Kankara Abduction: Anger as Police teargas victims’ parents

*PDP knocks FG over the teargas

*We have actionable intelligence on whereabouts of kidnapped students, says Defence Minister

By Emma Okereh and Myke Uzendu, Abuja

As confusion continues to trail the abduction of over 600 students of Government Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina state, security agents on Sunday, did the unthinkable spraying teargas on the parents of the abducted students who were keeping vigil for the rescue of their children.

Although conflicting information had said some of the students fled from the school premises and had returned, but none of the parents could state categorically if his child was among those said to have escaped and returned.

The Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Massari, who had been hedgy on the fate of the 884 students of the school, later reportedly stated that 600 of the students were abducted.

The police who had mobilized to the school in the instruction of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar, and also serving as advance security escort to the governor who visited the school on Sunday, fired teargas at the parents of the students when the governor arrived at the premises.

The incident occurred when the frustrated parents booed at the governor while was addressing them on federal government plans to rescue the abducted children.

Eyewitnesses informed The AUTHORITY that policemen had to fire teargas canisters on the surging protesting parents to pave way for the governor’s convoy to move out of the school premises when it appeared it was no longer safe for him to remain at the place.

A witness told BBC Hausa Service that the policemen fired teargas canisters to disperse the protesting parents who had demanded immediate rescue of their children, blaming federal and state government’s poor leadership and inability to handle rising insecurity in the country for the abduction.

The police and the state government, according to reports, have refused to disclose the actual number of students in the school, but maintained that 200 to 300 schoolboys have been rescued.

“The police, Nigerian Army, and Nigerian Air Force are working closely with the school authorities to ascertain the actual number of the missing and/or kidnapped students while search parties are assiduously working with a view to find and/or rescue the missing students.
“It will be too early to say at this particular moment the actual number of students that have been kidnapped or missing,” the police said in a statement.

*PDP knocks FG for the teargas of parents

Meanwhile, the leading opposition political part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has slammed the President Muhammadu Buhari presidency over the use of teargas on “sorrowful parents demanding for the release of their abducted children”.

The party decried the use of teargas by police on the parents, describing the action as “unwarranted and callous”.

In a statement on Sunday by Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, the opposition party said “it is disturbing that such callous reaction could be meted on the grief-stricken parents after President Muhammadu Buhari failed to protect their children from terrorists”.

The party expressed worry that “instead of going after terrorists and insurgents, that struck hours after a holidaying President Buhari and his security machinery took over the state, the state apparatus of power is being used to inflict further pain on the helpless victims.

“Such display of insensitivity further foregrounds the lack of empathy by the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration and serves as a sad reminder of how it also blamed the 43 farmers recently slain by terrorists in Borno state, instead of taking steps to apprehend the assailants”.

PDP identified with the pains and sorrows of the parents who it stated “have been under serious torment since President Buhari arrived Katsina”.

The PDP called on President Buhari to immediately apologize to Nigerians and the parents of the kidnapped students, as well as take steps to ensure that disciplinary actions were meted out on those who ordered the teargas attack on the parents.

The PDP expressed solidarity with the people of Katsina state and other patriotic Nigerians, urging them not to rest until President Buhari rescues each of the abducted children.

*Abducted students to be rescued soon – Defence Minister

On his part, the Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen. Bashir Salihi-Magashi (rtd), has assured that the abducted students will be rescued soon.

Salihi-Magashi gave the assurance on Sunday in Katsina when he led a federal government’s delegation to Gov. Aminu Masari, on a sympathy visit.

He said that security agents were working hard to ensure that the students were all rescued without any of them being hurt.

“So far, we have been briefed by the Police Commissioner, GOC, Brigade Commander, Air Commander, DSS, and other security officers.

“Our interest is to keep ourselves abreast with what actually happened and we believe with their briefings, this task is going to be simple for us.

“We have strategies and I believe we can do it without any collateral damage to the people of Katsina State.

“We have the intelligence, the information, their whereabouts, their movements and their methods of operations.

“The task is easy for the armed forces and the police. The only thing is that we need prayers from you so that there will be no collateral damage in the event of being hostile,” Magashi said.

Speaking, Gov. Masari who put the students population of the school at 839 students, said some of the students have returned, while others are still missing.

The delegation included the National Security Adviser, retred Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air-Marshall Sadique Abubakar; Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice-Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Abubakar, as well as the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji-Bichi and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Alhaji Ahmed Rufai.

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