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The video footage, which went viral on the social media Wednesday, showed the victims surrounded by the gunmen bearing explosives and sophisticated weapons.
In the video footage, the masked gunmen displayed guns and RPG as they surrounded the victims near a tree in a place that looked like a forest.
Speaking in the video, voices from the background asked the Niger State people to help them out.
“As-salaam Alaykum, people of Niger State we are looking for help. Please because of God, help us. It is 500 million naira that they (kidnappers) requested, please help us,” the voice said in native Hausa language which is largely spoken in some Northern part of Nigeria.
While the speaker was talking, another voice suspected to be one of the gunmen interrupted inadvertently saying, “You can see the condition that they are in.”
In a show of arms, the kidnappers shot while they jubilated, saying they did not go to towns but only operated from villages/bushes to villages/bushes.
Bandits with RPG: You see them celebrating … Another Cashout is loading.pic.twitter.com/WGDAMMqKSB
— Ayemojubar (@ayemojubar) February 17, 2021
On Sunday, 21 passengers were reported to have been abducted in a mass transit heading to Minna, the state capital.
The passenger bus was said to have been stopped by the gunmen who shot rapidly into the air before ordering everyone to disembark. They were then taken to an unknown location.
Calls and messages sent to Wasiu Abiodun, spokesperson for the Niger State Police Command, were not responded to as of the time of filing this report.
Kidnapping reigns in Niger State
While the passengers remain in the custody of the bandits, some unknown gunmen said to be dressed in military uniforms Tuesday evening attacked and kidnapped schoolboys from all-boys Government Science College (GSC) in Kagara Town, Niger State.
While there has not been an official number of how many students were kidnapped during the attack, about a hundred boys have been reported to be in the custody of the gunmen.
Reacting to the incident, the Niger State government has ordered the immediate closure of all boarding schools in the state.
Abubakar Sanni Bello, governor of Niger State, said this during a meeting with security agencies Wednesday.
According to Bello, the directive was issued to ensure the safety of their lives, following the abduction of the schoolboys in Kankara.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a team of the nation’s security chiefs to coordinate with state officials towards a rescue operation.
Buhari said this in a statement released on the official Twitter handle of the presidency concerning the abduction of the schoolboys.
President Buhari has assured of the support of his administration to the Armed Forces in their brave struggle against terrorism and banditry and urged them to do all that can be done to bring an end to this saga, and avoid such cowardly attacks on schools in the future.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) February 17, 2021
The president also urged the Nigeria Armed Forces to ensure that such ‘cowardly attacks’ on schools were avoided in the future.
How insurgents, bandits target Nigerian schools
The abduction of the schoolboys in Kagara, Niger State, is not the first in recent times, Nigerian states, most especially the northern region, have witnessed several attacks on schools.
On the 14th of April 2014, 276 schoolgirls of Government Girls Secondary School were abducted by the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, in Chibok town of Maiduguri in Borno State.
While some of the Chibok schoolgirls have been rescued, the whereabouts of 112 of the remainder remains unknown till date.
Also, on February 19, 2018, more than 100 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Dapchi Town in Yobe state.
Exactly a month ago, on December 17, 344 schoolboys were kidnapped from Government Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State.
While most of these schoolchildren have been recovered, a lot of them are still missing and Nigerian schools are still being targeted by bandits, terrorists and kidnappers.