IN yet another brazen act of bestiality, gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram members, yesterday morning invaded Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State and shot dead 29 students and teachers of the co-educational institution.
Buni/Yadi is the headquarters of Gujba Local Council and is 54 kilometres south of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday in Abuja faulted Federal Governmentâ€™s measures in tackling the security situation in the North-East region of the country.
In a related development, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has condemned President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s vituperation against Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima during his media chat on Monday night, calling it unwarranted, unpresidential and petty.
According to a member of staff of the school, Isa Buba, the gunmen came through Biu Road from the Gujba Forests in 27 Hilux pickup vehicles and motorcycles laden with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) before attacking the studentsâ€™ hostels around 1:45 a.m.
â€œWe were caught unawares, shocked and terrified, when an armed gang of terrorists attacked us here yesterday about 1:45 a.m. Some of the students cried for help, while others fled into the hostel ceilings, but the gunmen set the hostel on fire, like they did at the College of Agriculture last year at Gujba, killing several students and some members of staff of the college,â€ Buba said.
Also, a resident of Buni/Yadi, Malam Adam Yirwa, said yesterday on telephone: â€œThey shot dead two security guards at the gate before proceeding to the staff quarters and killed three of our teachers before soldiers and the policemen rushed to the school.â€
He added that the councilâ€™s secretariat complex and a high court were among the public buildings torched by the suspected insurgents.
The spokesman of Joint Task Force (JTF) in Yobe State, Capt. Lazarus Eli and the state Police Commissioner, Rufai Sanusi, confirmed the incident yesterday to The Guardian.
Eli said: â€œThe attacks on this college occurred in the early hours of today (Tuesday) when gunmen came with explosives and set the college premises on fire about 1:00 a.m. We are yet to get the details of casualties; as soon as we collate the details, youâ€™ll be briefed.â€
The police chief also said that 29 students and teachers were confirmed dead in the attacks.
He said other property destroyed in attacks included the councilâ€™s secretariat complex, a high court and several vehicles belonging to the college members of staff and residents of Buni/Yadi.
On whether arrests were made, he however, said: â€œAs investigations continue by our officers and men in the field, there were no arrests made yet by either the military or police.â€
In a statement by his media office, Atiku particularly condemned the impression given by President Goodluck Jonathan during a presidential media chat on Monday that the government has been successful at pushing armed attacks to the fringes of the country.
â€œMy heartfelt condolences go to families of the slain school pupils. It is unfortunate that innocent school children will become victims of armed attacks.
â€œThis will not be the first time in recent times that school children are being attacked, and it is particularly disheartening that the Federal Government is yet to devise a strategy of keeping our schools safe from terror attacks. If our counter-insurgency strategies are not strong enough to keep our children safe inside their schools, then one must wonder if such a strategy isnâ€™t mere chasing shadows,â€ Atiku said.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said President Jonathan was wrong to have threatened, no matter how subtly, to withdraw from Borno the troops who are battling against Boko Haram insurgents, and urged him to apologise to the people of Borno and to all Nigerians for the presidential indiscretion.
It said the threat, which was in response to the statement credited to the governor that the soldiers need to be better equipped and more motivated, showed clearly that President Jonathan does not have a full grasp of what is expected of him as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
â€˜â€™Mr. President, your most important duty as President is to ensure the welfare and security of all Nigerians, irrespective of the criticisms you may face or whether or not they voted for you. Therefore, you are not doing anyone a favour by performing that duty. It is the role you swore an oath to perform.
â€˜â€™Also, even if you feel that the governor should not have made the statement he made, it is incumbent upon you as the President and father of the nation to take the higher road instead of choosing a public forum to air your grievances. Wittingly or unwittingly, Mr. President, you have played into the hands of the insurgents who must by now be gloating at the discordant tunes in government over the battle against them,â€™â€™ APC said.
It said based on the anger exhibited by President Jonathan while commenting on Governor Shettimaâ€™s statement, the party was justified in its call on the President not to go ahead with his reported plan to remove the governor and replace him with a military administrator.