Less than two weeks after the abduction of 42 students from a secondary school in Kagara, Niger State reports filtered in that more than 300 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara, were kidnapped last night, Thursday 25/02/2021.
According to the BBC, a resident of Jangebe, who gave his name as Halliru Jangebe, told the News Agency of Nigeria that local vigilantes tried but failed to repel the invaders.
“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,”
For the parents of these children, and the residents of Jangebe, this is a tragedy of unimaginable magnitude, and probably only tragedy number two in recent history. Tragedy number one, which may even justify the query of whether Jangebe is jinxed, dates back to the beginning of the last decade when the name Jangebe became notoriously prominent.
Although Jangebe is a town with ancient history in Zamfara state, north-western Nigeria, the name of the town gained popularity in the year 2000, due to the notoriety of one of its own, Buba Jangebe, who made history as the first Nigerian to have his limbs amputated as a result of theft, since the return of the country to the rule of democracy.
After the re-introduction of the sharia law in 1999 by the government of Zamfara state, and based on the admission of guilt by Buba Jangebe, that he trespassed into a house and stole a bull, with a market value of about N368,000 today, a judge in the state ordered that he should have his right wrist amputated.
The sentence was ordered to be carried out on a market day, for members of the public to witness, and in order for it to serve as deterrence to others. Although Abubakar was given the right to appeal against the sentence, despite the widespread international condemnation of the amputation judgement, he refused to appeal against it.
To the advocates of Human Rights, it was an act of mutilation, that is synonymous with jeopardy, and runs in conflict with dignity.
Buba Jangebe openly admitted his guilt and proudly accepted the harsh punishment, in consideration for his criminal activity. After all, as he continued to tell the public at the time, the Islamic intention is to discourage individuals from committing the crime of theft, and as a Muslim, who believes in the provisions of the sharia law, he accepted his fate as something ordained by God.
Whether or not that punishment has helped to deter others from committing similar, or graver offences in Jangebe is another issue altogether, but the tragedy of last night, and the consequences of its attendant distress, have combined to cast a question on where Jangebe stands if juxtaposed between jinx and jeopardy.
To underscore the gravity of how bad insecurity has become in Nigeria generally and Zamfara state in particular, about two months ago, some 340 students were abducted from a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina state and transported to Zamfara state. The abductors, who rode on motorbikes, put together all the boys in the school, matching them through the bush into the Rugu forest in the neighbouring Zamfara state. While the wound of that jinx is yet to heal, then came the jeopardy of last night.
The Jangebe tragedy is particularly embarrassing because of its timing, having come at the time when the Governors of the 19 Northern States and traditional rulers of the region are meeting in Kaduna over the security challenges bedevilling the region, with special emphasis on the Kankara and Kagara school abductions.
Media reports are saying that the two-day meeting, which opened on Thursday, is also being attended by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawal, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and Information Minister, Lai Mohammed. Others in attendance are the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Mohammed Monguno rtd, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Director-General, State Security Service, Yusuf Bichi.
Also embarrassing is the evident failure of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi’s shuttle of diplomacy with the bandits. The Sheik had promised to help in stopping banditry and other criminal acts among the nomads, where, under circumstances that are viewed with scepticism by the critics, the Sheik recently visited the bandit’s hideouts in Zamfara state, and reportedly got the commitment of about 500 of them into repentance, some of whom are from Jangebe.
But alas, the attack of last night, has come to cast aspersion on the genuineness of the mission, the sincerity of the Sheik, as well as the devotion and dedication of the bandits, by asking for the position of Jangebe, when juxtaposed between jinx and jeopardy.
Ibrahim, a Media Advisor writes from Abuja.