The Chairman, Wushishi Local Government Area of Niger State, Danjuma Suleiman Nalango, has ordered the closure of all public and private primary, secondary and tertiary schools in the local government area over a planned banditry attack on schools to abduct school children in Zungeru and neighbouring communities.
The Council Chairman told our correspondent via telephone that there was an intelligence report by the security agencies that armed bandits in their numbers were planning to strike in the day at Niger State Polytechnic and Government Girls Day Secondary School, both located in the outskirt of Zungeru town.
He said the measure was to avoid a repeat of what happened in Tegina where Islamiyyh pupils were abducted.
“The decision to close the schools was as a result of banditry activities in the local government.
“The security agencies brought to my notice and even that of the governor that they have intercepted communication on a plan to abduct school children in my local government.
“And the communication they intercepted particularly pointed to Zungeru as the area of the planned attack.
“Although yesterday (Saturday), I was told that the kingpin had been arrested. The communication was highly classified. But they intercepted that communication and even the time that they were going to strike.
“So, it was duty-bound for us as representative of the people, we sat down myself in my capacity as the council chairman, the security agencies and we resolved that proactive measure should be taken before any damage is done.
“We wouldn’t want what happened in Tegina to repeat itself. So, we closed down even private schools,” the council chairman said.
He, however, noted that: “We know the inconveniences considering the importance of education, especially now that schools were about to write their promotion examinations. But having analysed that particular threat, we believed it was better for us to close the schools temporarily to allow security operatives to continue to conduct their operations because we don’t know when they will strike because they even said they will strike in the afternoon, about 300 of them will strike precisely at 4pm.
“For bandits to tell you that they will strike in broad daylight, that tells you the magnitude and the number at which they will enter Zungeru and overwhelm everybody. So, we are trying to avoid what happened in Tegina.”
Nalango said Zungeru in particular had been threatened by bandits in recent times.
One of the incidents was the abduction of the Permanent Secretary, Niger State Ministry of Transport.
While pointing out that “no school is safe in Zungeru, they can enter anywhere,” he said the schools would be reopened if the security situation in the area improves, and appeal to parents and school proprietors for understanding.