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TIMELINE: 11 high-profile abductions of schoolchildren after Chibok tragedy

TIMELINE: 11 high-profile abductions of schoolchildren after Chibok tragedy
April 14
11:30 2024

The 2014 mass abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok, a community in Borno state, by Boko Haram militants was a defining moment in Nigeria’s history. It wasn’t just the sheer number of victims that reverberated nationwide, but the brazen disregard for the law and the calculated cruelty of targeting young girls seeking education.

In the dead of the night on April 14, 2014, armed militants stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, with gunshots in the air and in no time herded over 200 girls into trucks. Their fate and destination were unknown, but it was certain to be filled with terror.

The country watched in horror as news of the abduction spread, and the desperate pleas of parents for their daughters’ return quickly captured attention worldwide. 

While many of the girls, now women, have managed to either escape or rescued through military operations and ransom payment, many remain missing; a reminder of the vulnerability of schoolchildren in the face of overwhelming insecurity.

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The brazen Chibok girls abduction took the world by storm

This event wasn’t an isolated incident. Abductions, whether driven by extremist ideologies, political vendetta, or criminal opportunism, have become a daily reality in many parts of Nigeria. 

Due to the incessant kidnappings and banditry, families have been shattered; many communities live in fear, and the international community is grappling with complex issues of security and human rights. 

Below is a timeline of some other high-profile abductions that have grabbed headlines in Nigeria before and after the Chibok tragedy. 

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Feb 25, 2014 — FGC Buni Yadi, Yobe abduction 

The Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping shocked the world, but it wasn’t the start. A few months before Chibok, 58 male students of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi in Yobe state, left their houses and never returned. They were attacked and killed by Boko Haram militants.

They were later called the Buni Yadi boys who received death sentences from extremists simply for seeking western education. Three years later, AbdulKadir Abubakar, the man who led the attack, was arrested and has remained in military detention

Feb 19, 2018 — Dapchi, Yobe abduction

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Approximately 275 km away from the northwest of Chibok lies Dapchi, a quiet and rural community in Yobe state that suddenly went into pandemonium when news broke out that Boko Haram insurgents had carried out a mass abduction at the Government Girls Secondary and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state.

Those abducted included 111 students of the school and two other pupils from an unnamed primary school.  Five of the girls later die in captivity while the remaining, except one, got released. Leah Sharibu, the only girl who reportedly did not convert to Islam has remained in captivity ever since. 

December 11, 2020 — Kankara, Katsina abduction 

In a brazen attack, over 300 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School, a boys’ boarding school in Kankara, Katsina state. Gunmen on motorcycles stormed the school, holding the students captive for over an hour.  

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The students were released six days later, after rescue intervention by the state government.  

February 17, 2021 — Kagara, Niger abduction

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Students abducted from Kagara

Gunmen targeted the Government Science College in Kagara, Niger state, and 41 people including staff members, students and their family members were taken hostage.

The victims were eventually released after negotiations with the abductors.

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February 26, 2021 — Jangebe, Zamfara abduction   

 A few days after the Kagara abduction incident, over 300 schoolgirls were taken captive at the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara state. Thankfully, the state government announced the release of the girls a few days later.

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May 30, 2021 —  Tegina, Niger state abduction 

Over 150 students were abducted from Salihu Tanko Islamic School in Rafi LGA of Niger state when armed bandits attacked the community. 

The abductors demanded N200 million in ransom shortly after the children were kidnapped. However, the state government said it would not comply with the demand but rather negotiate.

Some of the children were said to have died in captivity, while the remaining gained their freedoms months later. 

June 17, 2021 — Birnin-Yauri, Kebbi abduction 

On a Friday afternoon, students of Abarshi Secondary School in Birnin-Yauri prayed for the safe return of the girls in captivity

Dozens of students and teachers were abducted from the Federal Government College Birnin-Yauri in Kebbi state.

Gunmen on motorbikes attacked the boarding school in the afternoon, killing a policeman and injuring some students before abducting unknown number of students and teachers. 

Troops of the Nigerian army rescued some of the students while many were reportedly released after a ransom was paid. Others regained freedom after several months in captivity. 

July 5, 2021 — Bethel Baptist, Kaduna abduction 

Students and staff of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna state were abducted by gunmen in the middle of the night. 

This incident sparked outrage in the state, raising concerns about the safety of students in boarding schools across Nigeria.

January 20, 2023 —  LGEA Primary School, Nasarawa abduction

News broke out in January 2023 of an abduction targeting a Local Government Education Authority (LEA) Primary School in Nasarawa state. 

The gunmen were said to have attacked the school at about 7 am, and six students were abducted in the process. Two of the students were rescued a day after the incident while the remaining four spent 14 days in abduction before rescue. 

January 30, 2024 —   Apostolic Faith School, Ekiti abduction 

Another disturbing incident unfolded in Ekiti state on January 30, 2024. Gunmen attacked the school bus of Apostolic Faith Secondary School, abducting an unknown number of pupils, a teacher and the bus driver. 

The pupils and their teacher were eventually rescued four days later while the bus driver was found dead. 

March 7, 2024 — Kuriga, Kaduna abduction

Schoolchildren abducted from Kuriga

Just a few months later, on March 8, 2024, another abduction occurred in Kaduna state. Gunmen surrounded the Government Secondary School, Kuriga, Chikun LGA of Kaduna, abducted 287 students and killed one vigilante in the process. 

Uba Sani, the state governor, announced their release some weeks later, but he did not confirm if all the students were released. 

March 9, 2024 — Tsangaya School, Sokoto abduction 

The most recent of the abductions occurred on March 9, 2024, at Tsangaya school in Gidan Bakuso in Gada LGA of Sokoto state. Bandits attacked the school and abducted 15 students

Before the attack, the bandits had earlier invaded the community, shot at a person and abducted a woman.

The students regained freedom after spending 14 days in captivity; they were reportedly rescued during military operations. 

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