A sidelined leader among the bandits has been identified as the mastermind behind the abduction of female students from the Federal University in Gusau, Zamfara State. This leader’s decision to carry out the abduction was driven by his frustration at being excluded from negotiations by various teams dispatched by the federal government to address the ongoing kidnapping and violence in Zamfara,Daily Trust reports.
According to sources, while different negotiation teams engaged with various groups of bandits, they did not approach the specific leader responsible for the abduction. This exclusion led him to take matters into his own hands to prove his influence and capability.
The leader, therefore, led his supporters to the university hostel and neighboring areas, where they abducted an unspecified number of students and local residents.
The university came under attack by the bandits on September 21, resulting in the abduction of female students who were subsequently taken into the nearby bushes. While some have been rescued, others remain missing.
Notably, the group responsible for the abduction has not yet made any public demands for ransom, which differs from the usual modus operandi of bandits who typically demand a specific sum of money shortly after their criminal actions.
Zamfara State has been severely affected by banditry in the North West region, with numerous groups involved in such activities, holding hundreds of individuals in captivity. Some of these groups are highly organized and capable of causing significant destruction to communities, while others engage in various criminal activities.
One week after the recent abduction at the university, neither the federal government nor the Zamfara State Government has provided verified information regarding the total number of kidnapped students. Additionally, a dispute between the two governments arose when Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara accused the federal government of secretly negotiating with bandits in the state without involving the state government.
The federal government, represented by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, countered these allegations, accusing the governor of politicizing security matters. In response, Governor Lawal’s spokesperson, Sulaiman Bala Idris, emphasized that the state government sought clarification regarding covert negotiations between federal government agents and bandits.
Efforts to gain insight into the negotiations led by different teams, including those from the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), the presidency, and the Ministry of Defence, have not yielded concrete information at this time. However, credible sources indicate that negotiations were indeed taking place.
Professor Usman Yusuf, a former executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), criticized the handling of negotiations by the federal government, linking it to the abduction of the university girls. He highlighted the lack of coordination and trust-building in these negotiations as factors contributing to the current crisis.
Furthermore, he questioned the sudden influx of different stakeholders to Zamfara to address the issue, suggesting that the change in approach to negotiations may have played a role in the escalation of the situation.
Yusuf called for a reevaluation of the negotiation process and suggested building upon previous efforts to address the crisis effectively.