Insecurity: ABSU abduction should not linger, Rights Group warns

By Chijindu Emeruwa

A pro-democracy and human rights advocacy group, Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD) has expressed concern over the plight of the students of Abia State University ABSU, Uturu, reportedly abducted by yet to be identified gunmen on Wednesday night.

Akelicious gathered that the yet-to-be-confirmed number of students were kidnapped while transiting on a bus on Okigwe-Uturu Road.

FENRAD, in a press release signed by its Executive Director, Nelson Nnanna Nwafor and made available to Akelicious on Saturday, in Aba, warned that the abduction of the ABSU students must not linger as he expressed worried that nothing has been heard about them or their whereabout.

The Rights Group tasked Imo & Abia State Governments and her security agencies to live up to the security challenges before it gets out of hand.

FENRAD further cautioned that if this ugly situation sees light of further days it could become a regional norm for southeast.

The Environmental & Advocay body, urged Government of Abia state to, in the interest of peace, summon a statewide security dialogue and summit involving all and major critical stakeholders from security heads stationed in the state to traditional, religious leaders.

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According to the group, “Security deserves a bottom-up approach in which case it starts first from the locals than the current down-top arrangement where vertically, its foundation is standing on its head (the federal government) than on its feet (the state and local governments)”.

The release partly stated, “the Okigwe-Uturu road (bend) poses serious threat with gullies and hills on both sides and was at a time in a very bad condition. This road connects Abia State to Imo State and therefore one that requires a federal presence! With Nigerian Correctional Services facility, a military checkpoint and police station along that bend, we worries how a student and other passengers could be taken into custody within the coordinates of the area and yet no lead or trace has been established after two to three days.

“Recent happenings across the length and breadth of the nation, especially in her northern part, should have served a notice on all subnational governments to up the security situation on campuses within states. This should have been preemptive action unlike what Abia and Imo State are doing now. From Kankara to Nasarawa and thence Greenfield University to College of Forestry and Mechanisation Afaka both in Kaduna State, kidnapping of students is now a “handsome” industry in the nation; an ugly trend.

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“Abia State University, it should be noted, is located within 15-20 minutes drive from Akara-Isuikwuato road which only last year was in the news with cases of kidnapping allegedly by armed herdsmen and those the state government through its release stated where not from Abia. With the recent surge in kidnapping of varsity students by armed men, it requires that a school like ABSU is secure at all times given its proximity to this axis.

“This should also spur the five regional governors to action. Heretofore, the governors of the region have not tagged along other regions in localising or regionalizing security outfit to help the law enforcement agencies with intelligence as is happening in other regions. While the five governors flagged off the Ebube Agu outfit, not much has been heard of the group and the governors, as it were, seem to be resting on their oars. Like Ohanaeze Ndigbo opined, there need to be harmony worked out between the Ebube Agu and Eastern Security Network, ESN towards ensuring there is regional peace, relatively.

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“FENRAD urges the Abia State government to see to boosting the activities of the ministry it created for the purpose of forest and border guard operations and as well urge the regional governors to do the needful leveraging the Police Act 2020 which allows for community policing since security is a collective responsibility. This becomes more logical following the fact that entry and exit points of the region, just as those of the nation, are bare flanks lying fallowed, unmanned and are as such prone to invasion, incursion and infiltration”.

Meanwhile, addressing journalists in a press conference held in Umuahia, on Friday, the Vice Chancellor of the Abia State University, Professor O. M Ogbulu confirmed the abduction of the students by the gunmen.

The Vice Chancellor also confirmed that two of the students escaped from the hoodlums while one student still being held by them.

Professor Ogbulu assured that the school authority is working assiduously with security agencies to ensure the release of the students and prosecution of the culprits.

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