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Years after, schools hit by abductions remain closed

Schools where mass abductions took place in some states in the North have remained shut many months after, raising concern of exacerbating the out-of-school challenge…

Schools where mass abductions took place in some states in the North have remained shut many months after, raising concern of exacerbating the out-of-school challenge facing the region, Daily Trust Saturday investigations reveal.

Schools in Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Kebbi, among others, had faced mass abductions of school children.

However, months after students of some of these schools have been released from captivity, the hope of continuing their education remained hanging as their schools remained shut long after the incidents.

Niger

In Niger State, three years after the attack on Government Science College Kagara, the school has remained under lock and key.

Residents said most of the students in the college, especially those from rural areas, had quit schooling due to lack of alternative science colleges in the area.

Daily Trust Saturday recalls that the school in Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of the state was attacked in February 2021, during which students and teachers were kidnapped and released after spending days in captivity.

While the Niger State Government announced the closure of the school after the attack, the state’s ministry of education was directed to transfer students to schools in their immediate communities to continue with their education.

Subsequently, the present administration in the state had in 2023 announced its plan to relocate some of the affected boarding schools, including Government Science College Kagara to Minna, the state capital, to allow students continue with their education.

But residents of the banditry affected communities and Kagara Old Students Association have called for reopening of the school with adequate security on ground instead of the planned relocation.

They pointed out that relocating the affected schools meant that the government had given up on the fight against the terrorists, saying that many of their children, especially the girl child, would find it difficult to travel long distances to Minna, the state capital, to access the new schools.

The National President of the Kagara Old Students Association, and Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs, Office of the Secretary to Niger State Government, Dr. Idris Abdullahi Legbo, said they have been with stakeholders and community leaders as well as parents with a view to talking to government to reopen the school to enable children return to school.

He said since the closure, teaching and learning activities in the school had collapsed, leading to further decay of the already dilapidated structures in the school.

Dr Legbo expressed concern over the negative impact the continuous closure of the school would have on the future of children who have dropped out, saying that the association had sought for support and interventions from stakeholders and development partners for the renovation of some structures, but the efforts had been hampered by the closure.

The District Head of Kagara, Alhaji Mohammed Saliu Tanko, maintained that the school was the only science college in the emirate, and it has produced notable personalities across the state.

The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr. Hadiza Asabe Mohammed, had earlier told our correspondent that the relocation of the school was for the safety of children and teachers, saying that Mega Schools would be built in the state capital to enable the affected children have access to education. 

But residents of Kagara had, however, moved against the relocation, saying that the decision would deny their children access to science-based education. They noted that many parents would not want their children to travel the distance from Kagara to Minna due to security challenges.

“It is a very simple thing because if you look at a lot of our schools that have been closed down, they are old fashioned schools, and His Excellency, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, is coming with a new concept of these mega schools. So, what we are talking about is bringing these mega schools to the state and moving most of these schools that have been vulnerable to attacks to the state capital.

“For safety, these mega schools would be housing a lot of students as boarders. For example, Government Science College Kagara, which has been forced by bandits to close, can have the main campus in Kagara but because of the situation we’ve found ourselves in, it is our intention that when we build these mega schools, the students would be housed in these mega schools in the city but the school would still be named Government Science College Kagara.

“We hope that in the near future, we will go back to those schools and they will still maintain their original names. It is not as if we are killing the schools from their original source. We are just trying to annex the schools to a safer environment and the priority of mega schools is for those that have been displaced by banditry,” she said.

Katsina

In Katsina, Government Science Secondary School Kankara was one of the schools attacked by armed bandits on December 11, 2020, and 344 male students were abducted. The students were later released on December 17, 2020 by the kidnappers after spending six days in captivity.

That incident, which attracted international attention and condemnation, forced the state government at that time to close down its 38 boarding schools, including the affected science school in order to prevent recurrence.

More than three years after the release of the students, the school is wearing a bushy look with grasses around its premises and few mobile police officers guarding its vacuous structures.

Residents of Kankara confirmed that the security situation around the area where the school is located is still tense as one could be abducted just one kilometre west of the town.

“As you know, the school is situated along Pawwa Road and I can assure you that just one kilometre from Kankara, along that way, you could be kidnapped,” Muhammad Anas, a resident of Kankara said, adding that the situation does not warrant the reopening of the school.

Daily Trust Saturday gathered that the security personnel stationed in the school were deployed to protect its facilities against vandalization and theft by criminals.

The state government did not announce any date for the reopening of the school as all the students of boarding schools in the state have been asked to move to any Government Day Secondary School close to them.

