AT least 200 students of an Islamic school located at Tegina in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State have been abducted, Channels TV reports.
One person was said to have been shot dead while another was critically injured after gunmen carried out the kidnap operation at about 16:30 local time on Sunday.
A local told Channels that “The Islamiyya school is not the usual Sangaya boarding Islamic citadel, but a conventional one, where parents send their children on a daily basis for the purpose of acquiring Islamic education.”
However, the Secretary to the Niger State Government, Ahmed Matane, said the number of the abducted students had yet to be ascertained.
Matane stated, “Yes, there was an attack at the Islamiyya school, but we do not yet have the exact number of students that were abducted. We are in touch with parents in the area to know those whose children were abducted.”
The SSG, who is the Chairman of the State Security Committee, further revealed that while the attack in Tegina was going on, there were simultaneous attacks elsewhere in Lavun LGA and some fringes of Mashegu LGA.
Who is responsible for these attacks?
Locals refer to them as bandits – criminal gangs that have turned to hostage-taking and other crimes because they have little choice to survive.
These “bandits” are mostly ethnic Fulanis, traditionally nomadic herders who have seen public grazing lands shrink due to climate change and their cattle and sheep stolen by soldiers and rustlers. Successive governments have neglected and even harassed them – failing to protect their way of life.
About 730 children and students have been kidnapped Since December 2020, a UNICEF tally showed. At least six states shut down schools temporarily.
Amnesty International said in a report in April that “over 600 schools” have been shut in Nigeria’s northern region as kidnapping spirals.
These kidnappers are becoming more emboldened. When they abducted students from Greenfield University last month, parents say they paid N180 million ($400,000) to secure the release of their children.
Nigeria is blessed with crude oil and other natural resources, but corruption and inefficient governance has pushed almost 70% of the country’s population into poverty.