The headache for Katsina State Governor Aminu Masari is how to locate and bring back home 333 pupils that are still missing after weekend’s abduction of pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara.
Before this mass abduction, Katsina, along with other states in the Northwest, has been battling with banditry.
Only 426 pupils out of the total population of 884 in the hostel could be accounted for on Saturday.
But Governor Masari told Minister of Defence Gen. Bashiir Magashi (rtd), who led service chiefs to the state on a mission to rescue the kids that 333 pupils were still missing.
Masari said the abductors, believed to be bandits, were yet to make contact with the state government.
He added that no group had claimed responsiblility for the abduction.
The police said they rescued 200 pupils shortly after the incident. About 206 others surfaced before the arrival of the service chiefs.
Masari said his administration, in collaboration with security agencies, was combing Kankara and neigbouring communities in search of the missing students
He added: “The school’s pupil population is 839 and so far, we are yet to account for 333. We are still counting because more are still coming out of the forest.
“We are still searching for those missing because as a government, no group or association has contacted us or made any claims till date.’
Magashi promised that the armed forces had resolved to move fast and ensure speedy rescue of the students
The Defence Minister said: Within the next few days, we will ensure the students are back without collateral damages to the people of Katsina State. All hands are on the deck to ensure that this rescue move is given the greatest priority it deserves.
“We have the strategies; we have the intelligence and the information. We also have details of their whereabouts, movements and methods of operations.
“The task is easy for the armed forces and the police. The only thing is that we need prayers from you so that there will be no collateral damage in the event of being hostile.
“We assure you that all hands are on deck. But, the conclusion by the armed forces is that these hoodlums should be declared terrorists.”
Members of the delegation included National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno; Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Others are: Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Magaji-Bichi and Director-General, National Intelligence Agency NIA, Ambassador Ahmed Rufai’
As the delegation was meeting with Masari, a group of women went on a protest, calling for the rescue of the abducted pupils.
The women protested on the school premises, calling for quick rescue of the pupils.
The protesters, who were led by a woman who identified herself as one of the mothers of the abducted pupils, went around with placards with various inscriptions including: “Government must speak out’, ‘We want our children back’ and ‘We want security in Kankara.’