John Shiklam in Kaduna, Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano, Francis Sardauna in Katsina, and Laleye Dipo in Minna
No fewer than 618 schools have remained closed in six northern states over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff, according to a tally by THISDAY.
Also, barely three days after the abduction of 39 students of the Federal School of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, security agencies on Saturday rescued 307 pupils of Government Secondary Science School (GSSS) Ikara, Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna from bandits who attempted to kidnap them from their school.
Security forces also repelled attempts at fresh attack on the senior staff quarters of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Kaduna, where 11 people were abducted about two weeks ago.
The six states where some schools have remained closed are Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Yobe.
In Sokoto, the state government has closed all boarding schools along border towns.
The state Commissioner for Security and Career Affairs, Col. Garba Moyi (rtd), said the measure was to avoid the abduction of pupils just as it happened in Katsina, Niger and Zamfara States.
He added that the state Governor, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, had directed the state commissioner for education to merge those schools with the ones in towns.
According to him, schools affected include those in Sabon Birni, Isa Rabah, Kebbe, Tangaza and Gudu local government areas.
THISDAY gathered that 16 boarding schools were affected.
The Zamfara State Government also closed boarding schools along the border towns after the Jangebe incident.
In a reaction to the abduction of 279 pupils of Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata Mafara LGA, Governor Bello Matawalle had shut down 10 schools along the borders with Sokoto and Katsina States.
The state Commissioner for Education, Mr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, listed the 10 affected schools as Government Secondary Schools in Zurmi; GSS Birnin Magaji, (boarding) and G.A.S.S Zurmi (boarding); G.G.S.S Moriki (boarding); Science Secondary School Shinkafi (boarding); Science Secondary School, Dansadau (boarding); Science Secondary School, Bukkuyum (boarding); G.D. S. S Nassarawa Mailayi (day); G.D.S.S Gusami (day), and G.D.S.S Gurbin Bore (day).
In Katsina, the state government had initially shut down all its 38 boarding schools after the abduction of 344 pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara.
But the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Badamasi Lawal, later announced the reopening of four out of the 38 boarding schools after a meeting with zonal inspectors of education and permanent secretaries.
He listed the four boarding schools which reopened on March 2 as the Command Secondary School, Faskari; Command Girls Secondary School, Barkiya; Command Secondary School, Musawa and Police Secondary School, Mani.
The commissioner explained that male pupils in the remaining 34 boarding schools should report to the nearest day secondary school in their location to continue with their studies, while female students should remain at home until the security situation in the state improves.
The Kano State Government also closed four tertiary institutions and 12 secondary schools over insecurity in neighbouring states.
The five tertiary schools closed are Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso College of Advance and Remedial Studies, Tudun Wada; School of Environmental Studies, Gwarzo; School of Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship Development (SORTED), Rano and Audu Bako College of Agriculture Development (ABCOAD), Dambatta.
The state government also closed 12 boarding secondary schools on the outskirts of Kano metropolis over increasing abduction of pupils.
The state Commissioner for Education, Mr. Muhammad Sunusi Kiru, said the closure became necessary due to the rising number of abductions of schoolchildren in neighbouring states.
The closed schools are located in Ajingi, Sumaila, Jogana, Kafin Maiyaki and Gaya, among others.
All secondary schools in Niger State have been closed by the state government.
The two-week closure was from March 12.
The Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Hannatu Salihu, said the closure of the schools was to enable the government to make adequate security arrangements to protect the pupils and workers.
In the wake of the abduction of 42 persons from the Government Science College, Kagara, the state government had closed only the boarding schools in Rafi, Mariga, Magama and Shiroro LGAs, which were believed to be prone to bandits’ attacks.
With the closure of all secondary schools in the state, THISDAY gathered that about 496 schools were affected.
The Information Officer of the State Ministry of Education, Alhaji Jibrin Kodo, told THISDAY that 56 boarding schools with two of them mixed are affected while the rest of the schools in the state are day schools.
He declined to state the total number of schools in the state.
The Yobe State government also closed all boarding schools as part of proactive measures to safeguard pupils’ lives.
The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr. Muhammed Idris, who announced the measure, said: “Students from JSS I to SSS II should vacate their schools immediately.
“The closure of the boarding schools is informed by the security concern and the urgent need for government to be proactive in safeguarding the lives of the children”.
The commissioner, however, said all day schools were to continue with their normal academic activities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), quoted the commissioner as saying that further statements would be made concerning the reopening of the schools as soon as possible.
THISDAY gathered that 46 boarding schools were affected by the closure.
Security Agencies Foil Attacks on School, FAAN Quarters in Kaduna
Meanwhile, barely three days after the abduction of 39 students of the Federal School of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna, security agencies on Saturday foiled attempts by bandits to abduct 307 pupils of Government Secondary Science School (GSSS) Ikara, Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna state.
The Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, told journalists yesterday in Kaduna that security forces also repelled attempts at a fresh attack on the senior staff quarters of the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN), Kaduna, where 11 people were abducted about two weeks ago.
Aruwan said the bandits stormed GSSS, Ikara, in the late hours of Saturday in an attempt to kidnap the pupils, who alerted security agencies that responded swiftly, forcing the bandits to flee.
Aruwan said: “Between the late hours of Saturday night and the early hours of today (Sunday), suspected bandits stormed the Government Science Secondary School, Ikara, Ikara Local Government Area, in an attempt to kidnap students.
“Fortunately, the students utilised the security warning system in place, and were thus able to alert security forces in the area.
“The security forces comprising the troops of the Nigerian Army, the police and some security volunteers, moved swiftly to the school and engaged the bandits, forcing them to flee.
“The military and police are still on the trail of the armed bandits.”
He added that following a head-count of the pupils by the management of the school, “the Kaduna State government can confirm to you that all 307 students have been verified safe and present. The attempted kidnap was foiled completely and no student was taken from the school.”
The commissioner said a fresh attempt to attack the Kaduna senior staff quarters of FAAN was repelled by security agencies.
According to him, troops foiled the attempt as they engaged and repelled them, with some of the bandits escaping with gunshot wounds.
The commissioner said the Kaduna State government also acknowledged the efforts of the security agencies in the recent rescue of 180 students in the vicinity of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka.
“These efforts have been mentioned in interviews given by some of the rescued students.
“By virtue of access to the facts of the event, the Kaduna State government extends its unequivocal solidarity to the military, police, Department of State Services and other security agencies, whose swift intervention prevented the bandits from abducting more persons,” Aruwan stated.
According to him, the focus of the state government is on getting back the missing students and preventing further episodes of school abductions.
“We will continue to provide updates as further information becomes available,” he added.
Bandits had invaded the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna and abducted 39 students.
A video of the abducted students has gone viral on social media, showing the students appealing to the government to settle the bandits as they were being flogged by the criminals.