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Abducted school children may turn bandits

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By Usman Oladimeji

Nigerian government should prioritize the welfare of the children.

The Child Protection Network (CPN) has raised concerns about the increasing cases of child abduction in Nigeria, warning that it may result in the emergence of a new generation of criminals in the country. CPN’s National Coordinator, Kunle Sanni, conveyed this message during a media briefing in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. Mr. Sanni, together with fellow group members, emphasized the importance of prioritizing the well-being of children to the Nigerian government. He noted that with the increasing spate of kidnappings in the country, it would evidently give a rise to the already concerning number of out-of-school children.

He further highlighted the disturbing trend of child abductions in Nigeria, pointing to the recent kidnapping of more than 200 students from a secondary school in Kaduna on March 7, along with similar incidents in Sokoto and Ekiti States. These events have brought a sense of gloom over the country, indicating a significant lapse in protecting our children within educational institutions. Even with the generous funding provided, like the ₦145 billion designated for the Safe School Initiative, little advancement has been made in enhancing school safety and deterring atrocious crimes, he added.

High number of kidnappings creates fear among parents.

This setback, he said, endangers the learning and health of children and also has serious implications for society overall. The high number of child kidnappings creates a widespread sense of fear and vulnerability among both parents and students, resulting in a troubling increase in students leaving school. Sanni stated that by depriving numerous children of their basic right to education, we are also sustaining a cycle of ignorance and disempowerment that weakens the foundation of our society.

Sanni cautioned about the dangerous impact of criminal groups abducting children, leading to their indoctrination and possible radicalization. The implications of not addressing these practices could be disastrous, with the possibility of a future society dominated by extremism and violent ideologies. He expressed sorrow over the lasting impact on abducted children, noting that the trauma goes beyond just being kidnapped. Many of them are forced into sexual exploitation and trafficking, worsening their ordeal and continuing a cycle of violence and victimization.

Underlying issues causing these crimes should be tackled.

Furthermore, he praised the Nigerian government for its firm stand against ransom payments. However, he emphasized the importance of taking strong and dedicated steps to tackle the underlying issues causing these crimes. This involves holding perpetrators accountable and implementing strong measures to dismantle criminal networks engaging in such unlawful activities. Authorities were also urged to prioritize the prompt rescue and safe return of abducted children. To ensure safety in schools, it is essential to enhance security measures by installing state-of-the-art security systems and building physical barriers to deter any potential threats.

During this turbulent period, it is crucial for our leaders to show compassion, determination, and strong leadership. Additionally, the organization expresses unity with the impacted families, providing steadfast backing and aid during their period of struggle. They call upon President Bola Tinubu to speak directly to the nation regarding this issue and emphasize the importance of prioritizing the safety and welfare of our youth above everything else. Adedamola Lapile, the Ogun State Coordinator of CPN, urged the state government to implement preventive measures against insecurity and kidnapping instead of reacting only after a crisis occurs.

Related Article: Gunmen kidnap 287+ schoolchildren in Kaduna

Lapile called on the state government to make the security of our children a top priority by improving infrastructure. The success of the Safe School Project depends on careful planning that meets the specific requirements of each school. It is crucial to include all teachers and school administrators since they play a vital role in protecting our children. Creating a safe school environment is impossible without their involvement. Genuine success can only be achieved when they are fully incorporated into the security system.

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