Written by Hamisu Kabir Matazu, Damaturu & Isiaka Wakili
.Army withdrawn a day to attack – Residents
Dozens of students were killed when suspected insurgents attacked a boarding co-educational school in Yobe State overnight Monday.
All the victims were teenage boys and 11 others were seriously injured, while of the most of the school was burned to the ground.
The Federal Government College Buni Yadi, in Gujba Local Government Area, is situated few kilometres away from the College of Agriculture Gujba where 40 students were killed on September 29 in a similar raid blamed on the Boko Haram sect.
In Buni Yadi, gunmen stormed the school in nine Hilux vans shortly before midnight Monday and blocked the entrance to the hostel.
They then gathered male students and opened fire on them, survivors told Daily Trust.
Some of the dead were slaughtered, while most of the corpses were burnt beyond recognition in the razed buildings.
Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who visited the school hours after the violence, said 29 students were killed, but Reuters news agency quoted a hospital worker as saying the total body count stood at 59 as more bodies were brought in.
“Fresh bodies have been brought in. More bodies were discovered in the bush after the students who had escaped with bullet wounds died from their injuries,” said Bala Ajiya, an official at the Specialist Hospital Damaturu.
The gunmen set fire and destroyed 24 buildings in the school, including hostels, administrative blocks and staff quarters.
Yobe State Police Commissioner Sanusi A. Rufa’i said: “All the 29 killed were male students; none from the female students was killed.”
Survivors said the gunmen gathered the female students together before telling them to go away and get married, with a warning that those who remained in the school could be killed later.
Aliyu Ayuba, a JSS 3 student, who escaped the attack with a bullet in his back, said: “They were young men and boys dressed in military uniforms and mufti. They asked us to gather in one place and continued shooting sporadically. I cannot tell how I managed to escape but all my roommates were killed and burnt inside the hostel.”
“We shouted for help but nobody came to our rescue, not even Police and military men, to help,” he added.
Malam Samaila Idris, a teacher, told journalists that the attackers drove into the school premises in nine Hilux vans at around 11.20pm Monday and started the operation which lasted for more than 5 hours.
“In fact, we were all thinking they were military personnel because some that stayed at the gate were playing music, until the gun shots started. We in the staff quarters fled our homes before they came and burnt all the structures,” he said.
Idris said seven students who sustained various wounds were taken to hospital.
Residents in the town told our correspondent that the security checkpoint in the area was removed just a day to the attack.
“We were surprised when the checkpoint disappeared on Sunday and at this trying moment. The secondary school pupils were left to their fate,” a resident said.
“Some students were slaughtered, others shot dead. I counted many lifeless bodies,” he added.
Daily Trust gathered that some of the assailants rode to the school on bicycles and motorcycles.
Another student who escaped with a cut on his throat and a broken arm confirmed that no female student was hurt.
“But, I overheard them warning them to stay off school or risk being attacked whenever they return,” he said.
A resident, who was part of early rescue operation, said it was the most horrible experience he had ever since. “Most of the dead students were burnt beyond recognition,” he said.
When our correspondent visited the hospital, thousands of people were seen, including parents of the deceased as well as sympathisers.
Many of the parents could not identify copses of their sons because they were burnt beyond recognition.
“My child pleaded with me to allow him to stay back at home for a few more days after the school resumed but I refused. Now I can’t even identify his corpse,” a parent said as he sobbed.
Gaidam seeks more troops
Meanwhile, Governor Gaidam has urged President Jonathan to deploy more troops to contain insurgency in the state.
“It is most unfortunate that in the past one year, we have experienced these ugly and dastardly attacks by insurgents four times,” he said.
“This attack, like others before it, is barbaric, wicked, callous, and we totally condemn it. We are devastated.”
He added: “It is unfortunate that up to five hours when this massacre took place, there were no security agents around to stop or contain the situation. I have also been informed that the military here in Yobe State lack adequate number of troops on the ground…Even so, they must change their strategy of operation.
“If the military was pulling out some troops from the town and taking them somewhere for an operation, there must be some others left on the ground to deal with any unforeseen circumstance which might arise. So, I think, they should change their strategy.
“It is unfortunate that our children in schools are dying from lack of adequate protection from the Federal Government and this thing is happening only in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in the northeast part of the country.
“I also want to use this opportunity to call on the President of the Federal Republic and the military high command to, as a matter of urgency, send more troops to Yobe so that they deal more effectively with the insurgency because currently there is not enough number of troops on the ground to cover all our schools in Yobe.
“The Federal Government should be much more serious than before to ensure that the inadequacies are addressed. Otherwise, they (Boko Haram) may gradually wipe out all the people in Borno and Yobe.”
In his reaction, President Jonathan described the attack as senseless and callous, and assured that the security forces were determined to end the insurgency.
“The president wholly condemns the heinous, brutal and mindless killing of the guiltless students by deranged terrorists and fanatics who have clearly lost all human morality and descended to bestiality,” Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said in a statement.
“He assures the nation that his administration will not relent in its ongoing efforts to end the scourge of terrorism in parts of the country which has sadly claimed more innocent lives today (yesterday).
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies will continue to prosecute the war against terror with full vigour, diligence and determination until the dark cloud of mass murder and destruction of lives and property is permanently removed from our horizon.”