Un Chief Calls For Unconditional Release Of Abducted School Children In Nigeria

Nigerian gang members have abducted 39 students from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Mando, Kaduna. The attack occurred on Thursday, March 11th at 11:30 PM when gunmen on motorcycles conquered the boarding school and terrorized its attendees.

According to a statement by Samuel Aruwan, Commissioner for Kaduna State Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, there was a military encounter with the armed group when the abduction happened. The fierce military operation was successful in freeing 180 students and staff. However, 23 males and 16 females are still under the armed group’s hands.

A video released by the gang on social media platforms showed tragic footage of the victims crying for help while being beaten and whipped by the armed bandits. The abductees were seen begging to be freed while being cluttered close together on a forest ground. In response, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressed his commitment to free the victims in a timely manner. Along with pledging to not permit armed groups to hijack the Nigeran educational system, he said, “we are going to be very hard on the criminals” and “confidence must be restored in governance within the next six weeks.”

Such events are not new to Nigeria. Four similar abductions took place by armed gangs since December of 2020, resulting in at least 600 students being taken. A report by SB Morgen (SBM) suggests that Nigeria had to pay $18.34 million to armed gangs from 2011 to 2020 to free victims from their kidnappers. Armed gangs are usually paid between $20 and $200,000 to free each victim.

United Nations (UN) spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists that UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for “the immediate and unconditional release of those students that remain in captivity.” Along with expressing concerns about how such events are negatively affecting Nigerians, he stated, “ schools must remain safe spaces for children to learn without fear of violence or kidnapping or any other attacks on them.”

Nigerian officials are ramping up their efforts to immediately locate and free the abducted victims. State police spokesman Mohammadu Jalinge said that there is a plan to surround the forest where the armed group is believed to be located. He added that “an operation for the students’ rescue is underway by security personnel from the army, air force, police and DSS (secret police).”

Kidnappings like these directly threaten the safety of children and young adults in Nigeria. The parents of the abducted individuals are demanding immediate action from the government to help free their children and are diligently awaiting their ambiguous fate.