Childhood in Nigeria: An armed gang broke into a school and kidnapped 280 students

Armed persons kidnapped more than 280 students in an attack on a school in northwestern Nigeria, a teacher and a resident told the media while official information from the Nigerian authorities is still awaited

by Sededin Dedovic
Childhood in Nigeria: An armed gang broke into a school and kidnapped 280 students
© Associated Press / Youtube channel

Gunmen have carried out a brutal attack on a school in northwestern Nigeria, resulting in the kidnapping of more than 280 students. This alarming situation caused a wave of fear and indignation in the local community. The incident took place at the Kuriga school, in the Nigerian state of Kaduna, whose authorities confirmed that there had been an abduction, but still did not provide precise information about the number of abducted students.

Sani Abdullahi, one of the teachers at the school, said the staff reacted bravely at the time of the attack, managing to evacuate a large number of students as the gunmen fired into the air. However, there was not enough time or resources to protect every child, leading to the abduction of their peers.

According to the statements of the locals, more than 280 children of various ages were abducted. There is a chaotic situation in the village, and fear reigned in the surrounding districts. Muhamad Adam, among those who witnessed this horrific event, shared his harrowing story with the media, highlighting the scale of the tragedy.

"More than 280 children were abducted. At first we thought there were 200, but after a careful count we found that a little more than 280 children were abducted," Adam told France Press. As the community grapples with the aftermath of this brutal attack, Nigerian authorities face the challenge of providing an adequate response and protecting schools across the country.

Amnesty International condemned this attack and called for urgent measures to protect and prevent similar incidents in the future. This attack is just the latest in a series of violent incidents that have rocked Nigeria in recent years.

Criminal gangs often target schools, especially in rural areas. This continuing threat poses serious challenges to the education system and the safety of children across Nigeria. What used to be a relatively rare incident has now become a frequent occurrence, which has created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, especially in the northwest and northeast of the country.

Abducted children, mostly girls, are often exposed to physical and psychological trauma, and their families go through incredible anxiety and financial burden. One of the main groups responsible for kidnapping children is the jihadist group Boko Haram.

In 2014, their abduction of 276 girls from a school in Chibok sparked international outrage. Although some girls managed to escape, a large number of them are still missing. Boko Haram has continued similar attacks over the years, abducting girls from Dapchi (2018) and Katsina (2020).

Their goal is often forced marriage or the use of children as soldiers.

A young female soldier sits in a truck just prior to a rebel attack© Chris Hondros / Getty Images

In addition to Boko Haram, armed gangs also play a significant role in kidnappings.

These groups often demand ransom from desperate families, creating a lucrative "kidnapping industry." In 2021, there was a series of shocking abductions of students from schools in Jangebe, Zamfara and Tegina. Fortunately, in most of these cases the children are released, but their experience remains traumatic.

Nigeria's president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, took office in 2023 with a promise to deal with insecurity fueled by extremist groups, bandits in the northeast and rising inter-ethnic violence in the central parts of the country.

However, a kidnapping of this magnitude highlights the urgent need for more effective measures and strategies to protect children and ensure the safety of educational institutions. The Nigerian government has taken measures to counter this epidemic.

Kidnapping laws have been tightened, and the military and police forces are trying to rescue the abductees and catch the perpetrators. A huge number of military and police forces are engaged, but the complexity of the situation is given by the fact that the armed gangs are equipped with some modern weapons.

It is an additional problem because in these situations children are hostages and some coordinated action by Nigeria's security agencies could cause the killing of civilians. In addition to this latest development, recent reports of the abduction of more than 100 women in northeastern Nigeria point to a growing problem of violence and uncertainty affecting various segments of society.

Nigeria is facing an intense increase in the abduction of women in addition to children. Women are abducted from the roads, from schools, and even from their homes. Reasons vary from ransom, forced marriage, or slavery. This trend is causing fear and insecurity, and an increased focus on security and programs to protect women is needed.

Perhaps the biggest problem is because these armed groups have several times "successfully carried out an action" and paid handsomely for the return of children to their families. After the first time, that criminal chain should have been broken, because obviously this is becoming a trend and an opportunity to earn money because the perpetrators go unpunished.

However, they often kidnap male children to make soldiers and girls and women to be their slaves. Nigeria, as one of the most populous countries in Africa, faces complex security and stability challenges. The kidnapping of students and other violent incidents undermine the foundations of society and the education system.

International support and the joint effort of the government and local communities are key to protecting the most vulnerable, but there is definitely a long and difficult road ahead.