Mass abductions of schoolchildren in various schools and higher institutions in Nigeria, especially in the northern part, are now becoming commonplace in the country. Security personnel and experts believe these attacks are being carried out by bandits, herdsmen, armed robbers and other rebel groups.
These criminals are simply motivated by money. The weak infrastructure of the security forces has resulted in the government paying ransoms to the bandits for the release of the kidnapped students and making mass abductions a source of massive income, and a lucrative business.
During the commemoration of the 2021 International Day to Protect Education from Attacks, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, condemned the incessant attack on schools. He said: “Nigeria cannot afford to leave incessant attacks and kidnappings on schools unaddressed. At least over 1.3 million students have been affected by abductions or attacks on schools in Nigeria in the last academic calendar.
I strongly condemn every form of attack that has kept as many children away from school. I call on the federal and the state governments to do more to protect schools from attacks, and to ensure that teaching and learning is safe and conducive in all schools in Nigeria. Children are traumatised, parents are scared, school administrators and teachers are afraid, Attacks on school are gradually spreading to areas not known to insurgents. With education under attack, the future of Nigeria is under threat.
This must stop now!”
Kallon noted that the right to education has fallen too often and the affected areas were denied access to learning. He further said: “With over 10 million children out of school, conflict has aggravated the situation and has deeply affected education and the prospects of many young people, especially the most vulnerable ones.
In the last academic year, it’s estimated that 1.3 million children have been impacted by attacks or abductions on schools in Nigeria. “These cases of kidnapping have made students across various schools and higher institutions in Nigeria scared, praying and hoping the so called ‘Bandits’, will not come visiting and kidnapping students in their schools.
Although, some are not scared, especially those who are in the western part of the country saying the security situation of these parts is better than the northern part of the country where they are having these issues.” Commenting, a 300Level student of Crawford University Ogun State, Angela Chukwu, said: “Honestly, I will not be surprised if the bandits attack my school.
Although our security is tight, they do not carry guns or any other weapons for defence because it’s a missionary school. So, if they want to attack my school, they will succeed because they will definitely be with weapons, while our security officers will not be with any.”
An undergraduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN), Naomi Amadioha, also believes bandits would succeed if they decide to attack her school. She said: “If herdsmen can raise their cattle on other peoples land, they can definitely attack my school if they want to.
This is Nigeria and the level of insecurity is serious. If they come in mass like they did when they abducted the Chibok girls, they will definitely bring down our security in less than an hour. This is because most of the security officials we have in my school are really old men.
These old men are not strong and agile, and cannot face the bandits. When the herdsmen saga was still rampant, students in my school had to watch our back every second, just to make sure we were safe. The federal government should do something about it.”
A student of the University of Lagos, David Ada’aja, said: “UNILAG security is always on high alert. Before any car can enter, the security guards will have to check, that’s if the bandits want to disguise themselves. But if they want to enter the gate with force, I think the mobile policemen at our gate will repel them. Those of us that live in Lagos are enjoying security. Lagos state only has to battle with cultists.”
A Covenant University student, Feyiyemi Okunuga, also has something to say about insecurity in schools. She said: “With the situation of things happening in Nigeria, I no longer trust people securing us. You will see different people trooping in and out of the school without proper scrutiny, both those who have business to do in school, and those who do not. It’s an easy access for anyone who wants to carry out any suspicious activity within the school vicinity.”
Miss. Kafayat Olalekan, an Oduduwa University in Osun State, student, said: “These bad guys have all the possible ways to abduct people from any school. Despite the fact that my school’s security is a bit tight, as a private university, I still believe the bandits can infiltrate and do whatever they want to do. Some of our hostels are close to the main road, and we’ve had cases of people coming to rob in our hostels at midnight on some occasions. If those robbers were bandits, they would have kidnapped every one of us without being challenged by our security guards.”
An undergraduate of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Enitan Gomenti, said: “I’m 101 per cent sure that if the bandits were to attack YabaTech today, they will succeed because issues of security had been a concern over the years I have spent in the college.
We have situations whereby cultists’ rivalry happens within the vicinity of the school with the security personnel’s taking to their heels, leaving their duty post. If security guards, who are supposed to protect us, take to their heels, how then can we be safe? Complaints have been made to the school authorities, but to no avail. I feel the federal government should look for possible ways to stop insecurities in schools and in Nigeria as a whole.”
According to a September report by reliefweb, at least 1409 students have been kidnapped from their schools in Nigeria since the first incident in the country’s latest school abduction epidemic which started in March 2020. In the 19 incidents up until the latest kidnap in Zamfara State, 17 teachers have also been kidnapped alongside their students, and at least ₦220 million has been paid out as ransoms.
Unfortunately, 16 of the victims have died in these incidents. Incidentally the first mass abduction of students took place on the night of April 14–15, 2014, when 276, mostly Christian female students aged from 16 to 18, were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School at the town of Chibok in Borno State Seven years later many of the girls are yet to be reunited with their parents with many of them reported to have been “married off” to the insurgents and have now had children for them.