In another fear-instilling tragedy that has plunged the whole country into a nightmarish ordeal amid mounting security crises, terror-personified and weapon-wielding bandits stormed Kagara community to perpetrate an unjustifiable sin against Niger state.
The bandits — terrorists and criminals as some Nigerians wish to identify them — shot Kagara into the spotlight on Tuesday, February 16, as they arrived in hundreds on motorcycles and abducted 27 students and 15 teachers in the community.
During the outrageous operation, a student was reportedly killed as they shot sporadically in order to scare people away and register the terror in their presence.
The abduction is coming months after a similar plot played out in Katsina state where schoolboys were abducted in Kankara local government – and of course two years after the abduction of some schoolgirls in the Dapchi community of Yobe state.
Exploring insecurity in the Niger and US’ earlier warning
It would be recalled that bandits embarked on kidnap rampage across the country amid security crises which forced the federal government to change the service chiefs in January — albeit amid overwhelming criticism.
Legit.ng confirms that Niger has become a new fortress of different gangs of bandits and kidnappers after cementing their presence in Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina.
The United States had issued a warning in August 2020 that Boko Haram terrorists were moving to Niger, causing mayhem as they occupy forest reserves, accumulate weapon and attack vulnerable communities in the state.
However, the lackadaisical attitude of the government projected by a statement of the Nigerian military dusting off the presence of insurgents made insecurity to fester in Niger, resulting in the Kagara abduction.
In Niger, abductors kidnapped wedding guest and demand N500 million ransom
Noteworthy to mention is that in what shot a dart into the counter-insecurity effort in the country, a number of travellers were abducted by suspected bandits in Niger state.
The travellers were kidnapped on Sunday, February 14, on a highway, with their abductors reportedly demanding a whopping sum of N500 million for their release.
A video of the travellers begging the government to secure their freedom was released by a group of criminals on Tuesday, February 16.
What is next as government-bandits go into negotiation?
Since the Kagara abduction has become an emergency crisis, the Niger state government led by Governor Sani Bello Abubakar and the federal government have been making huge strides to rescue the schoolboys and their teachers.
Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, a respected Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, is one of the notable personalities drawn to the planning board.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng analyses many factors that may play out before the release of the victims.
For a violent insurrection group that has emerged in Nigeria, the government has always been finding a way to initiate a dialogue. This ploy helped to rescue the Kankara boys in Katsina.
And of course, many bandits are given amnesty in the process, provided they decide to drop their weapons and turn good leaves.
So, there is a possibility of the government and the bandits striking an amnesty deal for the repentants criminals for the release of the Kagara victims.
Although it was later refuted by the minister of information, Lai Mohammed, a budding news portal in Nigeria claimed the government had paid N800 million to the bandits to secure the release of the victims.
Kagara, without any iota of doubt, is a case of familiar kidnapping. So, like the Kankara saga, the federal government may be forced to pay a huge amount.
3. Prisoner swap
Sultan of Sokoto state, Muhammad Abubakar, was not the first person to declare that the abduction of Kagara boys shared a similitude with the way Boko Haram operated in 2014 when they kidnapped the Chibok girls.
Prior to the emir’s position on the Kagara saga, there have been arguments that the kidnappers may not be bandits but terrorists.
If it is true that perpetrators of Kagara abductions are terrorists, another demand that may be brought to the table is a prisoner swap.
Since the renewed efforts and onslaught towards the fight against terror in the northeast, many Boko Haram and ISWAP fighters have been killed and arrested. The kidnappers may opt for the release of their boys before freeing the Kagara students.
The Kagara abduction, without any iota of doubt, is an indication that the war against insecurity, farmer-herder crisis, and ethnic tension is suffering a huge setback.
While it is believed that the victims will be safely rescued and returned home, the federal government, in collaboration with other stakeholders, must intensify efforts in the fight against terror and sundry crimes.
Similarly, in the cause of negotiating with bandits, the government must ensure that it does not make kidnapping lucrative jobs for the idle hands in the northern region.
Rahaman Abiola is a result-oriented journalist and content writer with a firm grip of over 5-year corporate experience stranding diverse roles in digital & traditional media and social media communication.
A published literary writer, freelancer and public commentator, he has written over 100 essays covering diverse issues on economy, politics and current affairs, entertainment and leadership published in virtually all notable Nigerian national dailies and digital media in Nigeria.
He is a graduate of English Literature, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Follow him on Twitter via @ShugabanR.