Five days after 136 students were abducted from Salihu Tanko Islamic School at Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, the state government has neither visited nor supported the parents.
Some of the abductees are as young as three years old.
One of the parents, Tanko Zagi, whose seven-year-old son was kidnapped, told Arise News’ ‘Morning Show’ on Friday that unlike the state government, the chairman of the local government reached out to the parents.
“As you can see, I’m weak and since that day up till now, we have not seen anything from the state government but what I know is that the local government chairman has been up and doing to see that he helps so that these children are rescued,” Zagi said.
“But from the state government, we don’t know. We heard rumours that they had sent security personnel to go and rescue these children but we have not seen any. We have not heard from villagers whose houses are situated close to the road where these bandits pass that security personnel pass through there to go and rescue these children.
“Honestly, we are not happy that up till now, nobody, no government official, has come to condole with us.”
While parents have begun raising funds to pay the N200million – increased from N110million – demanded by the bandits demanded, the state government admitted that it was aware of the parents’ efforts but said it would not support payment of ransom to the kidnappers.
About N10million was raised in four days in a house-to-house fund raising effort.
Abubakar Alhassan, the head teacher of the school for 10 years, said that because he had been preoccupied with dealing with the parents he had not had time to go to the state capital to meet the government. He is also in charge of negotiating with the bandits.
“They [state government] are supposed to come to the school to examine the environment – to sympathise with us, the management of the school; to sympathise with the parents; to sympathise even with the entire community. But none of them surfaced. They didn’t come. They didn’t send any delegate,” Alhassan said.
He added that the situation was beyond the control of the local government chairman who had been supporting them.
Alhassan disclosed that the state government lied about deploying security operatives to the area to rescue the children.
“It is surprising because as Mr Saidu told you, there is no way they can be in that bush without coming through Tegina. No, it’s a lie. We didn’t see anything, even fly or mosquito from the state government.
“They didn’t come here. They can’t be there inside offices, inside air conditioner, telling lies.”
Denying that there had been a warning that the bandits would attack the community, Alhassan, whose two children and sister were among those abducted, said that it was not possible that he would allow the attack happen if there was forewarning.
“How do you expect me to allow them to come to the school on that day and you mean I had the information that the bandits would come and I will allow them to open the school or I will allow anybody or my children to be in the school? It is not possible… It is just a mere statement from the government.”
Although this is the first kidnapping incident in Tegina community, in February, 27 students of the Government Science Secondary School were abducted in Kagara Town in Niger State. They were released after 10 days.
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