A combination of file photos of the map of Kaduna State and a gun recovered from crime suspects.
Two persons are said to have lost their lives after bandits invaded Bethel Baptist School, a private college in Kaduna State, kidnapping an unspecified number of students.
The kidnappers in the early hours of Monday attacked the private school located at Maraban Rido within the Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
Sources say the marauders came in gun blazing, shooting sporadically into the air before whisking the students away.
Four of the students are said to have escaped while the rest were taken away by the gunmen to an unknown destination.
This latest kidnap incident comes barely one day after gunmen suspected to be kidnappers attacked the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria, Kaduna state, abducting no fewer than seven people including nursing mothers.
The incident was said to have happened in the early hours of Sunday when the bandits invaded the centre and started shooting sporadically.
Among those kidnapped were seven staff of the centre (two male and five female) and two others who are non-staff.
The gunmen also attacked the Saye Divisional Police Headquarters also in Zaria and damaged a patrol vehicle with bullets.
Although the police authorities are yet to confirm the incident, sources from the area told Channels Television that the gunmen in large numbers had invaded Saye village, blocked the bridge leading to the Leprosy centre, while some others attacked the Saye Divisional police Headquarters, in an attempt to prevent the operatives from foiling the operation.
A plethora of kidnappings
Criminal groups, known as “bandits” by the authorities, have for quite some time been terrorizing parts of the northwest and centre of the nation, attacking villages, stealing cattle, and kidnapping people for ransom.
Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, and Kaduna have been the most attacked by the bandits, with the situation in the latter state deteriorating at an exponential rate.
Most disheartening about the attack in Kaduna is the fact that most of the kidnappings are focused on citadels of learning, leading to the mass abductions of students for ransom.
A prior warning
Four days ago, Governor Nasir El-Rufai told newsmen that he has withdrawn his children from a public school in Kaduna after getting wind of a plot to kidnap his son.
The governor had in September 2019, enrolled his six-year-old son, Abubakar-Sadiq into Kaduna Capital School, a public school located in the Kaduna State capital, in order to show leadership to revamp public education in the state and make it more competitive.
But in an interview with the BBC, El-Rufai noted that available security reports revealed that three bandit groups were planning to abduct his son from the school, a situation which he also notes will expose other children to grave danger.
The Governor also disclosed that he had enrolled Sadiq’s younger sister, Nasrine in the same school after turning six years, before the security development, thereby forcing the family to withdraw the two children from the public school temporarily.
“My son is registered in the school because his sister also became six years of age and we registered her in the school but we’ve had to temporarily withdraw them for the security of the school because we got intercept from at least two groups that are planning to attack the school to kidnap my son,” he said.
“I don’t think they will succeed because there will be enough security there to prevent it but other children may be placed in danger. We have no idea what weapons they will come with.”
He however said that his two children are currently homeschooling, and are only going to Capital School to write exams, with the hope of returning to Kaduna Capital School when security improves.
The governor further explained that his family took the decision to withdraw his son and daughter based on the advice of security agents, and in order not to put the school at risk of being attacked by bandits.
Ransom For Bandits?
As Kaduna State and other parts of the north-western region continue to experience the scourge of banditry, El-Rufai has been one of those few governors that have repeatedly kicked against the payment of ransom to kidnappers.
He also reiterated his administration’s stance, explaining that three groups intercepted had vowed to abduct his children to see if he would make a U-turn on the payment of ransom.
The Kaduna Governor has insisted that the state government has no money to pay bandits amid the renewed attacks by armed groups in the state.
He stated that the recent bandits’ attacks on communities in the state were a result of the government’s decision that it would not negotiate with them.
“We have a feeling that the renewed attacks in Kaduna are not unconnected to the position that we have taken as a government that we will not negotiate with criminals,” said the governor who was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
He added, “We will not give them any money and they will not make any profit from Kaduna; anyone that comes to Kaduna will not get a penny from the state government, except he will get a bullet instead.”
According to Governor El-Rufai, the security challenges being witnessed in the northwest region of the country have been existing for some years and gradually evolving and getting worse with time.
He was confident that while the state government does not have any reason to change his position, the military would wipe out the bandits from the region.