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TIMELINE: How over 595 students were kidnapped in the first half of 2021

TIMELINE: How over 595 students were kidnapped in the first half of 2021
June 23
11:14 2021

At the tail end of 2020, Nigeria suffered a security blow that sent the entire nation on high alert. On December 11, with President Muhammadu Buhari present in Kastina, a defiant group of bandits invaded Government Science Secondary School in Kankara LGA of the state. The assailants roved into the school compound on motorcycles, shooting sporadically into the air before abducting 344 students — with the president of the country just 188km away. The effect of the incident was seismic as it poked the festering wound of school abductions in Chibok and Dapchi from which Nigeria has not completely healed.

Little did Nigerians know that the Kankara abduction was only the beginning of a criminal fad that will see bandits persistently attack schools and kidnap over 595 students in the first six months of the New Year.

Here is a rundown of the abductions:

Twenty-seven pupils kidnapped in Kagara

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Just as the dusk began to lift over the sky of Kagara in the early hours of February 17, another kind of darkness descended on the town. A marauding gang of bandits invaded Government Science College in the community, overpowered the security guards, killed one student and snared an initially unknown number of children and staff members away.

students

It was not until noon on that unfortunate day that Bello Abdullahi, governor of Niger state, officially put the number of abducted students at 27 alongside 15 staff members.

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The victims were not released until after 10 days in the kidnappers’ dens — with those who are wards of military personnel specifically targeted for excessive maltreatment.

Over 270 abducted in Jangebe

While the country was still frantic from the fresh abduction of Kagara students, another pincer landed.

students

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On February 26, in Jangebe town of Talata-Mafara LGA, Zamfara state, residents were jerked awake from sleep by sporadic shooting. The rat-tat of the guns escalated into the hair-raising boom of doors getting kicked down as a set of bandits raided some houses in the community, and the residents could only watch as the brazen gunmen proceeded to their next target. The assailants headed for the Government Girls Secondary School located in the area and left with 279 students.

The girls were freed on March 2, after a ”peace reconciliation” with the bandits and the state government.

Leading the federal government’s delegation to the state after the girls’ release, Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, said the president promised the incident will be the last school adoption the nation would ever witness under his administration. But the president’s vow failed to materialise.

Twenty-nine kidnapped in Afaka

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Less than two weeks after the federal government pledged Jangebe abduction will be the last, bandits struck again.

On March 12, gunmen attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi LGA of Kaduna state, and abducted 29 students.

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The following day, the abductors released videos in which the students were seen sitting on the floor in an unknown location, guarded by armed men whose identities were concealed.

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In the videos, the victims appealed to the government to pay the ransom demanded by the bandits so that they would be freed.

Through it all, the Kaduna state government remained adamant on its earlier resolve that struck out negotiating with bandits as an option.

On the evening of May 5, news filtered through that the kidnappers have agreed to release the students — after seven weeks of abduction. It was reported that the students were ransomed by a pool of contribution from the victims’ parents.

Two primary school pupils ‘went missing’ in Rama

On March 15, another gang of suspected bandits invaded UBE primary school in Rama, Birnin-Gwari LGA of the state.

According to Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna commissioner for internal security and home affairs, two pupils who were initially missing were later found. He then added that three teachers — Rabiu Salisu, Umar Hassan, and Bala Adamu — were abducted.

Twenty Greenfield University students kidnapped

When, on April 18, another group of bandits abducted 20 students from Greenfield University, Kaduna, and the criminal trend assumed a more bloody dimension.

The assailants wanted N800 million as ransom, and when the demands were not met to early enough, they killed five of the students, further threatening to kill more.

students

On May 29, the remaining students were released from captivity by their abductors. A parent of one of the abductees claimed the bandits were paid N180 million before they were released.

A student kidnapped in Plateau.

On April 29, gunmen abducted a student of the Calvary Ministries, a mission agency popularly known as CAPRO, in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau state.

The gunmen reportedly attacked the school in the night, and after a fierce gun battle with security operatives, they went away with one of the students.

A student abducted in Abeokuta

On May 23, Olayinka Tokunbo, a Federal University of Agriculture student, Abeokuta, was abducted from a farm near the institution. He was kidnapped alongside another man and one lady.

He was, however, set free three days later with details of his release withheld by the authorities.

Another 156 children abducted in Niger

On May 30, bandits on 70 motorcycles and attacked 17 communities across three LGAs of Niger state. The gunmen then proceeded to Salihu Tanko Islamic School, Tegina, and abducted 156 schoolchildren.

The bandits then released 11 of the children “who were too small and couldn’t walk,” demanding N110 million as ransom.

Abubakar Alhassan, the school’s headmaster, said one of the parents of the abducted children died few days after the incident from shock.

The schoolchildren are still in captivity as of the time of filing this report.

‘Eighty’ students kidnapped in Kebbi

On June 17, many students were reportedly abducted by some bandits who attacked the Federal Government College, Birnin-Yauri in Kebbi state.

Kebbi school

The gunmen went away with several students — estimated to be 80 — after a gun battle that overpowered the police officers on the ground. One of the officers was killed, and five teachers were kidnapped alongside the students.

One of the students that escaped the attack claimed that the assailants are not Nigerians.

Subsequently, five students and two teachers were rescued, while one was killed during a rescue mission by security operatives.

 

 

 

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