By Chinelo Obogo, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Sola Ojo, Kaduna

No fewer than 2,371 persons were abducted between January and June with N10 billion demanded as ransom.

Report  by SBM Intelligence indicated that an average of 13 persons were abducted daily within the period across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The data was derived from media reports and the national security tracker of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Though the report did not state the amount paid for ransom, 284 where kidnapped in January, 605 in February, 534 in March, 316 in April, 355 in May and 277 in June.

The report showed that Niger recorded the highest incidents with 643 victims in 28 cases while 58 people were killed in abduction attempts. Zamfara State came second with 519 kidnap victims in seven incidents, leading to deaths of 22 while Kaduna had 360 victims in 26 incidents leading to deaths of 41.

The worst targets took place in the first half of 2021 and in schools where hundreds of students were taken hostage in the North-West.

Six persons were kidnapped in Abia State and 50 in Abuja.  Adamawa had three, Anambra 14, Bauchi, three, Bayelsa, Seven, Benue, six, Borno, one, Cross River, four, Delta 51, Ebonyi, five, Edo,18, Ekiti, 14, Enugu, 15, Gombe, one, Imo, 25, Jigawa, two, Kano, three, Katsina, 236, Kebbi, 81, Kogi, 31, Kwara, 10, Lagos, six, Nasarawa, 44, Ogun, 26, Ondo, 17, Osun, 23, Oyo 61, Plateau, 10, Rivers, 14, Sokoto, 10, Taraba, 46 and Yobe, four.

Niger was the hotbed as bandits on May 30 stormed Saliu Tanko Islamic school, Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area  and abducted 136 pupils. A teacher, Yakubu Idris, said the bandits demanded N150 million ransom “but nothing is forthcoming from the parents.”

In Zamfara,  279 female students were kidnapped from Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe village on Friday, February 26. But shortly afterwards, all the kidnapped girls were released. It was not certain if ransom was paid.

For Kaduna, the incidents of kidnapping has not ebbed.   On April 20, 28 students of Greenfield University, Kaduna were kidnapped. One person was killed during the raid while five were murdered afterwards. Fourteen students were initially released after parents paid the ransom demanded by the bandits, while the remaining 14 were released after 40 days in captivity. Parents of the students confirmed they had paid over N40 million as ransom.

The latest in the abduction cases is that of the Emir of Kajuru and 13 members of his household which came barely two weeks after the abduction of 121 students in Bethel Baptist Secondary school in Damishi, Chikun LGA of Kaduna State on July 5.

•Parents seek govt’s timely intervention

Parents of the abducted 121 male and female students of Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna, said they have lost sleep and their hearts bleed continuously a week after bandits whisked their children.

When Daily Sun visited the 31-year-old school spread on about 42 hectares, parents and well-wishers were holding prayers sessions seeking divine intervention for the safe return and reunion of their children.

Father to one of the abducted students, Nuhu Kasa, said if the authorities saddled with the responsibility of protection of lives and property had yielded to the distress call in good time, the bandits may have had a change of mind and freed the abductees.

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“My daughter marked her birthday here in the school the Saturday before her abduction. We expected to have her at home by this weekend only to hear that the school was attacked and many of our children abducted from their hostels. If the government had responded earlier in the morning, possibly, the kidnappers would have had a rethink and released our children before they were taken into the deep forest.

“I want to plead with those in authority saddled with the responsibility of protecting our children to come to our rescue in good time. These are national assets. The government should please come to our rescue. I am traumatised,” he lamented.

Another parent, Solomon Danladi, appealed to government to help ensure the release of the children.

“Our hearts are bleeding. The trust we have in this government to protect our children is dwindling. We see government as paying attention to other things than rescuing our children.

“We are aware of the protest in Sabo over the same kidnapping issue where scores of security agents were deployed to disperse the protesters. If the same energy was deployed early on that Monday, maybe, they would have rescued our children.

“We are pleading for help. Everyday, we hear kidnapping. We need a conducive environment as citizens of this country and the only way to do that is for the government to deliver on its security responsibility.”

•We’re taking measures to safeguard our schools, others –Gombe gov

Governor of Gombe State, Muhammad Yahaya, has assured that his administration was taking measures to secure schools as well as the entire state to forestall attacks by kidnappers and other criminal elements.

He said the peculiar location of the state makes it vulnerable but security agencies have been working hard and the cooperation of communities has been wonderful.

He stressed that collaboration with religious and community leaders including other stakeholders has helped in addressing security challenges in the state.

Yahaya made the disclosure on Monday, while speaking to State House Correspondents, after he met with the Chief of Staff to President, Ibrahim Gambari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

On cases of kidnapping of students in some states, Yahaya disclosed that after a vulnerability assessment, proactive measures have been taken to safeguard all schools in the State.

•Shehu Sani: FG more interested in going after secessionists than bandits

Former senator representing Kaduna central, Shehu Sani, has said the North-West would be a better place if the Federal Government could deal with bandits with the same vigour used against secessionists.

Speaking during a live television pogramme,  he claimed only two of the 23 councils in Kaduna are safe.

“I can say in comparative terms that there’s more interest for the government in going after secessionists than going after bandits. I’m not a supporter of secessionists and I believe that secession agitation are virtually wrong and we should work towards a united Nigeria.”