Following the tragic murder of three of the abducted students of the Greenfield University in Kaduna on Friday, the National Association of Nigerian Students has said it will embark on mass protests to demand the release of the remaining students in captivity.
The students body specifically said it would convey an emergency action meeting in Kaduna State during the week and mobilise students around the North-West to protest the incessant kidnapping of students and attacks on schools by bandits.
“This is not acceptable,” NANS National President, Sunday Asefon, said on Saturday while condemning the students’ murder.
Asefon said the continued attacks on schools and the kidnapping of students were a declaration of war on formal education.
NANS disclosed its plan to Sunday PUNCH just as the Northern States Governors’ Forum is calling for an unconditional and immediate release of the remaining abducted Greenfield University students.
The Chairman of the NSGF and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, made the call on Saturday in a statement signed by his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Macham Makut.
The NSGF expressed sadness over the students’ murder, describing it as “barbaric, shocking and condemnable.”
Bandits had on Tuesday night reportedly kidnapped 23 students of the Greenfield University, killing a staff member during a shooting spree.
The university, which is privately owned, is located along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway in Kasarami, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The bandits later made contact with the parents and demanded a ransom of N800m for the students’ release.
But, on Friday, the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan, in a statement broke the sad news that three of the students had been killed by the bandits.
The corpses of the slain students – two females and a male – were reportedly dumped close to the university.
The identifies of the students were later revealed as Sadiq Sanga, Precious Nwakacha, and Dorothy Yohanna.
The development has sparked nationwide outrage and mourning, while the parents of the abducted students have been left devastated.
Also in Kaduna State, bandits had on March 11 abducted 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Mando, Igabi Local Government Area of the state.
Ten of the students have been released by the bandits, while 29 remain in captivity to date. The kidnappers are demanding N500m ransom.
Bemoaning the murder of the three Greenfield University students, kidnapping, and attacks on schools, the President of NANS, Asefon, said the association would embark on mass protests, calling on the government to do everything possible to ensure the release of the remaining students in captivity.
He said, “This is not acceptable anymore; the government must do everything possible to ensure our schools are protected. We call on the Kaduna State Government to do everything necessary to ensure that all kidnapped students in the state are released as soon as possible.
“In the week, we shall convey an emergency action meeting in Kaduna State and mobilise students around the North-West to protest the incessant kidnapping of our students.”
Asefon said if the government could not ensure the security of lives and property around campuses, it meant the government had failed in its core mandate of security.
He said, “The constant kidnapping of our students is a direct declaration of war on formal education in Nigeria. It is a great threat to our territorial sovereignty. If students can no longer go to school with the assurance that they will come back in peace, then we are in a war situation.
“NANS wishes to advise government at all levels to be proactive and consider all campuses red zones that must be secured always. Adequate security must be made available around all schools and campuses, especially in the North-West to ensure students can sleep on campus with their two eyes closed.”
Asefon said there was an immediate need for the convocation of a national security summit to galvanise new ideas on combating banditry and kidnapping in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Northern States Governors’ Forum called for the unconditional and immediate release of the remaining Greenfield University students by the bandits.
In a statement, the forum’s chairman, Lalong, said there was no justification for the kidnap and murder of innocent students who were simply in school to study and prepare themselves for service to the nation.
“This action is an act of sheer wickedness that must not be allowed to go unpunished,” he said.
Lalong said the governors had continued to engage the Federal Government and security agencies towards providing a lasting solution to banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities.
“The recent meeting of the forum with President Muhammadu Buhari and the service chiefs was to further consolidate on measures towards addressing the security challenges of the region and the nation as a whole,” he said.
Traumatised by the bandits’ action on Friday, Greenfield University, on Saturday, appealed to the abductors to stop the killings.
The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria also appealed to the abductors to spare the lives of the remaining students.
Precisely, the management of the university sought assistance from the government and well-meaning Nigerians to raise ransom for the release of the remaining students in captivity.
Reacting to the incident for the first time, the registrar of the university, Bashir Muhammad, in a statement, said the bandits were making a demand of N800m ransom.
Muhammad said, “We are at this point calling on the government and people of goodwill who can be of assistance to come to our aid as the situation is becoming overwhelming.
“Even so, very sad news reaching us today (Saturday) is that three of the students were killed and their bodies were found near the university. They were two females and one male.
“Further, a ransom of N800m has been demanded for our abducted students and staff.”
“Finally, we appeal to those in the custody of our staff and students to spare their lives,” Muhammad added.
In like manner, NAPTAN President, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, appealed to the abductors to spare the lives of the remaining students in captivity, saying it felt very sad about the three students’ murder.
However, Danjuma appealed to the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Government to reverse their position of not negotiating with the abductors, noting that lives were involved.
He said, “It’s not the first time this will happen; it happened with Boko Haram and some of them have surrendered their arms. Why can’t the government also sit down with the bandits and listen to them? Ask them what they want? It may not be money.
“We are calling on the Kaduna State and federal governments to reverse their decision and discuss with the bandits. They should have a dialogue with them.
“The bandits are not just kidnapping the students, they are also attacking the teachers in the villages. If the government doesn’t have any other means of rescuing our children, then let them sit down with the bandits.”
Danjuma said NAPTAN would not advise parents to withdraw their children from schools in spite of the setbacks, but called on the government and security agencies to “do something.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has made contacts with parents of the abducted students of both Greenfield University and those of the Federal Government of Forestry Mechanisation, Mando, Kaduna,
“They (Presidency) promised to do something to effect the release of the abducted students who have spent more than one month in the bandits’ den,” a source close to the parents said.
The source said the killing of the three students of Greenfield University had forced the Presidency to wade into the entire matter.
The source told one of our correspondents on Saturday that for the first time, an official from the Presidency called to see how the government could effect the release of the remaining students of both the Forestry college and Greenfield University.
The source said, “The bandits demanded the payment of N500m ransom and the swapping of three of their members detained in Kaduna, Kano, and Abuja.
“The killing of the three Greenfield University students humbled the Federal Government. The Presidency is seriously worried over the incidents and they have reached out to the parents.
“Apart from the statement released by the Presidency, they also called us to know the current situation on the ground, and we told them. They promised to take action. They said by tomorrow (Sunday), we should expect their call by noon.”
The President had on Saturday condemned the killing of the three Greenfield University students and promised that his regime would fight banditry, kidnapping and what he called political murders with all the resources available.