Tension grips federal varsity Gusau


By our reporter

Several parents whose children are students of Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State capital, have hurriedly withdrawn their children from the 10-year-old institution in the wake of recent kidnapping incidents in the North West State.

Particularly rocked by the insecurity which shook the school following the abduction of scores of students by bandits on Friday, 22 September this year, many of the departing students vowed never to return.

Many of them, in the heat of huge fright over the incident, did not bother to wait and comply with the institution’s guidelines on withdrawal of students.

While some of the abducted students, mostly females, were immediately rescued by troops of Operation Hadarin Daji, the joint military task force set up to combat banditry in the North West, a good number of them are still in the tight grip of the bandits, believed to be Boko Haram terrorists who are adept at mass kidnappings.

Speaking exclusively to The Daily Times, some of the students said their parents ordered them to return to the relative safety of their homes in other parts of the country, in the wake of the kidnappings which shook not only the university, popularly called FUGUS, but which have persistently ravaged other parts of the State.

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Requesting that the newspaper grants them anonymity for the sake of their individual security and implications for their educational future should they be named, the students opened up on goings-on in FUGUS.

One of them said: ”Though I left secondary school in 2018 and had been seeking admission since then, till FUGUS gave me admission, after the kidnapping of 22 September as well as others throughout the State, my parents ordered me to return home immediately because if there’s no life, there’s no school but if you have life, there’s hope.”

Giving an account of what really happened on 22 September, another student said: ”That’s the time I went to the school. The day that I entered the school, that was the day that they kidnapped some of our girls and some staff in the school. When they kidnapped them, on their way going, soldiers followed them immediately and rescued some, but others, till today, we’ve never heard anything.

22 September kidnapping and immediate aftermath

”The kidnappers came into the school. That was about 3am. That was on a Friday. They entered first into the boys’ hostel on campus, but they did not do anything and passed and went to the girls’ hostel outside the school. They went ahead and kidnapped them.”

The abduction and the commando-style of the attack struck deep fear into the hearts of the campus community and when media broke news of the unsavoury developments in the institution, parents began frantically calling their children and ordering them to quit the university immediately, The Daily Times was told.

Asked if those who fled were indigenes or non-indigenes, they stated that most were students from other parts of the country, pointing out that to the indigenous students, abductions were like a new normal in the State.

”I left the school. My parents asked me to come back because of the insecurity. Most of us who left are non-indigenes. The situation is like a normal to the indigenes. It’s a normal thing because the kidnappers can enter anywhere today, enter tomorrow. So, the situation is like a normal thing to them,” one of them claimed.

Another of the students stated that in his class alone, he knows three students -two males and a female – who had fled the university, pointing out that it was possible that many more from within the department alone had quit.

’22 September incident not the only one’

They recalled that the 22 September abduction was not the only such incident in the school, narrating another incident where an abducted male student managed to escape in spectacular fashion, putting his life on the line in the process.

One of the students stated: ”Me, I was staying off campus and the bandits entered the place where I was staying. So, that day they came about 7-8pm and they carried away three students. But that day, the students all escaped.

”Among the bandits, some of them were holding guns, some machetes, other weapons and others were not holding anything.

”So, when they were pushing the students to their hideout in the bush, one guy turned and pushed one of the bandits and fled briskly into the night. That was how he escaped and returned to tell us his experience. Somehow, the others also escaped alive.”

Asked why it was seemingly easy for the bandits to enter FUGUS, they pointed to three factors: the fragmented structure of the campus, inadequate security and the porous nature of the school.

‘How FG can stem it’

The students called on the Federal Government (FG) to relocate the off-campus girls’ hostels into the campus proper, then build a military formation of about 150 soldiers close by and finally, fence the campus round.

They expressed apprehension that certain unidentified elements in the town may be working closely with the bandits by way of information-sharing and urged security agencies to intensify intelligence gathering to stem the scourge not only in FUGUS but in the State generally.

Acknowledging that the university ticks all boxes in terms of provision of amenities such as regular power supply, uninterrupted pipe-borne water as well as others, they said it’s one huge blight was the issue of insecurity, adding that ”we cannot stay in a place where every now and again you keep hearing gunshots.”

Contacted on the telephone, the university’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mallam Umar Usman, said he was not aware that any student had quit the institution on account of fear of insecurity.

”Not to my knowledge. Not to my knowledge,” he said tersely.

Asked for update on the fate of the remaining students in bandits’ captivity, the PRO said ”no update.”

It would be recalled that on 26 February, 2021, a total of 279 female students, aged 10 and 17, were abducted during an invasion by armed terrorists on the boarding Government Girls Science Secondary School (GGSSS), Jangebe, in the State.

It was believed at the time that some form of payment was made to secure the release of all the hostages on 2 March 2021.

Dubbed Nigeria’s second largest school kidnapping in one month, and the third in three months, there were a total of 633 victims involved.

The FG has been battling terrorists in the State with some degree of success, but residents said there remains a lot of ground still to be covered to rid the State of banditry.

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