By Ismaila Chafe/ Mohammed Tijjani/ Philip Yatai
Abuja, Kaduna, June 5, 2021
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja directed the military, police and intelligence agencies to ensure safe and early release of all kidnapped victims.
The president, who gave the directive in a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, expressed serious concern over attacks on Kaduna and Niger States, largely targeted at students.
While noting ongoing deployment of additional security personnel to all troubled areas, the president urged security outfits to “act swiftly” to rescue all school boys and girls in the affected states and ensure their safe return.
Buhari said the disturbing incidents of students kidnapping, mostly in Northern states, was already threatening to undermine efforts in boosting school enrolments in states that were adjudged educationally backward.
He called on state governments to ensure compliance with UN-supported Safe Schools Programme, which the administration had adopted.
The president described kidnapping as cowardly and despicable, as well as an assault on affected families and the nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the most recent kidnapping of school children was reported in Kaduna state where some students of Bethel Baptist School Kaduna were abducted by gunmen on Sunday.
NAN, however, reports that few hours after the abduction of the Baptist students, security personnel foiled an attack by gunmen on another school, Faith Academy, located at Mararaban Rido, Chikun Local Government Area of the state.
Reports revealed that the gunmen forcefully gained entrance into the school by breaking part of the perimeter fence of the college before military personnel foiled the attack.
Meanwhile, Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State, has condemned Monday’s kidnapping of an unspecified number of students of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Chikun Local Government Area of the State.
The condemnation is contained in a statement issued by the State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, on Monday in Kaduna.
Aruwan said Gov El-Rufai described the incident as unfortunate and “an untold evil to humanity and the cause of education.”
Aruwan recalled that distress calls were received in the early hours of Monday detailing an incursion of bandits into the school.
“The bandits shot sporadically as they advanced to the hostels and kidnapped an unspecified number of students,” the commissioner said.
According to him, a team of Military and Police personnel were mobilized to the school and they pursued the bandits in a bid to avert their evil intention.
He said reports from security agencies indicated that 28 students had been accounted for while an unspecified number were abducted by the bandits.
The Commissioner said security agencies had assured the State Government of vigorous search and rescue efforts to locate and rescue the kidnapped students.
“The Governor is following the development and receiving hourly situation reports,” Aruwan said.
As a result of the incident, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Muhammad, said on Monday, that schools that are vulnerable to kidnapping in the state would remain closed until the security situation improves.
Muhammad stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.
He confirmed the government directive for the closure of 13 schools adjudged to be unsecured and vulnerable to kidnapping.
“We allowed the schools to remain open because we were assured by the schools’ administrators of a strong arrangement with security agencies to secure the schools.
“But today’s incident at Bethel Baptist High School showed that the security arrangement is not working, so we decided to close the schools to safeguard our children.
“The affected schools will remain closed until the security situation improves or if the school administrators come up with a convincing security arrangement,” the commissioner said.
Reacting to the kidnap of the students at Bethel Baptist High School, the Kaduna State Schools Quality Assurance Authority ordered 13 schools in areas considered vulnerable to bandits’ attacks to shut down immediately.
The letter directing the closure, signed by the Director-General of the Authority, Hajiya Umma Ahmed, identified the affected schools as Faith Academy, along Kachia Road, adjacent to Jakaranda; Deeper Life Academy, Maraban Rido; ECWA Secondary School, Ungwar Maje; Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi; St. Peters Minor Seminary, Katari; Prelude Secondary School, Kujama; Ibiso Secondary School, Tashar Iche; Tulip International School (Boys) and Tulip international (Girls) School; Goodnews Secondary School; St. Augustine, Kujama; Comprehensive Development Institution, Tudun Mare and Adventist College, Kujama.
Mrs Ahmed explained that the decision to close the schools was reached after a meeting with the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools and some key stakeholders.