In less than three weeks, there have been three disturbing attacks on educational institutions, along with a mass kidnapping of students, causing widespread fear and concern.
Families, educators, and student communities are urging the government to take immediate and comprehensive measures to enhance the security of schools. The recent incident occurred when armed individuals invaded the Federal University Gusau in Zamfara State on September 22, where they abducted 24 female students. Thankfully, security forces managed to rescue 13 of the captives, but the wave of violence continued in neighboring Katsina State less than two weeks later.
On October 4, another attack took place at the Federal University in Katsina, resulting in the abduction of five female students. A third assault occurred on October 10 at Nasarawa Varsity, leading to the kidnapping of four students. These events raise significant concerns, especially considering that these incidents occurred under the administration of [Insert Name], which commenced on May 29, 2023, with a promise to quell the escalating insecurity in the country.
In retrospect, it is shocking to note that approximately 41 students have been abducted during the less than five months of this new administration, even though some have been successfully rescued. Looking back further, it is even more alarming that over 204 students have been kidnapped in 16 separate incidents by gunmen since the beginning of 2023, with reports indicating that security forces managed to rescue 18 of these captives. It’s important to emphasize that these figures are based on reported cases in the media, confirmed by both the police and eyewitnesses.
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that many unreported incidents may have occurred, particularly in regions like Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina, where banditry is rampant. Therefore, the actual total of kidnapped students could be higher than the reported figure of 204 if all cases were included.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Education has stated that the government is diligently working to address the issue of mass kidnappings and has also mentioned the ‘Safe Schools Initiative’ as a part of these efforts. The security situation in schools had been a cause for concern even before these recent incidents, as kidnappers operated with impunity, abducting students at will.
The problem traces back to April 2014 when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State. Since then, there have been several incidents, including the abduction of nearly 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe State in February 2018 and the attack on Government Boys Science Secondary School in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State, where over 300 students were abducted on December 11, 2020.
It is essential to recognize that the safety of schoolchildren is a growing concern, and Nigeria’s kidnap-for-ransom industry is expanding, with children, particularly those from less privileged backgrounds, becoming the new targets. Security experts attribute this alarming trend to the government’s inability to curb these activities through security agencies, resulting in a surge in kidnappings.
In light of these developments, critical stakeholders in the education sector, including parents, teachers, and students represented by various associations, have called on the government to take urgent action to prevent mass kidnappings from spiraling out of control. Their concerns center on the government’s responsibility to provide security for schools and the need to reevaluate the allocation of security personnel to prioritize the safety of students and educators.
The security situation is now a matter of national concern, and those directly impacted by these events are demanding that the government enhances security measures around schools nationwide to protect the students and their future. The situation is seen as a national calamity, requiring swift and resolute action to ensure the safety of students and educators.
The government has pledged to address the issue through the ‘Safe Schools Initiative,’ but stakeholders stress the importance of turning these promises into effective action to prevent further abductions and protect the nation’s educational institutions.