The outlawed Boko Haram sect, whose members have been on the rampage in Borno and Adamawa States for over a month, spread its campaign of terror to neighbouring Yobe State Monday night where it killed 43 secondary school students in a Federal Government College.
Expectedly, the latest slaying of innocent citizens, especially pupils, has elicited reactions, with President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar condemning in the strongest possible terms the killings in the secondary school.
Though a senior teacher Ibrahim Abdul in the school, located in Buni Yadi, told the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, that 29 students were killed during the siege in their hostel, hospital sources revealed to journalists that 43 corpses were deposited at the morgue.
A hospital source at the Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, Damaturu said 43 corpses of students of the school, which was also attacked sometime last year, were deposited at the morgue.
The source told journalists that the studentsâ€™ bodies were brought in early yesterday morning.
Abdul said 11 students were also injured in the attack which started at about 11.30 pm and lasted till 4am.
Abdul, who lamented that the hoodlums had a field day, revealed that the 11 injured students had been taken to the hospital for treatment.
He claimed that the insurgents came in 11 Toyota Hilux trucks and immediately set about attacking the hostels.
He also disclosed that 40 houses, hostels, classrooms and staff quarters in the school were burnt.
The governor, who was visibly moved by the carnage he met in the school premises, promised to assist with N100 million for the school and victims.
He however called on the military to change the tactics deployed to fight the insurgents in order to restore sanity.
The Yobe State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Rufai, also confirmed to journalists that 29 students were killed in the siege.
Yobe State, which suffered two major attacks at its schools last year, has enjoyed relative peace for some months.
Reacting to the attack on the school, the president condemned the massacre of the students by suspected members of the Islamic sect.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president said he received with immense sadness and anguish, news of the callous and senseless murder by terrorists of scores of students at a college in Yobe State in the early hours of yesterday.
â€œOn behalf of himself and the federal government, President Jonathan extends his heartfelt condolences to the parents and relatives of the murdered students,â€ the statement said.
“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.
â€œHe 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.
â€œThe 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,â€ the statement added.
Similarly, the former vice-president condemned in strong terms the killings of dozens of pupils of the Federal Government College.
A statement yesterday, from his media office in Abuja said the former vice-president broke down in tears when he was informed about the massacre of the students and criticised the federal government for its prosecution of the anti-terror war in the North-east, adding that it was â€œmerely chasing shadows if school walls cannot be protected from armed attacksâ€.
Atiku particularly frowned on the impression given by Jonathan during his presidential media chat on Monday during which the latter had declared that the government had been successful at pushing the armed attacks to the fringes of the country.
â€œMy heartfelt condolences go to the families of the slain school pupils. It is unfortunate that innocent school children will become victims of armed attacks.
â€œThis will not be the first time in recent times that school children are being attacked, and it is particularly disheartening that the federal government is yet to devise a strategy of keeping our schools safe from terror attacks. If our counter-insurgency strategies are not strong enough to keep our children safe inside their schools, then one must wonder if such a strategy isnâ€™t merely chasing shadows,â€ Atiku said.
According to him, â€œIt is important that the federal government ups its counter-insurgency strategy and desist from taking credit for pushing armed attacks to the fringes, as the president would like to put it. No Nigerian’s life is less in value to another.â€
He said it was imperative for government to ensure security in schools, in particular the Federal Government Colleges, because of their unique role in forging national unity among pupils from diverse backgrounds in the country.