Northern Nigerian Breaking News

From Chibok To Birnin Yauri: A nation on its knees-Prof Usman Yusuf


By Usman Yusuf

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” – Nelson Mandela

As we celebrated Eid this week with our loved ones, I call on Nigerians of all faiths not to forget the hundreds of our children still held captive by murderous bandits and Boko Haram terrorists in forests all across northern Nigeria.

These children are left in the open, sleeping on the grass, exposed to the rain, sunshine and insects feasting on them. They are starved and drink polluted water making them sick with diarrhoea, dehydration and weight loss. Many, especially the little ones are said to be gravely ill from malaria, injuries and exhaustion from long treks in the forest. Reports of sexual abuse by these drug-crazed criminals is commonplace.

Chibok, Buni Yadi, Dapchi, Kankara, Jangebe, Kagara, Tegina, Afaka, Greenfield, Zaria, Bethel Baptist High and Birnin Yauri.

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The names of these towns and schools will forever live in our history as places where the nation and its leadership have failed our children.

Though school abductions make more headlines, they account for just a small percentage of the total number of our children abducted in rural areas all across northern Nigeria by bandits and Boko Haram terrorists

Over a period of six months (Dec. 2020 – June 2021), one thousand one hundred and nine (1,109) students have been abducted with eight (8) fatalities from eight (8) schools in the four (4) northern states of Katsina, Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara. Over six hundred and thirty-eight (638) schools have been closed in six (6) northern states over the same period as a precaution.

Read Also:JUST IN: 28 kidnapped students of Kaduna Baptist school released

The failure of both state and federal governments to protect our children in schools seven years after the Chibok tragedy shows that no lessons have been learned. The government’s only response to insurgents and gunmen targeting school children is to close schools, thereby increasingly putting the right to education at risk in a region already educationally disadvantaged.


{1}. Birnin Yauri Fed. Govt. College: Kebbi

On July 5, 2021, bandits rode into Birnin Yauri on hundreds of motorcycles and abducted 120 children from the Federal Govt. College and carted them into the forest like cattle. A few days later the notorious bandit Dogo Gide released a video of the children with some of their abductors claiming to be a member of ISIS. Over one hundred of these children are still held in captivity.

{2}. Bethel Baptist High School: Kaduna

On July 5, 2021, at about 2 am, armed bandits, breached the walls of Bethel Baptist High School on the outskirts of Kaduna and abducted one hundred and twenty-one (121) students from their hostel, some were as young as 10 years old. Twenty-eight (28) were released on 25-7-2021 leaving eighty-seven (87) still in captivity.

{3}. Nuhu Bamalli Poly. Zaria: Kaduna

On June 10, 2021, bandits attacked the polytechnic at night, killed a student, injured one and abducted seven (7) students and two (2) lecturers. They were released after 28 days in captivity.

{4}. Greenfield University: Kaduna

On 20 April 2021, armed bandits attacked Greenfield University in Kasarami village, Chikun LGA, Kaduna State, kidnapping 23 students and 2 staff. Five of these students were murdered in cold blood by the bandits. The last remaining 14 students were released on 29th May 2021 after the parents said they paid N185m ransom.

{5}. Afaka students kidnapping: Kaduna

On 11 March 2021, armed Gunmen breached the perimeter wall of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi LGA, in Kaduna State and kidnapped 39 students. They were released 56 days later after the involvement of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. No ransom was paid.

{6}. Jangebe girl’s school: Zamfara

On 26 February 2021, two hundred and seventy-nine (279) female students aged between 10 and 17 were abducted by armed bandits from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State. All the girls were released after five days.

{7}. Tegina Islamic school: Niger

On 30 May 2021, armed bandits invaded Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area, shot one person dead, left one seriously injured and kidnapped one hundred and fifteen (115) Islamiyya students. The bandits released eleven (11) of the children because they were too small and couldn’t endure the long trek to their forest hideout. The age range of these children was 4-15 (predominantly 4-6-year-olds) and 80% were female. One hundred and ten (110) children are still in captivity two months after abduction. There are unconfirmed reports of deaths of some of these children in captivity.

{8}. Kagara boy’s school: Niger

On 17 February 2021, armed bandits killed one pupil and abducted twenty-seven (27) others from their boarding school in Kagara, Niger State. Three members of the school’s staff and 12 of their relatives were also abducted. All were released after 10 days in captivity.

{9}. Kankara boy’s school: Katsina

On 11 December 2020, three hundred and forty-four (344) pupils were kidnapped from a boys’ secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State by a gang of bandits on motorcycles. All were freed six days later in the forest of Zamfara State.

{10}. Dapchi girl’s school: Yobe

On February 19, 2018, one hundred and ten (110) schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College Dapchi. Five (5) of the girls died on the same day of their kidnapping, all others were released on March 2018 except Leah Sharibu who refused to renounce her Christian faith and convert to Islam.

{11}. Buni Yadi boys massacre: Yobe

On February 25, 2014, fifty-nine (59) boys were massacred at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi in Yobe State by Boko Haram terrorists.

{12}. Chibok girl’s school: Borno

On the night of 14–15 April 2014, two hundred and seventy-six (276) female students were kidnapped by Boko Haram from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State. Fifty-seven (57) of them escaped by jumping from the trucks on which they were being transported, others have been rescued by the Nigerian Armed Forces on various occasions. Six of the girls are believed to be dead. As of 14th April 2021, seven years after the kidnapping, one hundred and thirteen (113) are still unaccounted for.

KADUNA STATE: Has now become the epicentre of school abductions and killing fields for bandits. It also has the unenviable record of the most school abductions; 4 schools in 4 months (March-July 2021), five abducted students killed in cold blood by bandits and a Governor that has shown in his words and deeds that he does not care.

NIGER STATE: The state has seen two school abductions: 47 secondary students in Kagara in February 2021 and 115 Islamic school students on 30th May 2021. The Governor visited the community wearing a Boy Scout hat chanting war songs with hunters and vigilantes. Nothing more from the government since then. The parents are left on their own to raise funds to pay ransom to the bandits to free their children.

KEBBI STATE: The state Governor appeared flanked by two of his colleagues addressing his people and promising to lead a team of vigilantes into the forest to rescue the children to loud applause from the people. Of course you know that was just talk from a politician. Over one hundred children are still in captivity and the parents are left to negotiate with and sell all their meagre possessions to pay ransom to the bandits.

It was heartbreaking to listen to the phone conversation between one of the abducted boys and his mother. She asked how he was holding up and whether he had called his father. One could tell that he just didn’t want to get her worried, he said he didn’t call his father because he was worried about him. When she told him to stay strong and that she was going to meet with the Governor, the son literally told her not to bother because the Governor would not fulfil any promise, he made to her.

ISLAMIC CLERICS:  were pivotal in campaigning for President Muhammadu Buhari. President Goodluck Jonathan was castigated (rightly too) for not doing enough to stop the bloodshed in the North East.

Today, I go to the mosques and don’t hear such sermons when hundreds of our children and thousands of our rural folks are in captivity in forests all across the region. Some Clerics even try to give a scriptural basis for their silence or make excuses for the government’s failures.

To: The Federal Government:

{1}.  I do not see any urgency given to the national tragedy of abductions of our children or to the protection and safety of our schools.

{2}. The states are incapable or unwilling to secure our schools

{3}. Insecurity is endangering education in the North

{4}. Illiteracy, out of school children and poverty are fuels for insecurity

{5}. There is too much attention given to party politics and scramble for office in 2023

{6}. Things are not working and there isn’t much time left

{7}. Now is the time to think about what legacy to leave

Yusuf is a Professor of Haematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

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