In a desperate bid to secure freedom for the 317 female students abducted Friday morning at Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State, Governor Bello Matawalle has engaged Auwal Daudawa, who last December masterminded the abduction of over 300 students at Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, to help plead with the Jangebe kidnappers.
Daudawa, who hails from Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State, had nine days ago accepted the Matawalle amnesty with some of his gang members. They also submitted their arms and ammunition, with a promise to support Matawalle’s push against banditry.
Sources said Daudawa is familiar with the bandits that abducted the Jangebe schoolgirls and that Matawalle called him on Friday with a plea to speak to the abductors to drop their guns and free the girls without any ransom.
Another source said Matawalle, after enlisting Daudawa, for the push to free the Jangebe schoolgirls, also called another notorious bandit, Zakoa Buhari, to join the pressure on the Jangebe kidnappers.
Zakoa Buhari, the son of dreaded bandit, Tsoho Buhari, notoriously known as ‘Buharin Daji’ had also repented and surrendered his weapons to the Zamfara State Government last Thursday.
“The Zamfara governor is asking for the help of these repentant bandits because they can easily influence the abductors of the schoolgirls to release them without bloodshed. One thing you can’t take away is that Daudawa and Zakoa Buhari know most of these bandits. They will be very useful in the push to free these girls peacefully. This is why Matawalle engaged them,” said the source.
Meanwhile, the military, the Nigerian Police Force, men of the Department of State Security and other security agencies early Friday morning commenced a manhunt for the bandits that abducted the Jangebe schoolgirls.
The abductors, in their hundreds, invaded the town early yesterday morning, went straight to the school and took away the girls.
A statement issued Friday by the Force Headquarters confirmed the joint operation to rescue the abductees.
It said in the statement: “Operatives of the Nigeria Police commenced a coordinated search and rescue operation, involving the deployment of both ground and aerial assets, aimed at locating and rescuing the students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe.
“To ensure the success of the ongoing operation, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate deployment of two operational surveillance helicopters to Zamfara State.”
The statement said the deployment was in addition to the personnel of Operation Puff Adder II earlier deployed to the state to support efforts by the Command to combat banditry, kidnapping and other related crimes.
It said the IG, while condemning the barbaric and callous abduction of the innocent female students, assured that the police and other security forces would not relent until the abducted students are successfully rescued and reunited with their families.
“The joint rescue operation is being carried out by the police, the military and other members of the law enforcement community with support from the state government and other stakeholders.
“The IGP has called for calm and enjoins members of the public, particularly the people of Zamfara State not to hesitate in availing the police and the law enforcement community with useful information that can assist in the rescue of the abducted school girls,” the statement said.
A staff of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, who begged for anonymity, said the bandits arrived early yesterday with Hilux vehicles and motorcycles and forcefully evacuated the students.
He narrated that some of the bandits were in military uniforms and pretended to be security personnel, then later broke into the students’ hostels and abducted more than 300 students.
“When they came into the school, we thought they were security personnel but to our utmost fear and dismay, they started putting the girls into Hilux vehicles and motorcycles then drove out of the school,” the source said, adding that the bandits were in the school for several hours without any challenge due to absence of security agents.
Also, a resident who gave his name as Haliru Jangebe said the local vigilantes had tried to repel the invaders but were overpowered.
“The bandits were too many and they all seemed to be carrying heavy arms as we heard gunshots from all parts of the town and when the shots stopped, we heard that the students had been taken away.”
A parent of one of the girls, who gave his name as Malam Lawal Jangebe said, “I nearly fainted when I heard about the abduction of the students, including my daughter.”
The gunmen attacked some houses on their way to the school, Abubakar Jangebe, a resident said.
“They took some of the girls and went into the bush. We don’t know what is happening right now.”
The Commissioner of Police, Zamfara State Command, Abutu Yaro said they have information that the girls were moved to a neighbouring forest, and they are being cautious in their tracing.