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No fence, no security checks — varsity students in north-central risk abduction 

No fence, no security checks — varsity students in north-central risk abduction 
August 23
10:48 2021

With the rising cases of abductions in secondary and tertiary institutions across the country, the federal government and the authorities in the states are doing little or nothing to protect students from further attacks by marauding gunmen. Students have been left on their own to protect themselves while trying to get education. JOHNSON AGADA and DYEPKAZAH SHIBAYAN visited a number of schools in the north-central zone of the country and found out that some students and lecturers live in fear — without any effort on the part of the authorities to protect them.

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It was horrifying when over 200 girls were abducted from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno, in 2014 by Boko Haram insurgents. This sparked so much outrage around the world and many called for their release using #BringBackOurGirls on social media and hoped that the incident will mark the end of such an occurrence.

Four years later in 2018, 113 students were taken from Dapchi, Yobe state, by gunmen to the horror of many again.

The year 2020 marked the beginning of constant abductions of students in the country as seen in the cases of Mahuta and Kankara – just weeks apart — in Katsina state. From that point, the abduction of students seemingly became a norm.

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To date, many students are still in captivity despite millions of naira being spent as ransom to get them out of the claws of bandits.

Although some students were freed after ransom was paid, others have not been so lucky. Some of them have been reportedly killed as is in the case of Greenfield University students in Kaduna state — leaving many to wonder what the real intentions of these bandits are.

Law enforcement agencies say they are doing their best to keep the situation under check but their efforts do not seem to stop the incidents.

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With hundreds of students abducted and millions of naira paid as ransom, there appears to be nothing sufficient on the ground to show the government’s determination to keep students safe.

Many students have been forced to stay at home over security concerns.

BOKO HARAM IN NIGER BUT SCHOOLS NOT PROTECTED

In April 2021, Abubakar Bello, governor of Niger, said Boko Haram hoisted its flag in Kaure, Shiroro LGA of the state.

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Bello said over 3,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) from Shiroro and Munya LGAs were taking refuge in Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Primary School, Minna, as a result of the activities of the insurgents.

Before the incident, the state was the epicentre of kidnapping in the north-central after bandits abducted 27 students from Kagara and a number of of travellers in a another incident.

When TheCable visited the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger state, weeks after the incursion of insurgents into the state, business was as usual.

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FUT Minna Bosso Campus main entrance

People, students and business owners walked into both campuses of the university without any security checks. The main campus which is home to a majority of the students of the institution is not fenced.

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A bit of a perimeter fence could be seen in front of the institution but not at the back.

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The only fenced section of the Gidan Kwano Campus, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger state

Hostels, both male and female, are located at the back of the school and on the margins of a not-so-dense vegetation where about 13 hamlets — not so far from each other — could be seen.

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Lone Ultra Modern Male and Female Hostel at Gidan Kwano Campus, FUT Minna, Niger state

A 400-level student who identified himself as Samuel said he does not live on the campus because he does not feel safe there.

“I am more comfortable off campus than inside the school. The school opens up into the forest. Students were tensed following the news of Boko Haram in Shiroro LGA,” Samuel said.

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”Behind the hostel environment at Gidan Kwano Campus, Federal University of Technology, Minna. Behind the campus are settlements and students began seeing flashlights so there has been tension.

“It has been business as usual. There has not been an increase in security.”

No officer was seen at a police post located not too far from the main gate of the institution.

Broken fence behind boys hostel at Bosso Campus, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger state

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Low perimeter fence behind boys hostel Bosso Campus at Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger state

Broken fence and footpath to the school premises at Bosso Campus, Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger state

‘CAMPUS IS A HUNTING FIELD’

Corroborating Samuel’s position, Patricia Kure, a 300-level student of FUT, said they have been left to protect themselves from harm.

Kure said bushes close to the hostels on the main campus have been used by locals around the school to hunt game, which makes many of them afraid because of gunshots.

Behind the hostel environment at Gidan Kwano Campus, Federal University of Technology Minna

“We are fending for ourselves. If those guys [insurgents] are going to come into this school the [students] can’t escape. The security is very poor. There is no security.

