A nonprofit organisation, Save the Children, has condemned the recent abduction of students of the Federal College in Kebbi State saying that it was “horrified” at the reports.
The Director of the organisation in Nigeria, Mercy Gichuchi, in a statement on Friday, called for the immediate and unconditional release of the students.
“Save the Children is horrified by reports that 80 students have been abducted from their college in Kebbi State,” said Gichuchi.
She added that, “their safety and well-being remains our primary concern, and our hearts go out to them and their families. We call for their immediate and unconditional release and a safe return to their families.”
The 80 students were abducted from the Federal Government College (FGGC) in Yauri Local Government Area of Kebbi State on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
According to one of the eyewitnesses, the terrorists overpowered the security men guarding the school, confiscated their Toyota Hilux van, and went away with the students in it.
The Save the Children Country Director further stressed that “Places of learning should never be targets, and children should never be abducted.”
“This is a grave violation of children’s rights, and Save the Children is deeply concerned about the protection of children in the places that should be safest for them.”
“Just this week, children marked Day of the African Child by calling on leaders to ensure their education and allow them to return to school safely, free from attacks. Even before COVID-19, many children across Nigeria and the continent were shut out of school due to violence. This attack is a grave reminder of how real this threat is.”
“This is the third assault by armed gangs on a school or college in Nigeria in less than a month, reportedly by bandits seeking ransom payments. Recurring attacks on schools in northern Nigeria is a grave violation of child rights. When will children stop being used as pawns in games played by adults?”
Mass abduction has been a a rising disturbance in Nigeria since Dec. 2020, with over a 1000 victims kidnapped by terrorists in different states of Northern Nigeria.
The abduction in Kebbi State comes just a week after terrorists stormed Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, located in Zaria, Kaduna State, Northwestern Nigeria, and abducted eight students and staff of the school.
On Sunday, May 30, they kidnapped 156 students of Salihu Tanko Islamic school in Niger State, North-central Nigeria, barely three months after the infamous mass abduction of the Kagara schoolboys.
On Dec. 19, 2020, a terrorist group abducted more than 80 Islamic school students in Katsina State, Northwest Nigeria. The pupils were later rescued by security forces after a gun battle with the terrorists.
Schools are fast becoming the biggest targets for kidnapping for ransom in Nigeria in recent times. More than 700 students were kidnapped between Dec. 2020 and May 2021.
In October this year, Nigeria is expected to host the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools and it is one of the first African countries to have endorsed the Safe School Declaration, Gichuchi said.
“Armed conflict has been interrupting children’s education – a human right – in Nigeria for nearly a decade. Save the Children condemns the recurring killings of teachers, attacks on schools, and the kidnappings of school children. Save the Children is concerned that the already existing education inequalities in the country will be worsened if similar attacks will not be stopped immediately.”
“Now more than ever, we urge the Nigerian government to ensure that children have access to safe, quality and uninterrupted education at all levels. All children have the right to attend school free from violence and fear,” the NGO director added.