It was a sad morning when people assembled inside the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Nigeria, on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, to lament over hundreds of students that are missing after alleged gunmen attacked the secondary school in the country’s northwestern Katsina state.
Katsina State police spokesman Gambo Isah said in a testimony that the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara was ambushed on Friday night by a vast group of raiders who shot with AK-47 rifles.
It was alleged that certain rebels from the Boko Haram Islamic extremist group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for kidnaping hundreds of boys from a school in Katsina State Nigeria last week. This is one of the largest attack of such nature this year. However, there is a rising fear of a growing wave of violence in the region recently.
More than 344 students remain missing from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara after gunmen with assault rifles and assaulted the school Friday night, although scores of other students managed to escape.
Hence, the government and the attackers have finally negotiated the fate of the boys, according to Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Also, The Daily Nigerian said, it obtained an audio message from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau alleging the abduction of the boys although, there has been no independent confirmation of its genuineness.
The Islamic extremist group has carried out a mass kidnapping of students in the past. The most crucial one took place in April 2014, when more than 270 schoolgirls were taken from their dormitory at the Government Secondary School in Chibok in northeastern Borno State yet, about 100 of the girls are still missing.
In February 2014, 59 boys were killed during a Boko Haram onslaught on the Federal Government College Buni Yadi in Yobe State.
In the audio message about Friday’s attack, Shekau alleged his group commandeered the schoolboys because Western education is against the tenets of Islam.
However, If Boko Haram is verified to be behind the abduction, it could imply a new wave of religious extremism is on the rise in northwest Nigeria. For more than 10 years, the group has committed a bloody campaign for inaugurating a strict Islamic rule, but it has been extremely active in northeast Nigeria, not in the northwest, where Katsina State is located. Thousands have been murdered and more than a million people evicted by the violence.
Nnamdi Obasi of the International Crisis Group said “a shift of Boko Haram’s movements to the northwest, would have severe security implications because it could ally with other armed criminal factions known to carry out attacks and collect payments from households and markets,” he alleged.
“They are Iike mini-armies that can carry out operations in hostility to the security forces, and it is problematic,” Obasi asserted.
Friday’s kidnapping has become a march cry for Nigerians as they are fed up with rising violence, with #BringBackOurBoys trending on Twitter as people affirm their frustrations, as related #BringBackOurGirls, became an international rallying cry for the Chibok girls.
Undoubtedly, this attack has become a major obstacle for education in Katsina, which was beginning to make progress in enrollment. Also, people will be discouraged in sending their kids to school because the Kankara residents are terrified and traumatized.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said, “there is a “reasonable basis to believe” Boko Haram and splinter groups linked to it committed crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery and torture, as well as intentionally targeting schools and places of worship and using child soldiers. While a vast majority of the criminality in the conflict has been carried out by Boko Haram, prosecutors also found grounds to believe members of Nigeria’s security forces had committed crimes,” she alleged.
The Nigerian military has rescued the 344 boys who were kidnapped during an assault on the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina state last week, according to Abdu Labaran, a spokesman for Katsina Gov. Aminu Bello Masari.
Masari told CNN that the children in a video that was released earlier yesterday which included the logo of the Boko Haram militant group were the same students who were abducted last week.
However, Masari refuted the involvement of Boko Haram in the abductions, instead, he blamed the “local bandits.” He also indicated that a voice in the video asserting to be Abubakar Shekau, a leader of one of Boko Haram’s groups, was actually a bandit “mimicking” his voice, Masari alleged.
President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the release of the children and characterized their safe return as “a big relief to their families, the entire country and international community,” spokesman Garba Shenu wrote on his Twitter handle.
Buhari on Thursday maintained and asserted that his government was elected to bring an end to the abductions of any sort by Islamic extremists and their allies. However, “when we came, we made endeavours that granted the return of the Chibok Girls. Also, when a similar incident occurred at Dapchi school, we successfully returned all but one of the more than 100 abductees. Accordingly, when this latest abduction of our Kankara boys happened, we put in our efforts and today we have this result to show,” Mr President asserted.