Our correspondent reports that the Kankara school was later relocated to Musawa town where they were given a complete section at the Musawa Government Secondary School. The space allotted to them in Musawa has the required classes and offices to operate, such that all the teachers and the students moved there.

In December 2023, Governor Dikko Umaru Radda said that many schools in Katsina State were dens of bandits, and those identified to be prone to attacks have been closed due to the security concerns.

He said this during the 7th and 8th combined convocation ceremony of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, stressing that there is no education without security.

Our correspondent reports that students of the university were also abducted at a time.

The governor said, “Many of our frontline local governments have had their schools closed due to banditry and in some cases, schools have become a den for bandits.

“This is why we have established the Katsina State Community Watch Corps to fight insecurity and create a foundation for our youth to learn and thrive,” he said.

In the meantime, reiterating his commitment to ensuring that children in the state get educated, he said: “My administration has made out-of-school children a main priority and we will continue to work with all partners to reduce the numbers. We will also work with religious schools to provide academic tools for students in a bid to prepare them for the world ahead.”

Kaduna

In Kaduna, most of the schools that suffered mass abductions about three years back still remain closed.

The affected schools include College of Forestry Afaka in Mando, where bandits abducted over 20 students in 2021. Greenfield University was also attacked by bandits in April 2021, and about 21 students abducted. The bandits killed three of the university students days after.

In 2021, bandits also attacked and abducted over 100 secondary school students of the Bethel Baptist School Kaduna.

The premises of all these schools, including College of Forestry Afaka, the Greenfield University and the Bethel School, have remained closed since the abductions that happened three years ago.

But the Forestry College, it was learnt, was relocated to another government facility within the state where the students continued with their academic activities.

However, the administrative section and other departments are still operating at the old school facility.

The Greenfield University has also relocated to Kudendan Area within the metropolis, but the old building located along Kaduna-Abuja highway is still closed. Daily Trust Saturday gathered that only the building stands with a few local guards seen guarding the facility.

Ben Maigari, whose relatives attend the school, told Daily Trust Saturday that following the incident, the management decided to relocate the classes to Kudendan area so they can continue with their academic calendar.

“The students have resumed lectures at the new school premises at Kudendan area, but I think most of the students now stay off-campus. There are no boarding facilities because the building is not as big as the main campus along Kaduna-Abuja highway,” he said.

Similarly, the Bethel Baptist School has relocated from Kaduna-Kachia highway to Unguwar Boro community, where the students have also continued with their learning.

A resident, who does not want to be named, said the school now uses another Baptist facility at Unguwar Boro as class rooms for the students.

“The school temporarily relocated to another facility belonging to the church at Angwar Boro, pending when the security situation improves at the old school Area along Kachia-Kaduna highway,” he said.

The recent school abductions that drew international attention was the Kuriga school abduction where 137 students were abducted by bandits on March 7, 2024.”

Nasiru Yau Kuriga, a resident whose siblings were among the students kidnapped, said since the over 137 students returned home after 16 days in captivity, the school has not reopened.

“They returned during the fasting period when schools were on break. So, they are yet to resume classes because schools are still on break.

“The only challenge is that the government promised to fence the school. So, we are hoping it will be fenced before school resumes,” he said.

It would be recalled that the Kaduna State governor, Senator Uba Sani, said over 1500 schools in eight local government areas of the state, do not have fences.

The governor stated this while addressing stakeholders from the 23 local government areas of the state.

The governor, however, disclosed that as part of efforts to complement the government’s commitment to implementing the Safe Schools Initiative, prominent Kaduna-based business moguls, Alhaji Adamu Atta of Fifth Chucker and Alhaji Bukar Shettima of Barbados, are to build fences for 100 schools.

Secondary School. The space allotted to them in Musawa has the required classes and offices to operate, such that all the teachers and the students moved there.

In December 2023, Governor Dikko Umaru Radda said that many schools in Katsina State were dens of bandits, and those identified to be prone to attacks have been closed due to the security concerns.

He said this during the 7th and 8th combined convocation ceremony of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, stressing that there is no education without security.

Our correspondent reports that students of the university were also abducted at a time.

The governor said, “Many of our frontline local governments have had their schools closed due to banditry and in some cases, schools have become a den for bandits.

“This is why we have established the Katsina State Community Watch Corps to fight insecurity and create a foundation for our youth to learn and thrive,” he said.

In the meantime, reiterating his commitment to ensuring that children in the state get educated, he said: “My administration has made out-of-school children a main priority and we will continue to work with all partners to reduce the numbers. We will also work with religious schools to provide academic tools for students in a bid to prepare them for the world ahead.”

By Abubakar Akote (Minna), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina) & Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna)

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