Education under threat as bandits, kidnappers shut down Kaduna schools
When Kidnappers first abducted a prominent traditional ruler in Kaduna State, the Agwom Adara, Maiwada Raphael Galadima, in 2018, and demanded N18 million Naira ransom, many in the State thought it would be the last incident in Kaduna State.
But after his Kidnap and gruesome murder by his abductors, the business of Kidnapping blossomed even as security operatives continue to remain helpless amid the declaration of war by bandits against the Kaduna people.
In most cases, at midnight when their victims were fast asleep, Kidnappers will come knocking at the doors. Sometimes, the sound of gunshots bring to an end, the joyful sleep of their victims.
Although Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has vowed never to pay ransom to Kidnappers, security threats bedeviling the state occasioned by kidnapping and the demand for large sums as ransom continue unabated.
Recall that the Nigerian Army has deployed 300 combatant female soldiers to Kaduna to combat insecurity. But since the deployment of the female soldiers and other security agents to strategic places in Kaduna and its environs, kidnappers, and bandits have not only mapped out new strategies to abduct innocent victims but have targetted different schools across the state, putting students, teachers, and parents under serious pressure.
Since January 2021, hundreds of Kaduna residents have been kidnapped or killed, while millions of Naira have been paid as ransoms, even as bandits have discovered schools as a more lucrative avenue to demand huge ransoms.
On March 12, bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Mando Kaduna and kidnapped 39 students. They demanded N500 million Naira ransom from their victims’ parents before their children could be released.
Ten of the students were released in batches of five after their parents paid undisclosed amounts of money. The remaining abducted students were, however, released after spending 57 days in captivity. Their release was said to be facilitated by prominent Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi Dialogue Committee with the collaboration of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Chairman of the Forum of Parents of the Abducted Students, Abdullahi Usman testified to the release of the children ” Yes, they have released them. It’s a big relief to us as parents. ”
Though it was alleged that the parents paid as much as N17 million Naira as ransom before their children were released, the news was, however, debunked by the parents.
As the dust was about to settle at midnight of April 20, 2021, bandits numbering 30 stormed Greenfield University located along Kaduna-Abuja road and kidnapped 23 students after killing the security guard. They later demanded from parents of their victims the sum of N40 million Naira and 20 new Honda motorcycles before their victims could be released.
Following the huge amount demanded as ransom, protests were held in Kaduna and Abuja by the parents of the students. As the parents were not serious over their demands, they killed four of the students on two different occasions and dropped their dead bodies where passersby could easily see them.
The remaining 17 students were held hostage in the Kidnappers’ den for 40 days before they were released. Although negotiations for the release of the abducted University students were fraught with controversies as parents churned out conflicting details of the ordeals they suffered in the negotiations process.
While the Greenfield abduction still remained fresh, bandits struck again. This time, at Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Zaria where they killed a student and abducted students and lecturers on June 15, 2021.
Although their abductors have not made any public demand yet, it’s believed their victims are still in captivity.
When many thought the incessant attacks on schools by bandits had reduced, on June 5, 2021, stormed Bethel Baptist Schoo,l Maramara in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State and left with 140 students after an attempt to kidnap students of Faith Academy was resisted by security personnel.
Following the security threat and kidnapping of school children in the state, Kaduna State Schools Quality Assurance Authority immediately ordered the closure of 13 schools in areas vulnerable to bandits attacks.
A letter sent to the proprietors of the affected schools from the authority by the Director-General, Umma K. Ahmed, said, “Sequel to the information reaching the authority on the security threat at the Bethel Baptist High school, Damishi, a meeting with the National Association of Proprietors of Private schools (NAPPS) and some key stakeholders was held on Monday, 5th July 2021 with the resolution that the following schools should close down with effect from Monday, 5th July 2021.”
In the letter entitled, “Notice Of Closure Of Some Identified Vulnerable Schools,” the authority warned of sanctions against schools that fail to comply.
The affected schools listed in the letter included Faith Academy, along Kachia Road, adjacent Jakaranda, Deeper Life Academy, Maraban Rido, Ecwa Secondary school, Ungwar Maje and Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi.
Others are St. Peters Minor Seminary, Katari, Prelude Secondary School, Kujama, Ibiso Secondary school, Tashar Iche, Tulip International (Boys) School and Tulip International (Girls) School.
Also on the list are Goodnews Secondary School, St. Augustine, Kujama, Comprehensive Development Institution (CDI), Tudun Mare and Adventist College, Kujama.
“You are hereby advised to adhere to the contents of this letter as appropriate sanctions shall be meted out to schools that are found wanting for non-compliance, please,” the letter warned.
Although schools not affected by the current notice are operating their normal schedules, most parents in boarding schools have vowed to withdraw their wards.
However, the Kaduna State Police Command has assured other schools not affected by this notice of the safety of pupils and students.
According to the Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mohammed Jalige,
most of the schools which are located within Kaduna metropolis are not vulnerable to Kidnappers and that serious security measures were being taken to ensure that Kidnappers do not get to any of the schools.
He said the command would mobilize security to checkmate the activities of criminals in all the schools that are still operating.
“We are going to post our men with serious security surveillance to those schools so that history will not repeat itself, ” ASP Jalige said.
But a police officer who does not want his name in print said that with the weapons in the hands of kidnappers and bandits, it would be impossible for the force to properly curtail their activities, saying that it is only when the police and security agencies are properly equipped to be able to withstand the sophisticated weapons being handled by the bandits that the situation would be brought under control.
“That is why in any operation, the police has to wait before they go to any scene of criminal activity in any part of the country because of their inferior weapons. They (police) cannot confront criminals who carry sophisticated weapons,” he explained.
At Bethel Baptist High school, Damishi, Kaduna, one Mrs Caroline Emmanuel lamented that her only surviving child was among the abducted students, saying, “In fact, the bandits are now attacking schools and abducting our children. Enough is enough. A state of emergency should be declared in Kaduna State. If governor Nasir El-Rufai cannot do anything to ensure the security of lives and property he swore to protect, the federal government should do something now. The Governor has failed, he is not doing anything. Each time there is an abduction, they only come blowing their sirens. They should go to the bushes if they are serious.”
Recall that the state Commissioner, Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan was booed and forced back on Monday at Bethel Baptist High school when he arrived at the school to see what the bandits did.
According to one Hassan Adamu, Kaduna State is fast becoming a place where the ideology of Boko Haram will be implemented, saying that the moment the bandits succeed in shutting down schools in the state, their (Boko Haram) plan would have succeeded.
With the increasing attacks on institutions of learning in Kaduna State, it is uncertain what may befall the state educationally. Many are of the view that stringent measures have to be taken by the government of the day in order to protect schools in the state.