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Tegina School Abductions: CHRICED Flays Abandonment of Children in Kidnappers Den

The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) strongly condemns the response and current approach of the Federal and State Governments to the plight of the abducted 136 pupils of Tanko Salihu Islamiyya School Tegina, Niger State. It will be recalled that the children were kidnapped from their school premises in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State on 30th April, 2021. It is most disheartening that several weeks after these innocent children were abducted, the government has neither demonstrated serious action, nor pushed hard enough to successfully track their abductors and rescue the children. This reality has left the parents stranded and distraught. 

The result is that out of desperation, the parents of the children in captivity, have been resorting to various self-help measures, including going to churches and mosques, to beg for monetary assistance to pay the N200 million ransom being demanded by the bandits. There can be no mincing words about the fact that the government, at both federal and state levels are failing in their responsibilities to these vulnerable children and their parents. The situation of the Tegina children follows a long pattern of lack of decisive action to address cases of kidnapping in schools and places of learning. 

This weak response to the government, whenever abductions occur, has been making criminals bolder, as they reckon that they would be under no pressure from the authorities when they commit their dastardly acts of criminality. While the position on non-payment of ransom to kidnappers, is commendable, CHRICED is however of the reasoned opinion that it is unacceptable for the government has been slow in taking decisive action to stop the outlaws. CHRICED believes it is not enough for the government to be issuing statements condoling or sympathising with the victims of armed banditry. In line with Section 14(2b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” It is only when the government lives up to this constitutional responsibility that it can derive legitimacy from the people. 

It is equally important to make the point that the whole world is watching developments in Nigeria. The spate of kidnaps and violent attacks on places of learning gives Nigeria a very bad rating in the comity of nations. All the talk about ease of doing business, and the push to attract investments would come to naught, if the government continues to project a lack of resolve in dealing with the security crisis assailing the country. Recently, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), expressed deep concern over the fate of the abducted school children, some of which according to the agency, are as young as three years old. It is painful that Nigeria has reached such a pathetic point that the safety of citizens can no longer be guaranteed. It is however not too late for the government to take decisive steps to rescue the children abducted in Niger State. They are children of Nigeria, and the country cannot afford to let them down in this moment. Importantly, therefore, all efforts must be galvanised to put a permanent halt to this malady before it consumes the entire education system.

Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Executive Director

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