As suspected bandits abduct not less than eight members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Region 30, Trinity Sanctuary, Kaduna, on Friday, Northern Elders Forum has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to come up with fresh solutions to the unprecedented challenges facing Nigeria.
Northern Elders Spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, who was speaking on a Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily on Friday said President Buhari must step up his leadership of the country.
The latest abduction in Kaduna is coming amid continued confinement of 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State by bandits 18 days ago.
The latest victims were on the church bus travelling for a programme when they were attacked. A Facebook user, Eje Faraday, broke the news on his page with a picture of the white vehicle at around 7pm.
While he wrote, “all the passengers in this bus were just kidnapped along Kachia Road, 63 km from Kaduna”, a senior official of the church who did not want his name in print confirmed the report.
“They were eight in number on the bus. They were going to Kachia in preparation for the church’s Let’s Go a Fishing Easter programme. The gunmen took them out of the bus and put them in their own operational vehicle. They have yet to contact the church”, the church official said.
Police spokesman in the state, Mohammed Jalige, said he was still making enquiries on the incident, pointing out, “I have contacted our officers along that axis. Actually, we have three divisions in that area. I have got responses from two divisional police officers, who said they were not aware of the incident. I am just waiting for the response of the third DPO. When I get it, I will let you know.”
In the mean time, medical experts say the abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation may suffer panic disorder, nightmares and other manifestations of post-traumatic disorder.
The medical experts, comprising psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health advocate, in separate interviews with our correspondents, warned that when eventually released or rescued, the students could suffer depression, difficulty with attention in class, lack of trust and other mental issues.
Parents of the students had on Monday protested and given Kaduna State and the Federal Government 48 hours to rescue the students, lamenting that they were worried about the health of their children, some of whom they said sustained injuries during their abduction.
A parent who spoke for the protesters, Friday Sani, said, “we are by this press conference demanding that the government rescue our children by all means and within 48 hours so that the process of their rehabilitation can commence because the longer they stay in captivity the worse the situation will be.”
Bandits had on the night of March 11 abducted no fewer than 30 students from the school, located opposite the Nigerian Defence Academy on Airport Road. The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement that checks by the government revealed that 39 persons, comprising 23 females and 16 males, were missing.
He, however, gave an assurance that security agents were working hard to rescue the students, noting that troops of the Nigerian Army from 1 Division prevented the bandits from taking away more students and that they were able to rescue 180 persons.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai, had insisted that his government would not negotiate with bandits, who demanded N500 million ransom. The bandits also warned that the students would not go home alive should any attempt be made to rescue them.
“We will not engage with bandits or kidnappers. Private citizens like clerics and clergymen can do so in their individual capacities, to preach to them and ask them to repent. We also want them to repent but it is not our job to ask them to do so”, the governor said.
However, the Northern Elders spokesman said of Nigeria under Buhari’s watch, “this is a country that is facing unprecedented levels of insecurity from all angles and we don’t see any sign that they are doing anything different from what they have done in the last 3, 4, or 5 years.”
While urging Buhari to do more to secure the lives and property of citizens, other than continue blaming everyone else for the woes befalling Nigeria, Baba Ahmed said, “you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect to get different results.”
He said it is clear that the government is not doing enough and that is why the results have been felt negatively across the nation, adding that it is tiring to hear the presidency continue to ascribe the complaints of Nigerians to the machinations of the opposition.
“We can’t have a president that is just sitting there and then blaming everybody else for the woes of the country that is not what we elected him for.”
“If every time Nigerians complain about being marginalised, we (presidency) don’t want to hear this and you dismiss it as this is just the opposition, then these problems will grow because even if it is the opposition, it is your job to deal with the opposition.
“Ascribing problems to the opposition doesn’t solve them; because it is the job of the opposition to make you look bad, it’s your job to make the opposition less effective in making you look bad. If the only response of the presidency is that every criticism, every complaint, every grievance that the people say the government is not working, we don’t see the result of work, and you say that is just talk, then clearly you are not dealing with the problem.”
He said it does not appear that the Buhari administration recognizes the magnitude of the problem faced by the country, arguing that if in all fairness it does understand the enormity then its response has been unsatisfactory and inadequate