Pupils’ massacre: Parents storm hospital for kids
IT was a moving scene. Some parents wailing on seeing the charred remains of their loved ones. Others were searching for their children, who may have died in the Boko Haram’s Tuesday attack on the hostels of the Federal Government College, Boni Yadi, Yobe State, in which 43 pupils were reportedly killed. A parent said yesterday that 29 died.
There was outrage over the killings, with the United Nations (UN) and France leading the way.
At the Gen. Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital in Damaturu, the state capital where the injured were taken, officials were busy attending to distraught parents searching for their wards. Only three of the 11 injured were being treated at the hospital.
The others had been taken away by their parents.
Parents/Teachers’ Association Chairman Mohammed Kati Machina, an engineer, recounted the grim, but unavoidable task of burying the dead.
He said: “We buried two of the eight burnt students at Buni Yadi because they were so badly burnt. Ten bodies were brought to Damaturu, with six burnt beyond recognition.”
Machina, who spoke with The Nation in Damaturu, said 29 pupils were killed.
“We have an authentic report from the hospital and what we gathered is that only 29 students were killed. Twenty-one students were killed by gunshots while eight were burnt beyond recognition. Eleven of the students were injured and three have been admitted at the Gen. Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital in Damaturu. Some of the injured students have been taken away by their parents.”
“Two of the bodies were taken away to Gombe for burial by their parents,” he added.
The PTA chairman urged the Federal Government to provide security around schools, especially in Yobe and Borno states – two of the three states worst-hit by the Boko Haram insurgency. He sent his condolences to the families of the dead children.
The school was just resuming from a mid-term break when the insurgents struck.
A hospital source, who pleaded not to be named, said some parents came in search of their kids but could not find them.
He said: “The situation is so pathetic. Some of the parents were here earlier today in search of their missing children but could not find them. Maybe some of them are among those burnt beyond recognition. Nobody can tell for now”.
Machina said: “I am in contact with some of the parents who came from Borno and Gombe States to look for their kids. Though some of them cannot see or identify the bodies as those of their children, we are assuming that they could be the ones that are burnt beyond recognition”, Machina said.
He added that the school principal had traveled to Abuja to seek the approval of the Minister of Education, to give a mass burial for the remaining six burnt pupils.
The world was outraged yesterday over the killings.
UN, France kick
The United Nations (UN) and France said they were shocked by the incident. Senate President David Mark House of Representatives the All progressives Congress (APC), governors and professional groups expressed dismay at the killings.
UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki Moon, in a statement issued on his behalf, “strongly condemns the brutal slaying yesterday of dozens of students at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi in Yobe State, northeastern Nigeria, by unidentified gunmen”.
“He extends his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and hopes that the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the increasing frequency and brutality of attacks against educational institutions in the north of the country. He reiterates that no objective can justify such violence.”
France strongly condemned the dawn attack, saying it has “the hallmark of Boko Haram, an Islamist extremist group that claims affiliation with Al-Qaeda”.
A French statement said the attack on the high school students was “revolting”. Many of the students were shot in their beds or had their throats slit by the attackers.
Senate President David Mark, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Paul Mumeh in Abuja, lamented that the insurgents have no justification to kill students who neither offended them nor committed any crime, saying that “even in war situations, children and women are always spared”.
He described the killings as an open declaration of war on Nigerians, which he said cannot be justified.
Mark said: “This open declaration of war on everybody, especially defenceless students, cannot be justified. This is inhuman; it is animalistic and barbaric. It is unthinkable that this is happening in Nigeria.
“It is also curious that under an emergency rule when security operatives should be on red alert, this mayhem still persists. Honestly, this calls for soul searching and I believe the security authorities must rise to this challenge.”
He sympathised with the government and people of Yobe State, especially the families of the bereaved, saying that terrorism is not just a national but an international threat that calls for bravery on the part of every one to confront.
Tambuwal: fish out
Tambuwal said the only way to condole with the families of the victims and Nigerians was by fishing out the perpetrators of the dastardly act and bringing them to justice.
The Speaker, in a statement by his spokesman, Imam Imam, said: “While attending prayers organised to mark the 89th birthday celebration of former President Shehu Shagari in Sokoto, my attention was drawn to the horrendous act of barbarity visited on innocent college students in Yobe State.
“My first thoughts go to the families and friends of the kids brutally gunned down in an act of cowardice by people whose humanity must be called to question.
“While we must all join hands to bring this insanity to an end, we must, however, bear in mind that we are running out of excuses in our responsibility to our citizens.
“We in the House of Representatives feel the grief and pain of the families of the victims. In this their hour of need, we will stand with them hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder. We assure them that as brothers, we will continue to confront headlong, the threats of terror facing our nation, and we know we will come out stronger and victorious.”
Attack horrific, says
The APC “unreservedly condemned the horrific attack”, in a statement by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The party said the attacks, “which were extremely gory, even by the scorched-earth tactics of the terrorists, plumbs the depth of horror”.
“What a sad day for Nigeria and indeed for all of humanity, when innocent school children were used as soft targets by a group of cowardly terrorists, who have shed their toga of humanity on the altar of a meaningless ideology.
“We condole with the families of the victims as well as the government and people of Yobe State over this abominable crime. We urge the state and Federal Government to work together to ensure that schools in the state are adequately protected,’’ it said.
The APC urged President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately visit the state to offer succour to the families of the victims and the state government, saying that is the least the Federal Government can do to help soothe the pains of those involved.