More than 22 students and construction workers of the Federal University Gusau (FUGUS), in Zamfara State kidnapped on 22 of this month have been rescued by the military.
So far the exact number of those abducted is not known when gunmen went and abducted female students from their ‘hostels’ at Sabon gida, away from the university campus. The construction workers abducted were nine.
According to those in the area, the gunmen went there in the middle of the night, shooting and spent hours carrying out their operation.
When the story broke, it implied that the hostels were as what people took them to be, those inside the campus, but it later came out that they were actually rented places that students use.
Students usually use outside accommodation if they could not get the official one inside the campus because they are few and not everybody could get it. Or some like more freedom, or don’t like congestion or don’t like to share bathrooms and so on.
Even though these accommodations are scattered in many areas around universities, they are not as monitored as those inside the campus which are part of the university with their own staff. This makes them vulnerable to theft and intimidation among other problems.
The usual condemnations and lamentations followed this abduction yet again which is very sad indeed. The bandits are emboldened and are not afraid and know where to hit hard. That is to abduct female students which is distressing to everybody. They know that people are afraid that they would be violated and gain attention through this.
They raid communities and abduct women t but they don’t get the attention they get when they abduct students. This however should draw attention to those from local communities to be noticed and rescued promptly as well. They are often forgotten though from time to time we hear of the rescue of some abducted people, but it hardly garners hue and cry.
Two years ago one man, a shoe shiner, told me that bandits raided his village in Zamfara and abducted the young wife of his brother among others. At that time she was still with the abductors.
In any event, university communities even where students live outside the campus are supposed to have a feeling of togetherness and nothing as drastic as being invaded by gunmen should be expected in a worst case scenario.
But this is Zamfara State where notorious bandits such as Bello Turji reign with impunity. Still hearing about such abductions is painful; we should not give up our freedom to them.
What about schools being attacked and female students catered away on motorcycles to the forests? What are the authorities going to do about it to prevent recurrence? Some parents or even the young girls themselves may be afraid to go to school, hindering their future. After all there is the likelihood of a bandit ‘marrying’ your daughter and you may not see her forever while you are abandoned by the government.
After some school abductions few years ago, there were talks of fencing, because it was discovered that many boys boarding secondary schools were not fenced, though it may not have been done.
In terms of security there is not much, may two men at a time, which is not adequate to repel bandits in large numbers with guns.
The government should however not relent and find a way to secure schools and prevent female students from being used as tools of bargain. Even those places that are known to accommodate students as hostels should have security, especially in Zamfara, the hotbed of banditry in the northwest.
Enough of these lapses, students should have a secure environment to learn. This should not be denied them and it is not too much to expect from the government.