A retired senior officer of the Nigerian Air Force, Group Captain Sadeeq Shehu, has advised the Federal Government and authorities in Katsina on the rescue of the schoolboys who have been missing since two days ago.
He specifically warned against the use of force in the bid to rescue the boys and recommended negotiation as the first step to take.
Shehu, who is an adjunct professor at the George Marshall European Centre for Security Studies in Germany, made the remarks during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.
“As we are going into the rescue operation, I would like to sympathise with the people that are involved and also to commiserate with the security officers and at the same time, to sound a warning, in all honesty, I am not completely comfortable when I heard that there was an exchange of fire,” he said.
The security expert explained, “In a situation where you have children that are still with the hostages, and it is not even in a confined space … this is inside the forest, I think the idea of exchanging fire with people who are still holding our children should be properly thought about.
“There could be a lot of risks in that. When you have hostages with any criminal or any abductor, I think the first issue will be a negotiation.”
On Friday night, bandits invaded the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, a Local Government Area in Katsina with hundreds of students missing in the process.
Lack Of Training In Nigeria’s Security Architecture
The incident sparked an outrage with calls from various individuals and groups on the government to step up efforts towards securing the people and their properties.
While the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, confirmed that at least 333 students were missing, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, said the boys would be rescued in some few hours.
More than five hours after the minister made the comments, the students have yet to return as of press time.
In further reaction to the abduction, Shehu who is also a former Deputy Head of Security at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, decried the response time of the security forces to arrive at the school.
According to him, it took the security operatives about nine hours to respond as there was no response until the next morning.
The security expert insisted that engaging the bandits in a shootout was a wrong move to make, stressing that such a situation could expose the abducted students to danger.
“Again, it shows the training we lack in our security architecture. Every police department should have a negotiator because we cannot be firing into the bush when we don’t know where the children are.
“The issue is not throwing blames, but we have to accept that attacks on schools have become a function not only in Nigeria but in many other countries around the world,” he said.
Shehu added, “There are lessons to be learned from the government side, from the school authorities, you need to have the minimum security and safety standard.”