About 108 of the 136 pupils abducted by bandits from Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School, Tegina, in Rafi local government area of Niger State are girls, LEADERSHIP findings have revealed.
This is even as the bandits have again ceased communication with the school authorities.
The bandits had stormed the school about two weeks ago, whisking away 137 schoolchildren into captivity.
While they are demanding for N200 million ransom, the Niger State government said it was doing everything to secure the children’s release but would not pay ransom.
LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday that the school is one of the schools used as a model for Integration of Islamiyya Education and western education, with emphasis on girl-child education.
It was learnt that Islamiyya content was embedded in the school curricula to encourage the parents, especially those from the suburban/ rural areas of Tegina to allow their children acquire western Education.
As a result, parents are said to allow their female children to attend the school as part of efforts to boost girl-child education.
Headmaster of the school, Alhassan Garba Abubakar, told LEADERSHIP yesterday that 80 per cent of the pupils are girls. This, he said, is so because the school was established to also encourage girl-child education.
Abubakar said, “Some children as young as four years were among the female pupils abducted by the bandits, making our fears grow more about their state of health.”
On negotiation with the bandits, he said the criminals have stopped communicating with the school authority.
“Again, for the past three days now they (bandits) have not communicated with us; we are just here praying and hoping”.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the last time the bandits spoke with the school authority and parents of the children, they indicated that some of the pupils had fallen sick. They also reduced the ransom from N200million to N150 million.
Residents Flee Kaduna Villages As Kidnapping Persists
Meanwhile, investigations further revealed that hundreds of residents residing in satellite settlements surrounding Kaduna metropolis have relocated in droves to safer suburbs for fear of being kidnapped for ransom.
It was gathered that residents of Kaduna city who farm in neighbouring communities have also abandoned their farms, citing insecurity in the affected areas as reason for absconding.
Residents of Gonigora, Kakau, Maraban Rido, Rigasa, Mando, among others living in shanty areas in the outskirts of Kaduna city and some parts of Birnin Gwari, have been most affected, as kidnappers keep launching attacks on the communities unexpectedly.
It was observed that many Kaduna suburbs have formed a joint security task force to complement conventional security agencies that have been working to address the security challenges in the state.
Several relatives of the victims said they have paid millions as ransom to bandits to secure the release of their loved ones.
It was also learnt that landlords in safer areas like Television, Sabon Tasha, among other areas, have increased their house rents following high demand for accommodations.
Jeremiah Eze, a resident of Kakau who relocated to Television area, said, “I have abandoned my house in Kakau and relocated with my family to this place. Things are not easy at all. We left a two-bedroom flat in Kakau to rent two ordinary rooms without a toilet and kitchen.
“House rent now is something else in Television, the price has increased. According to one house agent I met, one room before was N18,000 but now N24,000. The two rooms I paid for were N60,000 against N40,000”.
Another resident of Gonigora, Yakubu Sunday, said sometimes they have sleepless nights following gunshots in some settlements close to the area.
“I decided to move with my family to Sabon Tasha, which I believe is safer. No kidnapping in the area I was staying in Gonigora but there was an incident of kidnapping close to our area. There are undeveloped areas at the end of Gonigora community. There are not many people there and it is not safe to stay there. There was no problem at all in the crowded areas in Gonigora,” he said.
Kaduna State ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, had in April this year, disclosed during its quarterly security report that 949 persons were kidnapped by bandits in the last three months across the state.
Speaking at the second quarter 2021 meeting of directors of the State Commands of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) in the North West held in Kaduna recently, Governor Nasir el-Rufai confirmed that farmers in various communities are unable to go to their farms.
He said this is even when they are lucky to have fled their remote villages under pressure from the criminals.