will continue to synergize with the Nigerian Police force to ensure that peace and security of lives and property is achieved.”
Earlier, IGP Alkali Baba noted that he was at Army headquarters to seek collaboration in tackling various security challenges because, “in the circumstances we are today, no single service can go it all alone. I came to pledge my unalloyed support to work with the military to enable us tackle kidnapping, banditry, secession and other security challenges. Nigerian Police will collaborate with the Nigerian Army and we are ready to do this in the area of training, joint operations and whatever is necessary to overcome these security threats.