The US has expressed disgust by this pattern of mass abductions of school kids in Nigeria just as six northern states are forced to shut down more than 620 secondary schools as bandits attacks fester.
Mr Michael C. Gonzales, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs of the US, who spoke at a digital press briefing on Friday, March 12, 2021, said: “ I can think of nothing more abhorrent.’’
Gonzales, one of the speakers who addressed recent developments in U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa, said, “ our condolences go out to the individuals affected and their families’’.
The situation in Nigeria, he said, certainly appeared by all indications to be a dynamic stemming from criminal gangs motivated by monetary and economic factors.
“There’s no indication that terrorists, whether Boko Haram or ISIS-West Africa, are involved in these. Although I would note that Boko Haram has opportunistically claimed credit for several of these kidnappings in the northwest in the past,’’ he said.
He assured the world that the United States was ready to provide appropriate support to the Nigerian government if requested to do so.
“Longer term, we seek to help develop the capabilities of the Nigerian security services in order for them to adequately respond to the internal threats that the country faces.
“Again, I think the challenges are many in Nigeria. And we are encouraged by President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent replacement of all of the security-sector chiefs and looking forward to partnering with him and continuing to build the capacity of the Nigerian military in order to be able to better protect and defend their people.’’
Meanwhile, the festering abduction of students has forced six Nigeria’s northern states to close 1,029 secondary schools, just as the military foiled another bandits’ attempt to abduct 307 students in the early hours of Sunday, March 14, 2021.
The closure of the schools by Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Yobe out of the 19 states also came after the abduction of 39 students of the Federal School of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State.
In the last 48 hours, solider had a gun battle with bandits and rescued 307 pupils of Government Secondary Science School (GSSS), Ikara, in Kaduna and repelled a fresh attack on the senior staff quarters of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Kaduna, where 11 people were abducted two weeks ago.
The Sokoto Commissioner for Security and Career Affairs, retired Col. Garba Moyi, said on March 14, 2021 that the closure of schools in the state was to avoid the abduction of pupils just as it had happened in Katsina, Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara States.
The government of Sokoto state has merged all schools in suburbs with the ones in in towns for ease of policing.
Zamfara State government closed the boarding schools located in the border towns after the Jangebe town incident in which 279 pupils of Government Girls Secondary School were abducted in February.
In Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, boarding schools have been shut after the abduction of 344 pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in January.
In addition to the closure of some secondary schools, the Kano State Government has shut four tertiary educational institutions.
The schools are Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso College of Advance and Remedial Studies, Tudun Wada; School of Environmental Studies, Gwarzo; School of Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship Development (SORTED), Rano; and Audu Bako College of Agriculture Development (ABCOAD), Dambatta.
Niger state has closed all its 496 secondary schools following the abduction of 42 persons from the Government Science College, Kagara, in February.
The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education in Yobe state, Dr. Muhammed Idris, reported that, “students in the first and second years of junior secondary schools should vacate their schools immediately’’.
“The closure of the boarding schools is informed by the security concern and the urgent need for government to be proactive in safeguarding the lives of the children,” he said.
Mr. Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, reported on March 14, 2021, confirmed that the bandits invaded
Government Secondary Science School (GSSS), Ikara, in Kaduna between the late hours of Saturday and early on Sunday, in an attempt to kidnap the pupils.
“The security forces comprising the troops of the Nigerian Army, the police and some security volunteers, moved swiftly to the school and engaged the bandits, forcing them to flee when some of the students raised an alert.
“The military and police are still on the trail of the armed bandits.”
According to data released by the police, no fewer than 1,800 secondary school children have been abducted in different states of the north in this year.