#Editorial

Kaduna: Nigeria’s Unending Pupils  Abduction

IN a distressing turn of events, barely 24 hours after insurgents abducted 200 internally displaced women in Ngala, Borno State, over 280 pupils and teachers were seized by bandits at Government Secondary School and LEA Primary School in Kuriga, Kaduna State. The brazen attack occurred in the Kuriga area of the Chikun Local Government area, where bandits, armed and dangerous, invaded the schools, shooting indiscriminately before abducting their victims. Reports indicate that 187 children from GSS Kuriga and 25 of the 125 children missing from the primary school have returned.

WHILE the exact number of abductees remains uncertain, eyewitnesses report that the bandits retreated into the bushes with the victims. Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State has pledged to secure the release of the victims, yet residents attribute the recurring abductions to a glaring lack of security in the area. Besides, no fewer than 15 Tsangaya students were reportedly kidnapped by bandits at Gidan Bakuso area of Gada Local Government area of Sokoto State on Saturday.

THE scourge of school abductions has plagued Nigeria for years, with the infamous Chibok kidnapping of over 276 girls in 2014 serving as a haunting precedent. statistics  shows that roughly 1,591 school children have been kidnapped in Nigeria since 2014 and more than 61 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) were kidnapped by bandits between the period of 2014 and October 2023. The first major case of students’ abduction was in 2014 when Boko Haram insurgents abducted over 276 girls at Chibok, with Leah Sharibu representing the face of the victims who could up till now be rescued from the abductors.

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THE pervasive insecurity in northern Nigeria, extending to other parts of the country, reflects a broader failure of the government to ensure peace and security within the nation’s borders, tilting Nigeria towards being tagged a failed state. Rampant attacks on civilians, farmlands, government offices and businesses underscore the urgent need for comprehensive security reforms.

THE consequences of attacks on schools are dire: closure of schools, increased numbers of out-of-school children, child labour, and recruitment into terrorist camps exacerbate the already precarious situation. A report by The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2022 shows that insecurity has caused the closure of 11,536 schools in Nigeria since December 2020 and the education of 1.3 million children was affected in less than two years. The situation has not changed in 2024, a former Senator, Shehu Sanni confirmed in February. Nigeria currently has about 20 million out-of-school children, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has confirmed, making the country second behind India among nations with the highest rate of out-of-school children. With the Kaduna abduction and unending insecurity in the country, this figure may skyrocket.

THIS  sad reality seems to show that Boko Haram insurgents, officially known as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihād, who declared Western Education as forbidden, are winning the war against education in the northern part of the country. We have seen reports of the terrorist group violating children’s rights and reducing them to mere objects of trade. It is imperative that the government moves beyond rhetoric and takes concrete steps to address insecurity. While initiatives like the Safe School Initiative are commendable, they must be accompanied by robust enforcement and sustained investment in security infrastructure. The recent formation of the Safe School Response Team is a step in the right direction, but its effectiveness hinges on coordinated action and adequate resources.

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FURTHERMORE, the time for state police is long overdue. President Bola Tinubu’s reported consideration of its implementation underscores its urgency. Enhanced security infrastructure, including modernized policing tools like drones, is essential to apprehend perpetrators swiftly and prevent future atrocities. Taking about 280 people into the bushes doesn’t come easy. With appropriate technology such as the use of drones, the assailants wouldn’t go far before they would be apprehended. That begs the question about the involvement of those we entrust our lives and property to their hands. The government has always played to the gallery in identifying and prosecuting the sponsors of insurgents in Nigeria.

YET, addressing insecurity requires a holistic approach. Socio-economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to education and healthcare must be addressed to mitigate vulnerability to radicalization and criminal activities. The abductions of school children in Kaduna and Sokoto are not just tragedies; they are wake-up calls and stark reminders of the urgent need for decisive action to restore peace and security. As a nation, we must commit ourselves to ending insecurity and safeguarding the future of our children. Anything less would be an abdication of our responsibility to our citizens and our collective future.

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Kaduna: Nigeria’s Unending Pupils  Abduction

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