“The rumored gunshots we usually hear is reportedly for game — there are wild animals here. That is around the Gidan Kwano hostel area.”

At the Bosso campus of FUT Minna, the security personnel were not armed and there were no checks for those entering the school either on foot or in a vehicle.

STAFF QUARTERS DESERTED AFTER ATTACK IN PLATEAU

Just like FUT, Minna, the Federal College of Land Resource, Kuru, Plateau state, is not completely fenced.

Deserted staff quarters at the Federal College of Land Resource Kuru, Jos, Plateau state

Although when TheCable visited the institution, the school was not in session but TheCable observed that the staff quarters was deserted with just a few soldiers at the back of the school.

Deserted block of flat the staff quarter, Federal College of Land Resource, Kuru, Jos, Plateau state

It was learnt that many members of staff abandoned their residences after a devastating attack on the institution in September 2020.

“Bandits killed a security man and his colleague was fatally injured on 2nd of September, 2020. Since then the staff quarters has been empty,” a lecturer who did not want to be named said.

The building where the security guards were attacked

One of the soldiers stationed at the back of the school said they have been owed allowances despite their effort in protecting the institution.

‘WE ARE ROBBED FREQUENTLY’

At the Federal University of Technology, Makurdi, Benue state, TheCable observed that there were no security precautions put in place to check criminals from going into the school despite high cases of robbery in the area.

Broken fence at Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi

There is also no presence of police officers despite a recent kidnapping incident at the institution.

Suewese Ejembi, a student of the institution, said she does not feel safe at the school.

Block of class room at the engineering complex, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, where three students were kidnapped

“There are robbery incidents, like phone snatching at night, and burglary cases. There is the total absence of security personnel off campus environment and there is no police post,” Ejeh said.

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Zamfara Boys Hostel Located in a bush at the Federal University of Agriculture premises

“The security personnel guarding the school are not armed. I don’t feel safe in the school environment at all, we are just on our own.

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Zamfara Boys Hostel Located in a bush at the Federal University of Agriculture premises (2)

“We only get to see soldiers at night going to villages at the back of the school when there are attacks in those villages.”

In April 2021, three students of the institution were abducted by gunmen but they were released after three days in captivity. The police claimed that no ransom was paid.

POLICE POST NOT FUNCTIONAL

Just like the University of Agriculture in Makurdi, the Federal Polytechnic, Nasarawa in Nasarawa state, does not have a functional police post.

A student who identified himself as James said many students do not feel safe on campus.

“There is only one police station at St Kizito and that is about one kilometre away. The police station near the market isn’t operational. We have cases of robbery,” James said.

“We do not feel safe. We get robbed all the time. We have a security man who is old and can’t do anything.”

TheCable observed that the polytechnic is not completely walled and parts of the school open to a dense vegetation at the back — where some herders graze their livestock.

At the University of Abuja main campus, TheCable observed that the school is not walled but plans are underway to put up a perimeter fence.

Franka Bulus, a final year student, said there have been efforts by the institution’s management to secure the school, adding that many students feel safe on campus.

“The permanent site is not fenced all round because the school is very big but the vice-chancellor has started fencing,” Bulus said.

“Yes a new law has been implemented for all students to always wear their ID cards around their necks else they will be expelled and people are always vigilant.”

TheCable observed that students walked into campus without security checks.

When TheCable visited the University of Jos, Plateau, students had been asked to stay at home over security concerns in the state.

Just like the University in Abuja, the main campus opens up to a thick bush at the back. It was observed that there were no security checks on both campuses of the institution.

STUDENTS RISK ABDUCTION IN NORTH-CENTRAL

Although there are no official figures of students in the country, over 80,000 students in the north-central zone risk abduction, TheCable learnt from some sources.

Sources in the University of Jos, the University of Agriculture, Makurdi, and FUT, Minna, put the figures of students — undergraduate and postgraduate — in these institutions at 33,000, 13,000 and 20,000 respectively.

Ben Goong, media director at the federal ministry of education, neither answered calls nor replied to a text message sent to him on what the federal government is doing to secure tertiary institutions across the country.


This is a special investigative project by Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation (CNJF) in partnership with TheCable, supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Published materials are not views of the MacArthur Foundation.

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