An armed raid by militant gunmen at a school led to the death of one student, and the kidnapping of three teachers, 27 students, and nine family members.
The attack occurred on February 17, at a state-run school in Niger state, in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. According to former Nigerian senator Shehu Sani, the school had no perimeter fence, which made it easy for the militants to enter the area.
“The town is at the epicenter of the insurgency in Niger State. Fulani bandits operate within the axis and there are thousands of people displaced in this area. The bandits of the northwest of Nigeria are becoming more lethal and destructive than Boko Haram,” Sani told CNN.
The student who died in the attack has been identified as Benjamin Habila.
Are the Schools Safe?
Many in Nigeria are questioning whether it is safe to send kids to school, as this is not the first time an incident like this occurred. Just two months ago, around 300 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara, in Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina. All of the students were released soon after their kidnapping.
Mary Noel Barje, Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello’s chief press secretary, announced that all boarding schools in the area have been closed. She also noted that the military has been deployed to rescue the kidnapping victims.
President Buhari’s office released a statement condemning the attack.
“The President has directed the Armed Forces and Police, to ensure immediate and safe return of all the captives,” Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
“The President has also dispatched to Minna, Niger State a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation and meet with state officials, community leaders, as well as parents and staff of the college,” Shehu added.