Parents of Kaduna kidnapped school pupils cry out: ‘We can’t sleep’


From Noah Ebije and Sola Ojo, Kaduna


• One of the schools


Parents and guardians of the 287 students and some staff abducted by bandits from LEA Primary School and Government Secondary School, Kuriga, Chikun Local Government, Kaduna State, are overwhelmed with sadness. They are in excruciating pains.

The victims were abducted on Thursday, March 7, 2024, when the rampaging bandits stormed the two schools in early hours of the morning when the pupils were heading to their classrooms after the normal assembly rituals.

• Birukila of UNICEF presenting gadget to Governor Sani


The parents are sad that thier children are in the bandits’ den in the forest for more than two weeks. Perhaps, going through unhealthy conditions, hunger and at the risk of being bitten by dangerous reptiles.

More disturbing, Daily Sun learnt, was the N1billion ransom demanded by the abductors as a condition to releasing the abductees, or else they will be killed within 20 days, effective from the very day they were abducted. From their calculation, the abducted victims may be killed on March 26, 2024, if the said ransom is not paid on or before then.

One of the parents, Amina Kuriga, lamented: “Now it has become a sad story. From where can we raise N1 billion for the Kidnappers. We are indeed after the safety of our children, let them return home unhurt before we begin to talk about their education again. Whether they will return to school or not, it is not the issue for now, because all we want is their safety.

“We want them to be released sooner than later without being hurt. So we are appealing to relevant authorities to come to the aid of our children. We cannot sleep since they were abducted. We are dying in silence.

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“My daughter was ill. She only managed to eat her breakfast and went to school that day. Now she’s in the bush with bandits.”

A resident of the community, Aminu Kuriga: “The primary school is the only thing we can boast of having from government. But our concern for now is for government to ensure that our children are returned to us unhurt.”

Such is the dilemma the community, particularly the affected parents have found themselves despite the steps taken by the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) Kaduna State chapter to return the children to schools via Classrooms on Radio.

UNICEF, an agency of the United Nations, is responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aids to children worldwide. When its officials visited Governor Uba Sani, leader of the delegation, Dr. Gerida Birukila, said: “We are ready to support the state government in which ever way necessary. We will like to present to you an education gadget, a radio for children’s curriculum through teaching on radio.”

Sani expressed appreciation: “UNICEF has been very supportive of Kaduna State Government long before now. I urge you to continue to support us as your partners in progress. We will ensure that the kidnapped school children return.”

State Education Officer, UNICEF, Mr. Bala Dada, said: “The gadget is a radio. What we do is that we preload lessons, Nigerian curriculum in both Hausa and English. So the benefit depends on the major language. If we preload it,  we print Nigerian curriculum on it and put it on flash drive to be played in a cluster either or small classroom.

“It also depends on the situation. In this kind of situation in Kuriga, this can be done in homes and compounds so that they students don’t have to go back to school because of the situation which we all know it.

“A teacher will guide the children, leads them through the curriculum. Anywhere there is need for explanation he will forward it and explain to them, just like it’s done in the classroom. So what it means is that students are going to study on their own within the small community and homes.

“It is solar powered, so there is no need for battery. It is good for a situation like this. It is good for Nigerian situation like Nomadic school and where there had been cases like in Kuriga.”

However, Governor Sani assured parents that their children would soon return home unhurt. He promised to establish a police station and build a permanent military camp in the community.

He told community members: “Before coming here, I spoke with the National  Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. We are making efforts, the security forces have swung into action and by God’s grace, we will rescue the children.

“We will do whatever we need to do to ensure safe return of these children, even if it means coming to Kuriga to stay with you. The essence of government is protection of citizens’ lives and properties. By God’s grace, we will protect the citizens’ rights.

“We have realised that, there are not enough boots on ground. That is why we feel that, if state police, every community like Kuriga will have people in the police. They will be armed with AK47 rifles. That is the only way we would be able to protect the lives and properties of the citizens.

“The vigilantes are not as armed as the bandits. They do have AK47, that is why the bandits are constantly causing us destructions. They come in to humiliate, kill and abduct our citizens.

“We are going to select seven people from this community. They will be part of a committee, where we would be having discussions.”