By Dennis Agbo
The United Nations Children’s Fund has expressed delight at the news of the release of the 27 students of Government Science College in Kagara, Niger state, but said that it would be more exciting if the abducted students of Girls’ Secondary School Jangebe in Zamfara State are released faster and safer.
In a statement on Saturday, Unicef Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins said that children do not deserve such violent attacks, at least not in their schools where they should feel safer.
Hawkins said: “I am relieved to receive the long-awaited news of the release of 27 students of the Government Science College in Kagara abducted from their school over a week ago and I look forward to their safe return to their families.
“As the freed students return to their families, I commiserate with the family of their fallen school mate, Benjamin Habila, who was shot dead during the overnight attack on the school. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Benjamin, who has suffered a huge loss.
“The Kagara school attack – like that of Government Girls’ Secondary School Jangebe in Zamfara State Friday, and others before it shouldn’t have happened in the first place because children shouldn’t be the target of attacks, least of all in a place they ought to feel safe – a school.
“Attacks on educational facilities are a grave violation of children’s rights. Children should never be the target of the attack, and yet, far too often in Nigeria, they are precisely that, victims of attacks on their schools.
“Such attacks not only negate the right of children to an education, but they also make children fearful of going to school, and parents afraid to send their children to school. Schools must be safe places to study and develop, and learning should not become a perilous endeavour.”
“As we welcome the news of the release of the abducted Kagara students, I urge the government to expedite action on the release and safe return of the kidnapped students of Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe, and all abducted school children yet to be released.”