Gunmen abduct hundreds of schoolboys in Niger, killing one student

Gunmen abduct hundreds of schoolboys in Niger, killing one student
Charles Nwoke, Minna, Nigeria
February 17, 2021 

Images throughout shared courtesy of local social media. Fair use, see Section 107 U.S. Copyright Act. 

Hundreds of schoolboys have been kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Kagara town, Niger State, Nigeria after an ambush in an all-boys boarding school. This is the latest in a rising wave of incessant abductions and attacks that have bedeviled the country in recent years.

Hoodlums wielding sophisticated arms dressed in military attires swooped the all-boys Government Science College (GSC) in Kagara Town, Niger State, on Tuesday night, killing at least one student and kidnapping hundreds of students. Some teachers were equally reportedly kidnapped and whisked into the nearby forest to an unknown destination.

This attack is believed to have been masterminded by bandits, who have been terrorizing north-west and north-central Nigeria in recent years. The criminal groups have launched marauding attacks from their forest den which caught across north-west Nigeria into the neighboring Niger Republic, terrorizing vulnerable rural dwellers in a very sorry security situation.

Killings, sexual violence and mass abductions for ransom even on schools have hitherto increased to a scaring height.

A government official who pleaded anonymity disclosed to AFP that “Bandits went into GSC Kagara last night and kidnapped hundreds of students and their teachers.” Army and air force patrols have been beefed up in the area, while a headcount was underway at the school to ascertain the number of students missing. The school has approximately 1,000 students before the unfortunate incident.

Niger State Government functionaries said they would soon give details of the occurrence, after gathering information about the kidnapping case. The state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello on Wednesday ordered that all boarding schools in areas at risk from bandits attack should be closed.

Femi Adesina, spokesman and Special Adviser for the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, who is increasingly vilified by Nigerians for the rising cases of insecurity which recently forced President Muhammadu Buhari to replace all the military chiefs, said, “Our prayers are with the families of the victims of this attack. Following these reports, the president has directed the armed forces and police, to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives.”

The Tuesday night raid in Niger State is the second of such occurrences within the shortest time in northern Nigeria. We had earlier in December 2020 reported to you about 300 schoolboys that were kidnapped in Katsina, north-west Nigeria, which sparked off public outcry concerning the rising cases of insecurity in the country.

However, the abducted boys were later released, while the government denied widespread reports that the gunmen, who were associated with Boko Haram, were paid a ransom to secure their freedom.

Earlier this month, bandits kidnapped more than 20 travelers from a bus in Zungeru Town, 30 miles from where the schoolboys were abducted on Tuesday. Local reports have it that a video released by the unknown gunmen showed distressed victims surrounded by assailants with a rocket launcher and rifles pleading for the government to pay a ransom of 500m nairas, which is about $1,000 000.

The high rate of insecurity in Nigeria is causing sleepless nights for every concerned citizen of the country. The lack of rural security, the high spate of unemployment, poverty, hunger, starvation, bad governance, corruption, and the protection offered by vast and rich mineral deposits in different parts of the country has made criminal activities thrive as many now perceive it as a means of livelihood, while many see it as a way of fighting back wicked people in government who have refused to make life easier and better for them despite the wealth of the nation, Nigeria.

Banditry involves a wide range of criminal activity coupled to various ethnic and non-ethnic factors, many of the recent large-scale armed attacks are suspected to have been carried out by Fulani militia parading themselves as herders.

Amnesty International had earlier reported that 1,126 persons were killed by bandits between January and June 2020.

The banditry pogrom has further increased complications in the fight against the 11years insurgency in the North-East part of the country as people are yet to know whether the bandits and the terrorists (Boko Haram and ISWAP) work together.

In December, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the abductions in Kankara. While the attack was carried out by bandits, the association between the two armed groups caused widespread alarm.