Three students of the University of Abuja has been kidnapped and over N2million ransom demanded as the University has been in a forced lock down of attacks by bandits and kidnappers.
The Vice Chancellor, University of Abuja, Professor Abdul Rasheed Naalah has said that the institution was prone to constant attacks by bandits and kidnappers.
Prof. Naalah who made the disclosure yesterday during a meeting with personnel of the department of Development Control in his office at the University’s permanent site in Giri, Abuja, decried that two of his students had been kidnapped and over two million naira ransom demanded for their release.
According to him, the kidnappers and the bandits were illegally residing on parts of the institution’s over 11,000 hectares of land, and needed to be dislodged.
Describing the situation a “national emergency and a ticking time bomb”, Prof. Naala called on the FCT Minister, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello to expedite action on the demolition of illegal settlements on the University’s land to pave way for development and ensure security of students, workers and property.
He said: “The truth is that this University is in trouble right now because we have all sorts of people who are living on the campus, who are utilizing the land, who have no respect for the environment, it has even gone further that bandits are coming in and taking over land both within staff residences and outside.
“We now have our students being attacked. We are living in fear because of the bandits. Some of the indigenes give land to them without really knowing them. Some don’t even ask for permission they just take over.
“Many times, we have clashes. We are taking this issue seriously, unfortunately alarm was raised before and there were efforts that were made but were abandoned. So they have taken it that nothing will happen so they have grown so comfortable and they carry on with impunity.
“We need FCT Administration to work with us to the very end to get this campus safe. God forbid, if this is left unattended, we have no idea what crisis it will cause the nation.”
Naalah stated this and revealed that, the FG has approved 400 million naira fo the construction of a perimeter fencing round the land, but expressed fears the bandits might destroy the work once they started work, adding that they bandits had done so in past and the institution had to pay them to carry out some developments on its land.
“Whenever we want to construct any structure they attack us and many times we had to negotiate with them, sometimes they collect money from the University just to use the land of the university. I am tired of negotiating with bandits”, he lamented.
Chief Security Officer of the University, Ibrahim Burga, corroborating the Vice Chancellor, added: “Three female students were kidnapped in broad daylight. We have security report that armed bandits and kidnapper’s camps are around the hills and security agencies have already been informed of this development”.
Dean of the University’s student’s affairs, Dr. Abubakar Kari, while pointing that encroachment on the school land started about 10 years ago, revealed that it was concentrated in Gwako, Giri and Angwan Dodo areas.
In his response, Director, Department of Development Control, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Tpl Muktar Galadima, while parleying a question from journalists on whether his team would soon move in with his bulldozers, said due diligence must be followed before any demolition exercise could be done in the FCT.
Galadima said: “Demolition is always the last resort. We cannot just move in and demolish. We need to sit down on a round table with the university, village chiefs, the Area Council Secretariat and the Area Council Chairmen and point out the challenges to them and inform them of our intention, so that we can identify those areas that we think we can move out immediately.
“And also, the department of Resettlement and Compensation should come in because there are original communities that need to be valued, evaluated and then if the need for compensation arises, we can take care of that.”
Responding to a question on how long the process would take, Galadima said: “We have already started the process. They (university) came here, have written to the Hon, Minister and today, we visited them, so the process has commenced.
“So the next line of action now is for us to come out with an action plan. First thing is we have to call for sensitization of the villages, map out strategies -dates and time when we will go ahead and remove those structures.”