Northern states hire hunters to protect schools from bandits

Anxiety has gripped some parents,  guardians and others stakeholders, particularly in the northern part of the country as more primary and secondary schools resume today (Monday) amidst rising cases of  abductions and banditry.

Parents in the northern part of the country said they had changed their children’s schools because of fear of abduction.

They stated this as it was gathered on Sunday that some states had hired hunters and vigilantes to guard the schools.

While schools in some states like Ogun, Ekiti and Kano resumed for the new academic session on Monday last week, the Federal Capital Territory schools are resuming today.  Katsina State schools are will resume next week.

Stakeholders are, however, worried about the safety of school children.

The Country Representative of the United Nations Children Fund, Peter Hawkins, had last week in a press statement hinted that no fewer than one million students across the country would miss school this year due to fear of abduction and attacks.

The UN agency also said that 20 attacks had occurred in schools this year with 1,436 children abducted and 16 killed.

Security sources in some northern states told our correspondents that state governments had come to realise that policemen could not be deployed in all schools.

One of them stated, “The police do not have the manpower to man all schools. Many states are partnering hunters and vigilantes to provide security in schools.”

Findings showed that insecurity had  made parents to change schools for their children in Katsina State, following security measures put in place by the government.

Aminu Dayyabu who is a father of Faruq, one of the kidnapped students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, explained that he relocated the boy from the school to where he works in Bakori to ensure proximity to him.

He said, “I relocated Faruq from Government Science School, Kankara to another school located where I am working in Bakori.”

Another parent, Murjanatu Danja, said she relocated his son, Jamilu, to Zaria at the instance of his father.

She said, “My son, Jamilu, is in JSS2 but I have to relocate him since his father insisted so. The father is based in Zaria and I have no objection to his wish.”

The Kano State Government on its part said  the 26 secondary schools that were closed down in areas prone to security threat in the state would remain closed until further notice.

The Public Relations Officer of the state Ministry of Education, Aliyu Yusuf, who disclosed this in a telephone interview with The PUNCH in Kano on Saturday, said all the affected schools would remain shut until security situation improves in the areas.

Yusuf said students of all the affected schools had since been relocated to other schools considered to be safe for both students and teachers.

“For now, there are a total of 26 secondary Schools that have been closed by the state government due to insecurity and the affected schools will remain closed until the situation improves,” he said.

He disclosed that both private and public secondary schools in the state had resumed last week Sunday for boarding students while day students resumed on Monday after the vacation.

But the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said there was no anxiety in the state over school resumption.

He said the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had made efforts to ensure that the security agencies are equipped and strengthened to do their job.

He said, “There is no anxiety in Lagos over the return of our pupils to school. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has done a lot to strengthen the capacity of our security agencies to do their job.

“150 units of double cabin vehicles, 30 patrol saloon cars, four high-capacity troop carriers and two anti-riot water cannon vehicles were handed over in June.

“We have built security towers in some schools. Many have been fenced.  With these, we have no anxiety about our pupils and teachers. Lagos is safe for residents and visitors, with increased police patrols and more efforts at intelligence gathering through the Neighbourhood Watch.”

Also, the Cross River State Commissioner for Quality Education, Dr Godwin Amanke, said no case of abduction had been recorded in any of the schools in the state.

“Are there any such thing as abductions and killing of students in Cross River State?” he asked in answer to the question, and declined to speak further.

Our correspondent in the state reported that schools in the state are relatively safe, unlike schools in other parts of the country where abductions and killings are rampant.

Public schools in Katsina State will be resuming next Monday.

The state Commissioner for Education, Badamosi Lawan, confirmed the development to The PUNCH on Saturday.

He said arrangements concerning the schools reopening would be unveiled to relevant stakeholders later.

It was learnt that security arrangements for the schools were not different from what were on the ground before they went on vacation.

Government made the security arrangements shortly after 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara were abducted and later rescued in December,2020.

The security arrangements include perimeter fencing of all public schools in the state, establishment of security committee in each school and observation of special daily prayers on security in all the schools.

Currently, only Command Secondary School, Faskari; Government Command Secondary School, Musawa; Government Girls Command School, Barkiya and Police Secondary School, Mani are  still running boarding system.

The Chairman, Ekiti State Universal Basic Education Board, Prof Femi Akinwunmi, in an interview with one of our correspondents stated that the state government was taking proactive measures to ensure the state’s primary and secondary schools were safe.

Akinwunmi said, “What we are doing is to make sure that we construct perimeter fence in all the schools.

“As I speak, apart from the fences we did last year, we have done about 250 schools this year. That is our area of focus now,” he said.

The SUBEB chairman said plans had reached advanced stage to recruit security guards who will be ensuring security of the students and pupils while in school.

The spokesperson for the Federal Capital Territory Education Secretariat, Kabiru Musa, in a telephone interview on Saturday told one of our correspondents that the secretariat had collaborated with various security agencies to ensure the safety of students in the territory.

He stated, “We are not postponing our resumption date. It remains the same. All security threats have been taken into consideration.

“The secretariat is working hard with the various security agencies, community leaders, local hunters and vigilantes to safeguard our schools.”

More One million children won’t resume because of fear –NUT

But the General Secretary, Nigeria Union of Teachers, Dr Mike Ike-Ene, in an interview, said a research conducted by the union revealed that more than one million children would not be able to return to school due to fear, trauma and anxiety.

“The one million  (by UNICEF) is a far cry to what NUT has on record. When I read it, I was kind of disturbed as I didn’t know the angle the researcher was coming from because we have more than one million out-of-school children and those who will not resume. Not only children are scared, parents are equally scared,” Ike-Ene told one of our correspondents.

The National President of Parent- Teacher Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Danjuma Haruna, asked the governors of the northern states to provide security across schools in their states.

Specifically, Haruna called on the Kaduna State Government to, as a matter of urgency, provide security across the 23 local government areas of the state as it had announced the resumption of schools closed down following the resurgence of banditry occasioned by kidnapping of students in the state.

He also urged the northern governors to engage the services of police, hunters, vigilantes and other local security in the area to tackle the security challenges bedevilling the education sector in the region. – Punch.

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