Over 300 students abducted in Katsina State

The North-East has been faced with the height of insecurity issues in Nigeria, especially with the presence of Boko Haram in the country. They have been notorious over the last decade for school kidnappings, including the Chibok girls in 2014. Hundreds of people in Nigeria’s north-west region have been killed in attacks by what authorities have called criminal gangs, but until now it has been unclear whether they had links with Boko Haram.

On the 11th of December, 2020 it was recorded that over 300 hundred secondary school boys abducted from the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara. In an audio message about the abduction, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram said “what happened in Katsina was our responsibility” and that his group opposed Western education. The same reasons why the group abducted the Chibok girls in 2014, and now in 2020, we are facing the same issue with the same set of people.

Residents living near Government Science Secondary School in Kankara told the BBC they heard gunfire at about 23:00 (22:00 GMT) last week on Friday, and that the attack lasted for more than an hour. Security personnel at the school managed to repel some of the attackers before police reinforcements arrived, officials said. Police said that during an exchange of fire, some of the gunmen were forced to retreat. Students were able to scale the fence of the school and run to safety, they said.

Coincidentally, the president was actually in Katsina, his home town when this happened and rather than visit the school or the families of the children that were abducted, he visited his cows instead. Even if the president had plans to visit his farm during his stay in the state, upon hearing what happened, he should have stayed back and not attend because the timing is wrong.

Activists have criticized President Muhammadu Buhari, whose home state is Katsina, of mishandling the security operation against the militants. Recent occurrence in the state has proved that the president does not value the lives of its citizen.

A 17-year-old boy who managed to escape the abductors explained how he crawled for several miles through the forest to freedom. These children, their parents do not deserve all these pain and struggle just because they are citizens of Nigeria. They deserve that comfortable and great country where parents will; be at peace sending their children to school and hoping they will come back home safely in one piece.

Garba Shehu, once again came out to say that only 10 students were abducted. Now this is really surprising because there is no way they would have abducted 10 pupils for one hour, they could have done that in less than 30 minutes. How was he sure they were 10, the school definitely keeps attendance of their pupils. It was recorded that over 800 pupils were in attendance that day and if the school authority has said over 300 were abducted, we should believe them.

The presidency said that “The children believe that 10 of their schoolmates were taken by the bandits, but this still needed to be verified. So now, it is the report of the students he wants to believe against the report of the school. He also tweeted on Tuesday saying that Katsina Governor Aminu Bello Masari had met and briefed President Buhari about the operation to free the kidnapped students.

Many parents said they had withdrawn their children from the school, Governor Massari also ordered the immediate closure of all boarding schools in the state.

Shekau’s statement in the audio he sent sparked mixed reactions in Nigeria, with the authorities who blamed “bandits” for the attack now saying they were uncertain. Months before last week’s attack Boko Haram claimed that it had a presence in the north-west region, so if it is proved that they are indeed behind the school raid, it’s a worrying development. Then it is evident that they are the one in charge of the Borno rice farmers that were killed on their farm.

Some however say that Shekau may just be claiming responsibility as a propaganda strategy – to attract more attention to his group – which is competing for dominance and relevance with a splinter faction known as Islamic State West Africa Province. I do not agree as a video was later released of the abducted children so that already explains that they are the one behind the killings and abduction. It is yet another incident that has brought great anxiety to parents in the north-west region about the safety of their children in schools.

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has directed the closure of all public and private schools in the state with immediate effect. This was contained in a statement signed by the state Commissioner for Education, Sanusi Kiru, a copy of which was made available to newsmen in Kano on Wednesday morning. Even though no reason was given for the closure of the schools, but the closure may not be unconnected to a spike in cases of COVID-19 in some parts of the country, which led to the closure of schools in some states including Kaduna and Jigawa. The move may also not be unconnected to the recent abduction of over 300 school boys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.

The Nigeria Union of Teachers has also threatened to embark on a nationwide strike following a continued threat to the lives of its members and students. That is a great move from NUT because the safety of the students are quite important, we do not know which state or school might be next. It is better for them to be safe at home rather that risking them all out. The organization, therefore, called on government at all levels to ensure adequate security and 24-hour surveillance around schools in order not to escalate the disruption of the academic calendar “which is in a fragile state as a result of COVID – 19 pandemic.” The NUT said it was highly disturbed by the re-emerging incidence of school invasion and abduction of teachers and students across the country’s educational institutions.

It is great news that the boys have been found but we are unaware of Boko Haram next move hence it is very vital and important that the government provide a long lasting solution to insecurity in the country.

December 21, 2020

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