Kagara Abductees: A Bad Example To Treat Victims Of Banditry And Kidnapping.

By Saleh Bature
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The video of the released abductees of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger state is full of pathos. Looking at the lethargic, dirty, frail bodies and haggard looking faces of the victims, one might mistake them for people who had regained freedom from years of captivity in a concentration camp.

The man who first shared the video with me wrote: “This is the most embarrassing situation. Where are the doctors, Government officials and Vehicles to move these innocent souls. Imagine someone is suggesting for hot water to be given to the victims. NIGERIA is a failed state. Allah ya cecemu ameen.”

The same questions he raised were on my lips as I was watching the disturbing video of the victims of savagery to innocent Nigerians. I knew that negotiations had been going on for over a week between government and the abductors. For this reason, the government of Niger state should have organized a medical team of doctors and ambulances to receive and give first aid treatment to the released abductees.

It was also the responsibility of the Niger state government to provide the victims with emergency food to nourish their bodies for proper functioning. Much as we knew the government of Abubakar Sani Bello would give the necessary assistance to the abductees, we complained about the needless delays to attend to them at the time they needed assistance. No time should have been wasted in providing essential foods to people who spent two weeks in the dungeon of bandits. They suffered from excruciating hunger and thirst while in captivity. People fault the government of Niger state for not doing what it ought to have done at the right time to give comfort and relief to the rescued students and their teachers. The government is blamed for indifference and insensitivity to people in need of immediate help.

Governor Sani Bello’s swipe at the federal government accusing it of indifference to Niger state in the Kagara debacle is misguided. The governor should be dissuaded from such divisive and time wasting blame game and dedicate his few years in office to serve his people and leave a legacy to be remembered by the upcoming generation. With their reckless utterances, the governors of Nigeria pose a serious threats to the survival of the nation as a united entity. As it is, every governor sees himself as the potential president of Nigeria. They give lip service to their official responsibilities and waste too much time and state’s resources on 2023.

It is true that the Federal government has failed to end terrorism, kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria; but we cannot blame her for sidelining the states. Other countries that faced similar violence by non state actors had proven that political will is what we lack in our own case.

The bloody 26 year Tamil Liberation war fought by the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, beginning on 23 July 1983 to 2009 came to an end because the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa showed a strong political will to end it. The black Tiger wing of the Tamil army carried a ferocious attack on a foreign head of state, the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Ghandia, killing him on 21 May 1991. It assassinated Ranasinghe Premadasa, the President of Sri Lanka, and orchestrated the failed assassination attempt of Chandarika Kumaratunga, on 18 December 1999, which resulted in the loss of her right eye. Sri Lanka is today enjoying relative peace because it has successfully fought terrorism.

In Egypt too, Abdel Fattah El- Sissi, had clamped down on al -Ikhwan al-Muslimin (the Muslim brotherhood) a very powerful Sunni brand Islamic Organization founded by Sheikh Hassan-al- Bannah in 1928. Today, the brotherhood is silenced because the government has shown political will.

The handling of victims of banditry and kidnapping by the police in this country is very poor and embarrassing. These twin evils, Kidnapping and banditry are our worst trials and disasters in Nigeria today. The police should know that their duty is not only to rescue and escort victims to safety. It is appalling how the police took turns, to video tape and take the pictures of Kagara released abductees. Even criminals have right to their privacy not to talk of people who are law-abiding and victims of violence. What the abductees needed at that time from the police was empathy. The protection of the privacy of people as enshrined in our constitution should have been respected by the police. The actions of the police is wrong. It is condemnable and shameful. The IG should ensure that unprofessional conduct by his boys never happens again.

Banditry and kidnapping are the most “lucrative” blood money in northern Nigeria. As I write about the heartwarming release of students and teachers from Kagara, another tragedy struck Nigeria. Over 300 girls students of GGSS Jangebe, Zamfara state, have been attacked while sleeping in their school hostels. They were hauled into the wilderness like expendable items. Sadly, bandits launched a fresh attack on Kagara and its adjoining communities on Saturday 27 February (yesterday), barely after the release of 42 kidnapped persons from the area. It was reported that they abducted twenty six people.

Persons who suffer from a harrowing experience of banditry and kidnapping are not brands for advertising. They are respectful people who care much about their privacy and dignity. Their pictures in that horrible condition should not be a subject for social media discourse.

Saleh Bature wrote this piece from NDIC Quarters, off. Limpopo street, Maitama, Abuja. He is reachable @ [email protected]