Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has waved aside the rising waves of schoolchildren abduction under President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.
“Even in the most developed countries in the world, school kidnappings take place,” Mr. Mohammed said in an interview on Channels Television.
Media reports and anecdotes showed Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, had witnessed more kidnaps, especially of students under Mr. Buhari’s regime, than at any other time.
Mr. Buhari, a former military leader who overthrew a democratically-elected government in 1983, had claimed during his campaign seeking to be Nigeria’s president that he had become a democrat.
However, his critics have described him as dour, aloof, nepotistic, and dictatorial. He, his party (the All Progressives Congress), and sympathisers have repeatedly denied the allegations.
He rose to power in 2015 on the wave of ability to tackle insecurity and corruption in the country successfully. To date, his regime has become characterised by the same problems.
Mr. Mohammed, the federal government’s propaganda minister, explained that the approach of terrorists deviates from standard rules of engagement, and they were interested in soft targets like kidnapping schoolchildren to garner global attention.
The minister’s comments came after bandits abducted several schoolboys, officials, and visitors at the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger.
Last week, passengers of a 56-seater bus of the Niger State Transport Authority were intercepted by bandits and whisked away. They were freed one week later after several “negotiations,” the government claimed.
Last December, the Jihadist group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the abduction of 340 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina. The boys were later released after negotiations and paying of a ransom.
In 2018, about 100 schoolgirls between 11 and 19 were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe. Five of them died while being abducted. Others gained their freedom in March 2018, except Leah Sharibu, a Christian schoolgirl who refused to renounce her faith.
Miss Sharibu is the only Dapchi schoolgirl still held hostage by Boko Haram.
In 2014, during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s tenure, about 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their hostels.
At least 100 of the girls have yet to be unaccounted for, while others were released.
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