We knew kidnappers will strike in Kaduna three months ago – El-Rufai
There is a strong suspicion in government that the current wave of kidnapping in parts of the country has the support of the terror sect, Boko Haram.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who dropped this hint on Friday, said intelligence report had shown that kidnappers are collaborating with some Boko Haram members to kidnap people for ransom.
He spoke with State House correspondents after Juma’at prayers at the State House, Abuja.
He said he received intelligence report three months ago that kidnappers might now target schools in his state.
Gunmen struck at Engravers College, Kakau Daji, a remote village in Gwagwada District, Chikun local area of Kaduna State, early Thursday, abducting six female students and two teachers.
The kidnappers have contacted some parents of the kidnapped students to demand a ransom of N50million.
Questioned about the development by reporters, el-Rufai said government had made adequate arrangement to beef up security in state schools.
The kidnappers of the school female students, he said, succeeded because Engravers College is located out of the city.
He said: ”It is most unfortunate and tragic for us in Kaduna for this kidnap of children and teachers to happen.
“As at this morning (Friday), the kidnappers have made contacts with the parents, and we have got the parents of the kidnapped children and the relations of the teachers to be in one place so that there is one line of communication with the kidnappers to facilitate their release.
“However, from the moment of the kidnap, the security agencies, from the DSS, the Police, the Airforce and the Army have been on the matter and I am confident that not only are we going to secure the release of the students and their teachers, but we are going to get the kidnappers by the grace of God.
“It is always a moment of sadness when young people that are trying to get education become victims of these criminals. But kidnapping has become widespread that for many people, it is not news.
“For us in Kaduna, this is one of the biggest tragedies and we are doing everything to manage the situation to get the children and their teachers safely and pursue these kidnappers with everything that we have got.
“I am confident that it will be resolved and very soon. I get updates every three hours on this and the last update I got is that they are in touch and they are discussing to resolve the matter.
“Until the kidnapping happened, I didn’t know the school. It is right in the middle of the bush along the Abuja/Kaduna road. It’s in the middle of nowhere really, that’s why it was vulnerable. Other schools are protected and no one should have any doubts if your child is in Kaduna State. We are doing our best to protect him or her.
“Schools are being watched and we do regular surveillance. We use the Nigerian Airforce planes, we use drones. We do regular surveillance all across the state and we get intelligence as to likely targets. So, with the help of security agencies, we are doing the best we can on this. Of course, you can never get this 100 percent. “
On the ransom, he said: “They have made demand for money and that is being negotiated. They always do. I cannot go into details; we are trying to protect the victims and secure their release. So, there is a level of information I cannot reveal.”
Asked whether he regretted enrolling his child in public school, he said: “My child should not be safer or more protected than any other child in Kaduna State. I took an oath of office to protect everyone, and my child is just one of the two million children we have in primary schools in Kaduna State.
“And I have no intention of reviewing that. For me, taking my child to a government school was not only a commitment I made, but a clear expression that I have confidence in the quality of our public schools for my child to attend. And we have already given directives that all the staff of the Ministry of Education who are in charge of managing our education system must have their own children in public schools.”
On whether parents were withdrawing their children from schools because of the incident, he said there was no information available to him to that effect.