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Mass kidnapping of school children in Nigeria

Education Emergency Girls' Rights

Plan International has expressed outrage over the abduction of hundreds of school children in northwest Nigeria.

“The news of mass kidnapping of school children in Kaduna and Sokoto states is a sad reminder of the precarious situation of education in Nigeria and that of children and girls,” said Charles Usie, Plan International’s Country Director in Nigeria.

“We condemn it in totality. Taking innocent school children hostage is most regrettable and must never be normalised, as it symbolises attack on education and our collective future as a society.

“All children have an inalienable right to education, and schools must never be targets in armed conflict. Attacks on schools are an attack on the rights of the learners to education and a life of dignity.”

On Thursday, 7 March 2024, armed men were reported to have attacked a school in Kuriga, Kaduna state, forcibly abducting about 287 students aged between eight and 15 and their teachers into the vast forest.

The following day, Saturday 9 March 2024, armed men invaded the Gidan Bakuso area of Gada in Sokoto state, abducting 15 Tsangaya (Quranic) students.

Usie called on security forces to intensify efforts to secure the safe release of the students and teachers, highlighting the particular protection and exploitation dangers faced by the abducted girls.

He called on Nigerian President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu to “show the commitment of the Nigeria government to ensuring the safety and security of schools, learning centres, and learners by mandating the heads of relevant security agencies to take responsibility for the safe release of abducted children and their teachers.”

Nigeria is a signatory to the Safe School Declaration (SSD), which it endorsed in 2019. The Safe Schools Declaration is an inter-governmental political agreement that outlines a set of commitments to strengthen the protection of education from attack and restrict use of schools and universities for military purposes. It provides countries the opportunity to express support for protecting students, teachers, schools, and universities from attack during times of armed conflict, and the importance of the continuation of education during armed conflict.

Nigeria has been hit with several mass school abductions in the past decade, beginning with the Chibok girls’ incident in 2014, when more than 200 girls were taken into captivity by armed insurgents.

Since the Chibok incident, many more abductions have taken place, including in Dapchi, Yobe state (110 students), Jangebe, Zamfara state (279 students), and Bethel School, Kaduna, Kaduna state (140), with the latest (Sokoto) incident marking the 15th of such recorded mass abductions.