The kidnap crisis in Northern Nigeria – Guardian
Perceived aloofness is compounding matters, with school children increasingly coming under abductions.
The remaining wares of students of Bethel Baptist High School are seen inside the school premises as parent of abducted students pray for the return of their children whom were abducted by gunmen in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria on July 14, 2021. – The girls are just two of the more than 100 Nigerian children snatched from Bethel Baptist High School nearly three weeks ago, herded by gunmen into the forests after a kidnapping raid on their dormitories.<br />The July 5 attack in Nigeria’s northwest Kaduna state was just the latest mass abduction at a school or college as kidnap gangs seeking quick ransoms zero in on soft target of young students.<br />Armed kidnappings for ransom along highways, and from homes and businesses now make almost daily newspaper headlines in Africa’s most populous country. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)
How do you describe the spate of abductions – of school children and older Nigerians – in Northern Nigeria without bringing in the word, crisis? For the observer, a July 6, 2021 article published by German media outfit DW on the subject will ring true. It doesn’t just pass as the need to be sincere with the way abductions have gone from Zamfara to Niger, Kaduna to Kebbi. It’s a call to action, in every sense. The article titled, Nigerian kidnappings reach crisis point, captures how the sordid situation has morphed – together with its trappings – in the last ten months.
For the wrong reasons, Jangebe in Zamfara state and Kankara in neighbouring Katsina recently came into the spotlight. In both areas, bandits abducted schoolchildren in large numbers – 279 in Jangebe and 344 in Kankara. And these is just a few of the places where bandits have inflicted or served sorrow, tears, and blood on victims and relatives of the abducted. It’s sad that such places in the North now carry the ‘unsafe spaces’ tag.
On September 3, TheCable Index, a Lagos-based data, research and policy outfit did a great job analysing the problem at hand. Hopefully, that helps us understand this problem and its underpinnings. From its findings, no fewer than 821 students have regrettably being subjected to the ‘abduction treatment’ in the first eight months of 2021. But that’s just a part of the disturbing revelation. The figure – 821 – far outweighs two-thirds of the 1191 students kidnapped across Nigeria between 2014 and 2020. Worrisome.
The social, psychological and economic costs of the menace is at best imagined than experienced. One of the parents of students kidnapped at Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna some two months ago, provides some understanding: “My daughter marked her birthday here in the school on the Saturday before her abduction. We expect to have her at home by this weekend only to hear that the school was attacked and many of our children were abducted from their hostels.
“My daughter had a dream to be a lawyer which she is very personate about. This is a girl that has not trek that far before this unfortunate development. I’m worried about her condition and that of her colleagues.” It’s that troubling.
How about 13-year-old Musa kidnapped in Katsina last December? Musa and 343 more boys were kidnapped in their sleep at the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara. The poor boy simply told his father he would not return to school. Those narrations from Bethel and Kankara exposes the consistent failure of the government to keep school children and older citizens safe.
In all of these, the abuse of drugs also plays an ‘integral’ role. At a briefing in February this year, Buba Marwa, chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), painted the inglorious role of drug abuse: “90% of all criminalities in Nigeria today ranging from banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, rape, and others is linked to the use of illicit drugs. “Nobody in his right sense will take up arms to kidnap, rape and kill innocent people. Therefore if we are able to tackle the issue of drug abuse, most of the security challenges the nation is facing now would have been solved.”
In a way, Marwa’s submissions speak to the problem at hand and offer a way out. But there is more to be done. Past kidnap incidents suggest there is some of sort of complacency that can only be addressed by trust and a high sense of responsibility. The nation’s security forces should consist of trustworthy citizens, who are keen on keeping everyone safe and secure. No Nigerian, regardless of age, tribe or religious leaning, should feel insecure and threatened from the North to the South anymore.
Odunoye, a social commentator wrote from Lagos.
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