NIGERIA’S federal ministry of education has begun moving pupils from boarding schools across the northeast of the country to secure locations in Abuja and elsewhere to avoid them being abducted by armed bandits and Boko Haram terrorists.
In what is now becoming a growing trend across Nigeria, armed criminal gangs now kidnap pupils from boarding schools and hold on to them for huge ransom fees. Over the last month, there have been abductions in Niger, Katsina and Zamfara states, with bandits carrying out daring raids right under the noses of the security services.
Started off by Boko Haram in 2014 when it abducted 276 pupils from Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok in Borno State, the habit has now become an epidemic. In a bid to forestall future kidnappings, pupils in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states are being moved away from remote locations.
Under what has been termed a Safe Schools Initiative, pupils are being moved away from provincial towns like Chibok in Borno State, Dapchi in Yobe State, Kankara in Katsina State, Kagara in Niger State and Jangebe in Zamfara State, from where they have been abducted lately. Ministry spokesman Ben Goong, said that in Borno State for instance, some students have been relocated to the Federal Government College, Kwali, Abuja.
Mr Goong added: “As we speak, there are quite a number of students from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States being relocated to other schools across the country, including the Federal Capital Territory. In fact, just recently, a national committee on the initiative was inaugurated and the committee is working with a non-governmental organisation.”
Mr Goong added that the Nigerian government would also be carrying out some enlightenment campaigns, especially among soldiers to discourage the use of school facilities for military-related activities. This, he said, was necessary so that such schools are not attacked.