The mindless killing of Greenfield University Students

We are greatly saddened by the news of the recent killing of three students of Greenfield University, Kasarami Village in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. 

Marauding bandits had earlier killed a staff and kidnapped 23 students of the institution on Wednesday, April 21 from the school premises.

Our condolences go to the families of the deceased youngsters, the management of Greenfield University and the Kaduna State Government over this horrible incident which has regrettably cut short the lives of these young Nigerians even before their prime.

The murder of these students is a direct failure of the government to secure their lives in the first place and to rescue them after being kidnapped. These felons have, for the umpteenth time, visited death on our communities and brought to the fore, the clear and present danger facing the educational system in northern Nigeria and the dark cloud of death hovering over school children in that part of the country. This latest episode of senseless killing in Kaduna and the continued assault on educational institutions, as soft targets, is a declaration of war by criminal elements who have demonstrated without equivocation their determination to create a climate of fear and terror in our dear country, and perpetuate their criminal enterprise of kidnapping for ransom.

It is disappointing how under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, a former General in the Nigerian Army, terrorists, bandits and kidnappers have turned the security agencies and political structure, including the Presidency, into ineffective and reactive lame ducks.

The murder of these students demands a decisive immediate response to indicate we still have a government in Nigeria. The Federal and Kaduna State Governments have a responsibility to Nigerians, especially the parents of the remaining kidnapped students of Greenfield University and those of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka also in Kaduna, earlier kidnapped in March, to ensure their prompt rescue and safe return to their families. It is crucial that the government unleash every legitimate force it can muster to apprehend and prosecute these criminal elements for murder. The lethargic responses to these rampaging bandits appear to have emboldened them and the government must now act resolutely to prevent Nigeria from becoming an ungoverned space and a failed state.

To this end, the federal government must be courageous enough to admit it has been overwhelmed and seek regional, continental and international help to end the unbridled acts of banditry and kidnapping of school children in northern Nigeria. The rescue of 27 year old Philip Walton in Nigeria, by US Special Forces, from the hands of his abductors in October 2020, should be the springboard for Nigeria’s government to seek the needed external help. 

As previously recommended by our organisation, the constitution should be urgently amended by the National Assembly to give effective powers to governors in discharging their functions as the Chief Security Officers of their various states. The obvious pragmatic advantages of community policing, particularly in ensuring that ungoverned spaces do not become vulnerable to bandits would thus be complemented by democratic accountability and direct community feedback. The idea of a centralised police structure from Abuja is no longer tenable against the background of mounting security challenges in various states of the federation.

We endorse Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s position not to negotiate with the bandits terrorizing Kaduna, or other parts of the country under any guise. However, we implore the Kaduna State Government and its officials to limit their public utterances on their strategies to tackle the bandits menace, and work with the people, and security agencies to intelligently smash their criminal networks.

More importantly, we expect all stakeholders to see the urgency to join hands to ensure the full implementation of the National Framework for the Safe School initiative which was first launched in 2014 after the kidnap of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State.

The call for the creation of the Safe School Fund (SSF), by Governors Kayode Fayemi and Aminu Tambuwal, of both Ekiti and Sokoto State respectively, in bandit-prone states at the recent high-level forum on National Framework for Safe Schools held in Abuja, should be given the needed support to safeguard the future of Nigerian school children.

The future of generations of Nigerian students especially in northern Nigeria is under threat if we allow bandits to win. This, we must all collectively work to prevent from happening by arresting the situation decisively.

Abiola Owoaje 
NAS Capoon

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