The total number of students of the Federal University, Gusau (FUGUS), Zamfara State who were abducted from their hostels in the early hours of Friday is yet to be ascertained.
The Zamfara police spokesperson, Yazid Abubakar disclosed this to NewsNGR on Sunday.
“Not yet, but the operation is ongoing with the view to rescue other victims,” Abubakar said after an inquiry by our correspondent.
Recall that armed men had invaded at least three hostels located in the off-campus area of the school in Sabon Gida Village where only females, reportedly reside.
NewsNGR gathered that it has been difficult to ascertain the number of students abducted because one of the hostels is newly built and some of the students were yet to resume school as of the time the incident occurred.
The situation has led to a rise in controversies surrounding the number of students abducted, and that of students rescued in the last two days.
While the state police said seven were rescued as of Saturday by the “striking force of the Command”, a Joint Task Force NorthWest, Operation Hadarin Daji on Friday, said it rescued six female students.
The Nigerian Army had accompanied their claims with masked pictures of the rescued victims.
However, a student of the university abreast of development surrounding the incident told NewsNGR that “There is an ongoing operation by the military both on air and land, and we have been assured that they won’t return until all the students are rescued.
“As of today, a total of 13 girls have been rescued. One was rescued yesterday and another one today. That is the information I have at the moment.”
The student who pleaded anonymity also gave the total number of students abducted as 24.
“I was at the hostel by 6:30 am that Friday, and up to now nobody knows the exact number of students that were carried by the bandits.
“As for me, I counted 24 students. I went to the hostels one after the other because they are three different hostels.
“In one of the hostels, 10 students were taken, the other one, nine and five in the last one. That is the number of students I could count, and It could be more,” the student said.
It is unclear if the assailants only abducted female students as the police in a statement issued on Saturday, revealed that the attackers also “entered the University premises and ransacked some offices as the school is unfenced”.
The school management is yet to issue an official statement on the incident, and according to sources who spoke to NewsNGR, the management will remain silent until all students have been rescued.
Consequently, the student union government, FUGUS, said it is doing its best to encourage the students, by assuring them of ongoing efforts by security agencies to rescue the affected victims.
The union asked the Federal Government (FG) to establish a permanent mobile base or an army base at the campus. They also asked the FG to fence the institution “because the bandits are coming from every angle into the school.”
While pictures of some of the abducted students are littered across some social media platforms, students of the school along with many Nigerians have commenced an online protest demanding the safe return of the victims.
The online protest with the following hashtags: #bringbackourgirls #bringbackFugusgirls #bringbackoursisters is gaining traction on Facebook and the macro blogging application, X as Nigerians demand accountability from the government and security agencies.
The Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal on Sunday, said he was “deeply saddened” by the incident, noting “We immediately mobilised security agents who succeeded in rescuing some of the victims and are still in hot pursuit of the criminals.”
He added, “I’ve been in constant engagement with our security heads in the State and other stakeholders to ensure the safe return of all other victims and quickly neutralise the situation.”