With the kidnapping of 121 students in Kaduna State, the total number of students held by bandits has risen to 348.
Three groups of the 348 children are still languishing in bandit dens, many weeks after they were taken from their schools in the states of Niger, Kebbi, and Kaduna.
The crisis deteriorated on Monday when hoodlums invaded the Bethel Baptist High School in Maraban Rido, Kaduna State’s Chikun Local Government Area, abducting 121 students.
In the wake of increased school attacks, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization warned that parents may no longer prioritize the education of their children and youth in the afflicted areas.
Arewa Consultative Forum, a pan-northern socio-political organization, chastised the Federal Government, stating it was not proactive.
In an interview with journalists on Tuesday, the Proprietor of Bethel Baptist High School, who is also the President of the Kaduna Baptist Conference, Rev. Ishaya Jangado, claimed the bandits had called the school management and indicated they were holding 121 kids.
136 students from Tegina’s Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, who were kidnapped on May 30, have still to be released because some parents told one of our journalists that they could not collect the N100 million requested by the gunmen.
19 days after hoodlums abducted 94 students and eight personnel from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri in Kebbi State, 83 pupils and seven staff members remain in captivity.
A few days after the abduction, forces from the Nigerian Army recovered eight students and one instructor. Three pupils, on the other hand, were said to have died during separate rescue operations.
However, hoodlums who kidnapped eight students and two employees from the Kaduna State-owned Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic in Zaria on June 10 have not yet been released.
The mother of a Senior Secondary School 3 pupil who was taken at the FGC Kebbi described her ordeal as “terrible” on Tuesday.
“The trauma of my innocent son in kidnappers’ cave with no contact could only be imagined until my phone called from an unusual number on Tuesday last week,” the mom said on condition of anonymity. With anxiety, I answered the phone, only to hear my son’s voice. He said he was communicating with me from an unknown place, using their phone and under the watchful eye of the kidnappers.
“I requested him to give the phone to the kidnappers so that I could appeal with them for their release, but he stated the kidnappers refused to talk to any parents because their grievance was with the government. He stated that they were not seeking a ransom, but rather the release of four of their leaders who were being held by the government.
“I didn’t have the luxury of continuing the conversation with him after that before the phone was cut off. Since then, I’ve resorted to praying that the students and staff would be able to return safely thanks to government intervention.”
The ACF has expressed alarm about their confinement.
The ACF was also concerned about the government’s lack of proactive measures to combat kidnapping in the region.
The ACF’s National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, shared the northern body’s concern with us in a chat, noting that the ACF believes the government is not on top of information collection to prevent kidnappings.
“The best approach to deal with the threat of kidnapping is for the government to be more proactive in intelligence gathering,” stated an ACF spokesman.
“Once we have good intelligence, we will be able to act quickly and put an end to kidnappings. Allowing people to be kidnapped has the disadvantage of making it more difficult to get them back through ransom payments or military action. This is the unfortunate circumstance we find ourselves in right now.”
Col. Hassan Stan-Labo (retd.), a security specialist, advised the Federal Government to deploy security agencies with zeal and vigor in dealing with killer herdsmen, bandits, and kidnappers.
Stan-Labo believes that the government should pursue criminals and hoodlums in the same way that it pursued Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, and Sunday Igboho, a Yoruba nation campaigner.
In answer to a question from one of our correspondents, UNESCO stated that school assaults will have a negative impact on learning in the impacted communities.
“All types of attacks targeting or affecting students, education institutions, and their personnel (teachers, principals, guards, etc.) have considerable negative impacts on continuity and quality of learning, both in the short and long term,” the organization stated in a response sent by its Press Service Officer, Thomas Mallard. This is in addition to the tremendous psychosocial damage that the afflicted populations are experiencing.
“No kid should ever have to choose between education and their life, yet this is often the situation in many nations, including some communities in Nigeria, when education becomes the target of direct and relentless attacks, resulting in the death, injuries, and abduction of students and educators. As a result, several schools have been closed.
“Where they aren’t, parents have lost faith in the rule of law as a means of protecting their children and youths and ensuring their protection and safety. Such a lack of confidence among communities may cause them to prioritize education for their children and youths, which has a negative impact on societies’ ability to achieve their goals today and in the future.
“More crucially, there is uncertainty in educational planning and school calendars within education management, which adds to the complexities and challenges of providing quality and equitable education for all, as outlined in the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). UNESCO, as the official agency for SDG4 monitoring and coordination, will continue to collaborate closely with all Nigerian education partners in discovering and implementing long-term solutions to these problems.”
The group said it will continue to “work with other education partners and government institutions to urge for the speedy implementation of required steps to protect the security of education systems and the safety of students.”
It asserted that it was collaborating with governments to assist them in fostering a culture of peace and nonviolence among community members.
“Only via such an inclusive and holistic approach to learning can the bad impact of such repeated attacks on education be repaired over time with a road toward peaceful coexistence,” it continued.