The 300 schoolgirls who were abducted in a recent attack by bandits in Zamfara state in the early hours of Friday, 26th of January, 2021 have been released today March 2, 2021.
The schoolgirls were kidnapped from their hostels by gunmen who invaded the Government Girls Secondary School located in the town of Jangebe, leaving a police officer killed, according to a report published by CNN.
This was a new leaf in the spate of kidnapping attacks by bandits and terrorists across the country. In December 2020, 300 schoolboys were kidnapped from their dormitory and made to trek for two days without food.
The international watchdog, Amnesty International wrote: “This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and it undermines the right to education for thousands of children in Northern Nigeria.”
The Nigerian authorities must act immediately to prevent attacks on schools, to protect children’s lives and their rights to education. No child should have to choose between their life and education.
The country is rife with cases of kidnapping and abduction which predominantly occur in the Northern part of the country. “This is due to the culture, the system of governance and approach of the region’s elite,” Sanni Alausa-Issa a current affairs analyst with Diamond FM Ilorin, told me.
The government and ruling elites have been credited with directly and indirectly fueling crime and terrorism through its failure to attend to the problems of the masses.
“One of the limitations is the absence of formal education. We have a lot of illiterates there and they are used to a system that has impoverished them and kept them in bondage for a long time. I think this is a manifestation of leaving these people unattended for a long period of time.”
Sanni who could not make sense of the decision to kidnap public school students continued: “They have now become bandits who abduct school children. It has become a medium of raising money and a channel of getting back to the government which is responsible for their misery,”
“Abducting is a criminal offence and should come with an attendant punishment but unfortunately that doesn’t happen. The major stakeholders only pamper and appeal to them. The problem will continue to abound if they do not make decisive decisions about it.”
“This continued venture in kidnapping will have severe impact on the country, especially for a region with the highest number of out-of-school children. Some of the victims may be unable to continue their education for fear of their safety,” Sanni said.
Alhassan Ndaman Aishah, 20, a young woman who has once been a victim of a kidnapping in Bauchi state can relate to the experience of the schoolgirls. “It is painful trying to imagine what these females are going through at the moment. Because from what is happening in the county right now, it could be anybody.”
“So, right now, everyone is at the risk of getting kidnapped. Even inside your own school where you might think you’re safe. They’d be fearful because they don’t know what might happen to them next. And hopeless because they don’t even trust their government.”
Muhammad Akinyemi, a journalist, believes that this problem will not go away anytime soon, looking at how many people now see the act of kidnapping as a lucrative business.
“In economics, there is a principle called the cobra effect. It is basically when you have unintended consequences from rewarding an earlier action and it leads to a bigger problem. When these kidnapping issues started, governments across different parts of the country started paying ransom instead of looking into the factors causing the problem, because they wanted to get the abducted out as soon as possible.”
“I don’t think the problem is going away anytime soon because the business seems lucrative and more people are bound to participate. It is now left to governments across Nigeria to take actions against this continued menace,” Muhammad said.