…317 students kidnapped – Police, ..It’s violation of children’s rights – UNICEF
The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) Friday described as “unfortunate and sad” the abduction of students of Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe, in Zamfara state.
The chairman of the Forum, the governor of Plateau state, Simon Lalong, said the trend was unacceptable and that strong measures must be taken to put an end to it before it “escalates into a monster that will consume educational pursuit and national aspirations.”
In a statement issued by his director of press, Dr. Makut Macham, Lalong said the development which is coming on the heels of the abduction of school children in Kagara, Niger state, “which is still being addressed, calls for serious concerns among all Nigerians.”
“As Northern governors, we are deeply saddened by this embarrassing and unfortunate attack on our children who are in schools to seek knowledge and build capacity to impact the nation and create a better society.
“The assault on schools where innocent and harmless students are targeted should not be condoned in any way because it has the tendency to set the nation back to ignorance and more poverty.
“The Northern part of the country in particular is more educationally disadvantaged and cannot afford to have these disruptions. Enough is enough,” he said.
According to the statement, the NSGF urged security agencies to use every asset at their disposal to rescue the children and bring to justice those behind the act.
It also called on Nigerians to support the security agencies and the government with credible information that would lead to swift resolution of the situation.
Lalong sympathised with the families of the abducted school children, the people and the government of Zamfara state, and gave the assurance that Forum would lend its support in tackling the problem.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Zamfara, Abutu Yaro has confirmed the abduction of 317 students of the school.
Yaro disclosed this while speaking to journalists on Friday in Jangebe, Talata-Mafara local government area of the state.
“People must understand that the government and security agents are on their side and against the bandits. That is why it is very important for them to see the need to allow security agents to do their work effectively and rescue the victims.
“We are doing our best along with all sister security agencies, members of the vigilance group and the state government to get to the bottom of this matter. l can assure you that we will rescue all the students unhurt,” he said.
Some residents who spoke with journalists said the bandits came in their hundreds riding on motorcycles and shooting into the air before entering the school around 2:00 a.m. on Friday.
In its reaction, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) condemned the incident, describing it as “a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through,” which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being.
While acknowledging the efforts being made by the federal government, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, urged all stakeholders to make schools safe in the country.
He said, “We are angered and saddened and by yet another brutal attack on schoolchildren in Nigeria.
“This is a gross violation of children’s rights and a horrific experience for children to go through – one which could have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being. We utterly condemn the attack and call on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of all other schoolchildren in Nigeria.
“UNICEF acknowledges efforts being made by the Government of Nigeria to secure the release of kidnapped schoolchildren in Nigeria and calls on the government and all concerned to make schools safe in Nigeria.
Humanitarian affairs minister’s reaction
In her reaction, the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, condemned the act and expressed concern over the frequent abductions.
In a statement issued Friday by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Bashir Nura Alkali, the minister said the abduction happened barely a few weeks after terrorists abducted students of Government Science College Kagara in Niger state.
She described the act as “regrettable, inhuman and traumatic”, adding that it should be condemned at all levels.
“Farouq stands in solidarity with the parents and guardians of the children and prays for the safety and immediate release of their wards. She assures the parents of the federal government’s determination to secure the safe release of their children,” the statement read in part.