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Gunmen kidnap 287+ schoolchildren in Kaduna

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By Abraham Adekunle

Recurrent abductions rock Kaduna communities by marauding gangs.

In a turn of events, Northwest Nigeria finds itself plunged into a deep crisis following a brazen mass abduction that has left communities reeling. Armed gunmen, striking in the dead of night, perpetrated a shocking assault on the LEA Primary and Secondary School in Kuriga village, Kaduna State, snatching over 287 school children, with some as young as eight years old, from their beds. The heart-wrenching ordeal has gripped the nation and underscored the grave security challenges facing the region.

According to reports from Kaduna State’s police spokesman, Mansur Hassan, while a fraction of the students managed to escape the clutches of their captors, a staggering 287 children remain in captivity, their fate hanging in the balance. The abduction, orchestrated by assailants on motorcycles, has sent shockwaves through the community, leaving parents anguished and authorities scrambling to mount a swift and effective response. The breakdown of the kidnapped victims reveals the extent of the tragedy, with 100 children abducted from the primary school and 187 from the secondary school. Initial confusion surrounding the number of students abducted underscores the chaotic nature of the situation, with conflicting reports emerging in the aftermath of the brazen attack.

Uba vows to take action after abduction tragedy in the state.

Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State has moved swiftly to reassure the public in the wake of the abduction, vowing to spare no effort in securing the safe return of the abducted pupils and students. Tragically, the incident claimed the life of a courageous community member who confronted the abductors during the assault. Governor Sani has announced a series of measures aimed at bolstering security in the area, including the establishment of a Security Committee and a military base to stem the tide of violence. However, the abduction in Kaduna State is not an isolated incident but rather a chilling reminder of the pervasive threat of armed banditry that has gripped the region in recent years.

Kaduna, situated on the border with the Nigerian capital Abuja, has become a flashpoint for kidnappings for ransom, with armed groups wreaking havoc on communities and instilling a climate of fear and insecurity. The abduction has drawn condemnation from across the country and the international community, with calls for urgent action to address the root causes of insecurity and protect vulnerable populations. Amnesty Internationals Nigeria office has urged authorities to take immediate steps to safeguard schools and ensure the safety and well-being of children, who are the most vulnerable to the horrors of violence and exploitation.

Surge in kidnappings affect communities nationwide.

As Nigeria grapples with the fallout from this tragic incident, there is a pressing need for concerted efforts to address the underlying drivers of insecurity and implement comprehensive security measures to protect communities and restore peace and stability to the region. The abductions serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for national unity and collective action to confront the scourge of violence and insecurity that threatens society. Kidnapping has become a pervasive and deeply troubling phenomenon in the northern part of Nigeria, particularly in states like Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, and Niger. Armed banditry, fuelled by poverty, unemployment, and lawlessness, has flourished in these regions, leading to a surge in abductions for ransom and posing significant challenges to security and stability.

Recently, criminal gangs, known locally as “bandits” or “rustlers,” have capitalized on the region’s vast and rugged terrain to carry out brazen attacks on communities, schools, and highways. These groups, often armed with sophisticated weapons, including assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, target vulnerable populations, including school children, travellers, and farmers, with impunity. The motives behind kidnappings vary, with ransom payments serving as a primary incentive for criminal groups. Victims are often subjected to brutal treatment, including physical and psychological abuse, as captors seek to extract large sums of money from their families or government authorities. In some cases, victims are held in captivity for extended periods, enduring unimaginable hardships until ransom demands are met or rescue operations are launched.

Related Article: Nigeria ban crowdfunding ransom to kidnappers

The prevalence of kidnapping in Northern Nigeria has had far-reaching consequences, undermining social cohesion, disrupting economic activities, and eroding public trust in government institutions. The inability of security forces to stem the tide of abductions has fuelled frustration and anger among affected communities, leading to calls for urgent action to address the root causes of insecurity and hold perpetrators accountable. Efforts to combat kidnapping in the region have been hampered by a range of challenges, including limited resources, corruption, and collusion between criminal elements and state actors. While government authorities have launched various initiatives to improve security and enhance law enforcement capabilities, including the deployment of military personnel and the establishment of joint task forces, the underlying drivers of insecurity persist, posing formidable obstacles to sustainable solutions.

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