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14 states are vulnerable to bandit attacks

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By Mercy Kelani

287 schoolchildren and educators were kidnapped from two schools in a recent attack.

The Federal Government has warned that 14 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are vulnerable to attacks by bandits and insurgents as incidents of mass abductions of students continue to rise. Hajia Halima Iliya, the National Coordinator of Funding for Secure Schools in Nigeria, verified to that information on vulnerable schools had been gathered for assistance. Iliya chose not to specify the states, however, Hammed Abodunrin, the Commander of the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, mentioned that they encompassed Adamawa, Benue, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Katsina, FCT, Kebbi, Sokoto, Plateau, Zamfara along with three additional states.

Nevertheless, the captors are still holding onto at least 465 women, teachers and pupils who were abducted within the last week. Early in the morning on March 9, 2024, fifteen students from an Islamic school in Sokoto State were taken captive. This incident happened shortly after 287 schoolchildren and educators were kidnapped from two schools in Kaduna State within the same week. Nevertheless, it was reported on March 10, 2024, that 28 individuals managed to flee captivity out of a total of 259.

DSS plan to incorporate Safe Schools by training their personnel.

Just prior to the tragic event in Kaduna, a group of 200 displaced women were abducted by terrorists in Borno State. Iliya revealed that training sessions were held by the Federal Ministry of Education and the NSCDC for their personnel. Additionally, senior officers, including divisional police officers nationwide, were trained on Safe Schools by the Nigeria Police Force. Information has been gathered for intervention in struggling schools across 14 states, as well as the FCT. The Defence headquarters and DSS plan to incorporate Safe Schools by training their personnel.

Funding of ₦15 billion was allocated in 2023 for the initiative, and it is currently being utilized, according to her statement. Abodunrin, the Commander of the NSCDC National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, noted that the four-year project is progressing across all states in phases. The initiative commenced last year with the training and awareness programs for security personnel. He criticized the recent kidnappings of students, pointing out that the culprits targeted areas with limited communication access.

Schools must sign up on with their location.

Abodunrin expressed his concern about the attacks, highlighting the vulnerability of soft targets. He noted that attackers often target remote villages where they can act swiftly and without interference. Poor communication networks in areas like Ekiti and Kaduna make it difficult for community members to seek help promptly. Abodunrin emphasized the importance of increasing awareness in communities to prevent such incidents. More collaboration is required. Schools must sign up on with their location and contact number. Signing up is at no cost. Once registered, schools will be included in a database with their exact coordinates for convenient access.

In addition to that, the commander mentioned that students and teachers will receive training on personal safety and protection, as security demands individual focus. Named as potential targets for attacks are states including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Benue, Yobe, Katsina, FCT, Kebbi, Sokoto, Plateau, and Zamfara, according to Abodunrin. The vulnerable schools in certain states have been identified and their information has been shared with Safe School Financing. Additionally, some states have already provided Response centres to NSCDC for better coordination. The recent surge in kidnapping incidents nationwide has been portrayed by the Presidency as a coordinated effort by regional political entities to destabilize President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

Related Article: Gunmen Kidnap 287+ Schoolchildren in Kaduna

Mr. Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this statement during his appearance on TVC’s Politics show on March 10, 2024. Ngelale disclosed on the show ‘Assessing the Financial Impact of President Tinubu’s Policies’ that the US government had begun assisting the Federal Government in securing the release of kidnapped students in Kaduna. They acknowledge the situation and they are actively addressing it. Their approach involves collaboration with the neighbouring countries to ensure a united effort in their response. The United States Government has promised to help ensure the safe return of all the schoolchildren who were abducted in Kaduna recently. This commitment is significant and should be acknowledged.

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