Reacting to the attack in a statement, the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, described it as most unfortunate and unacceptable.
“UNICEF is aware of reports that yesterday morning, armed men attacked Government Science College in Kagara, in Niger State, Nigeria. According to unconfirmed reports, many students are unaccounted for, though it is not yet clear how many.
“UNICEF condemns in the strongest possible terms any attack on a school and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of any child who may be missing, and the safe return of the students to their families.
“UNICEF is deeply concerned about these reported acts of violence. Attacks on schools are a violation of children’s rights. Children should feel safe at home and at school at all times – and parents should not need to worry for the safety of their children when they send them off to school in the morning.
“We acknowledge the efforts being taken by the government of Nigeria for the safe return of missing children.”
Critical stakeholders in the education sector, including the National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT and the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, charged the Federal Government to decentralise security issues.
The National President of NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, said parents are very disturbed by the incessant kidnap of their children and wards, adding that it should be nipped in the bud now.
“We are so disturbed about the development. When the Federal Government wanted to reopen schools, we told them that it is not only reopening schools that matters but the security and safety of lives of the people involved. We don’t know where we are, and where we are heading to.
“Something is wrong somewhere. The situation is scary, and the responsibility is on all the tiers of government, particularly on the FG. If the President can empower state governors to handle security matters, in conjunction with military top shots and commissioners of police in their domains, the situation could be better.
“These criminals are now targeting our children to make easy money. Our children have become objects of bargaining. This is another form of coronavirus disease. Some parents are now wary of allowing their children to go back to school, “ he said.
The South-West Co-ordinator of NANS, Kappo Olawale Samuel, opined that the government has not got the issue of security right in the country.
“The Presidency just changed service chiefs, but nothing really has changed as far as security is concerned. I think we need to declare a state of emergency in the security sector. This kind of development is a great disservice to education. It is discouraging students, teachers and parents.
“Government should live up to the expectation of the people with regards to the protection of lives and properties in the country. It is really disheartening, “ he said.
Also speaking on the matter, Lagos State chairman of the NUT, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, said what is happening is a reflection of the insecurity in the country at large.
He said: “It is unfortunate and ungodly that bandits have taken students to be pawns in their hands. Though we are teachers, we are parents too and with the way things are going, anybody can fall victim. It is the duty of the government to protect the citizens, whether young or old.
“If government does not want the people to take the laws into their hands, it must do the needful. This trend of targeting schools must be stopped. The schools they go for are boarding schools and there are reasons the government provide boarding facilities in the schools. This is becoming really serious.’’
It will be recalled that on December 13, last year, 344 students of Government Science College, Kankara, Katsina State, were abducted by bandits and released on December 17 after a series of negotiations with the bandits.
Then, NAPTAN, NUT, NANS and others charged the government not to allow such a situation recur.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, expressed worry over the spate of abductions in the country, particularly, yesterday’s reported killing of a student and kidnapping of students of Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, Niger states by bandits.
The PDP in a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, tasked security forces to go after the outlaws and rescue the children unhurt.
The statement read in part: “Nigerians were jolted by Tuesday’s coordinated bandit attacks, kidnapping and killings in several communities in Niger state.
“Bandits were reported to have on Tuesday, moved from village to village, supported by a helicopter, as they pillaged our compatriots, sacked major highways and held communities in Niger State hostage for several hours without any counter attack.
“The PDP describes as revealing that while the people of Niger State and Nigerians in other states were under attack by bandits, All Progressives Congress, APC leaders, including those in Niger State, were busy pursuing their party’s phony membership re-registration exercise, instead of rallying security and rescue efforts for the people.
“This probably explains why the APC never raised a strong voice against what has become a national calamity. Instead, APC leaders are patronizing the bandits and making excuses for them.
“Our party charges the APC to speak out on these reports and take immediate steps to settle their political mercenaries, return them to wherever they brought them from and bring an end to these gruesome attacks on Nigerians.
“While commiserating with the victims of the Niger attacks, the PDP tasks the security forces to go after the bandits as well as rescue the Kagara school children before any harm comes upon them.”
Meanwhile, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has called on the Federal Government to rise to the occasion and defend Nigerians from senseless assault by bandits and kidnappers.
Condemning the Kagara abduction, the Wazirin Adamawa in a statement he personally signed said “the spate of insecurity in Nigeria is now beyond alarming. It has gotten to crisis levels, especially when it involves children and other minors.”
The statement continued: “Now is not the time for fingers to point in blame. Our nation needs solutions. We have now seen that paying ransom and allowing criminals to profit from their criminality is not a solution. When you reward crimes, the end result is more crime.
“The only long term solution to the insecurity challenge Nigeria is facing is to end the reign of impunity. The Federal Government must enforce the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against abductions and kidnappings, by apprehending the criminals, trying them and making an example of those convicted, to serve as a deterrent to others.