No fewer than 148 students and health workers and among others have been abducted in Kaduna State in the last 48 hours, The PUNCH reports.
While the bandits abducted 140 students from the Bethel Baptist High School on Monday, at least eight people were abducted from the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria early on Sunday morning.
In the Monday incident, the gunmen opened fire and overpowered security guards after storming the Baptist school in the early hours of Monday.
Police said 165 resident pupils were in the school when the bandits struck but 25 were “rescued”, including a female teacher.
“The kidnappers took away 140 students, only 25 students escaped. We still have no idea where the students were taken,” teacher Emmanuel Paul told AFP.
Kaduna state police spokesman Muhammed Jalige added, “Tactical police teams went after the kidnappers. We are still on the rescue mission.”
Barely 24 hours before the students’ abduction, two nurses and a 12-month-old child were among those seized in a leprosy centre.
The PUNCH reports that there has been a recent spate of abductions from schools and universities for ransom with an estimated 1,000 students and pupils abducted in Nigeria since December.
Monday’s attack was at least the fourth mass school kidnapping in Kaduna State since December 2020.
However, most of the victims have been released after negotiations with local officials, and some are still being held.
Kaduna shuts schools
Following the attack on the Bethel Baptist High School on Monday, the Kaduna State government ordered the immediate closure of 13 schools located in areas identified as vulnerable to attacks by bandits.
The affected schools include Faith Academy, along Kachia Road adjacent to Jakaranda; Deeper Life Academy, Maraban Rido; Ecwa Secondary school, Ungwar Maje and Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi.
Others are St. Peters Minor Seminary, Katari; Prelude Secondary School, Kujama; Ibiso Secondary school, Tashar Iche; Tulip International (Boys) School and Tulip International (Girls) School.
Also on the list are Goodnews Secondary School, St. Augustine, Kujama; Comprehensive Development Institution (CDI), Tudun Mare and Adventist College, Kujama.
El-Rufai condemns attack, gets ‘hourly’ reports
The Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, condemned Monday’s kidnapping, saying that he was getting an hourly report on the situation.
The Governor described the development as unfortunate and an untold evil to humanity in a statement on Monday.
“According to reports received from security agencies, twenty-eight students were accounted for while an unspecified number were abducted by the bandits. The Governor is following the development and receiving hourly situation reports,” the statement added.
Bandits force gov to withdraw son from public school
El-Rufai said that he withdrew his seven-year-old son, Abubakar Al-Sadiq El-Rufai, from Kaduna Capital school, after bandits attempted to kidnap him twice.
The governor had enrolled his son Al-Sadiq in Kaduna Capital School about a year half ago in a bid to boost confidence in parents to patronise public schools.
He said, “I have taken a stand against paying bandits. We got intel that they were planning to kidnap my son from Kaduna Capital School to see whether I will pay ransom if they kidnap my son.”