April 16, 2024

Chibok: 1,680 more Nigerian school children abducted in 10 years — UNICEF

US lawmakers pass resolution on Chibok girls, Boko Haram

Chibok girls

•Says only 37% of schools across 10 states have early warning systems

•Set up special task force to rescue remaining 90 Chibok schoolgirls, Clark tells Tinubu

•Says it’s a shame FG can’t bring back the abducted girls 10 years after

•Notes how politicians, Boko Haram members in Jonathan’s govt frustrated efforts to free girls

By Henry Umoru & John Alechenu

A report released by the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, yesterday revealed that attacks and abductions of Nigerian schoolchildren have been on the rise since the kidnapping of 276 school girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, in the North East, 10 years ago.

This came on a day former Federal Commissioner for Information and South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, asked President Bola Tinubu to urgently set up a special task force whose members would travel to Sambisa forest to search for the abducted Chibok  girls, Leah Sharibu and others held in Boko Haram captivity.

UNICEF noted with regret that only 37 per cent of schools across 10 states of the federation so far had early warning systems in place to identify threats of such attacks in schools.

Presenting the report, titled “Minimum Standards for Safe Schools, MSSS, Monitoring Report,” at the United Nations House, Abuja, UNICEF Nigeria’s Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, noted that the journey toward ensuring every Nigerian child could learn in a safe environment was far from over.

The report read:  “In the last 10 years, conflict-related violence has led to more than 1,680 children abducted while at school and elsewhere; 180 children killed due to attacks on schools; an estimated 60 school staff kidnapped and 14 killed; and more than 70 attacks on schools, according to verified reports by the United Nations.”

It also observed that 90 of the abducted school girls were still in captivity, while the country was still recovering from another abduction of schoolchildren in Kaduna State in March of this year.

Drawing from the findings of the report, UNICEF recommended that authorities at all levels should intensify efforts to protect the country’s most vulnerable population, its children.

Also speaking at the event organised to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Chibok abductions, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Cristian Munduate, said:  “The kidnapping of the Chibok girls was a wake-up call to the severe risks our children face in their pursuit of education,

“Today, reflecting on this tragedy and other recent abductions, it is evident that our efforts to safeguard our children’s futures must be amplified.

”Given these alarming statistics, we must address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of this crisis.

”Education is a fundamental right and a crucial pathway out of poverty. Yet, for too many Nigerian children, it remains an unattainable dream.”

The monitoring report analyzed six result areas, namely strong school system, violence against children, natural hazards, conflict, everyday hazards, and safe school infrastructure – and uncovered significant disparities.

It found that in the implementation of safe school standards across Nigerian states. Borno State, with a 70 per cent fulfilment of the standards, exemplified a strong commitment to child safety amid adversity.

Yobe State also demonstrated promising progress.

In contrast, Kaduna and Sokoto states lag significantly, with fulfilment rates at just 25 per cent and 26 per cent respectively.

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In addition to the finding on early warning systems and conflict, the report revealed that “while schools perform relatively well in terms of training school-based management committees on safety and responding to children’s well-being concerns, only 14 per cent of the participating schools across the 10 assessed states have functioning, safe, accessible infrastructure and just 36 per cent have school staff trained on natural hazards.”

These analysis came to light on the heels of disturbing reports of violence affecting schools, with brazen abductions of students on the rise.

It also noted:  “The threat of abduction of students is severely affecting children’s learning.

”As of 2021, over one million children were afraid to return to school, and in 2020, around 11,500 schools were closed due to attacks, according to Policy Weekly by Nextier.”

Set up special task force to rescue remaining 90 Chibok schoolgirls, Clark tells Tinubu

Meanwhile, Chief Edwin Clark has called on President Tinubu to set up a special task force to resume the search for the remaining Chibok schoolgirls and students still being held captive by Boko Haram.

According to him, the President should appoint a special taskforce with brave soldiers, competent, transparent and not those who are nepotic.

Addressing journalists at his Asokoro residence on the 10th anniversary of the Chibok girls abduction, Clark, who is also leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, described as very shameful that ten years after, the government had failed to rescue the girls.

He also said the most unfortunate aspect of it all was the fact that President Tinubu never mentioned the Chibok girls matter in his inaugural speech.

He said:  “I was also disappointed that President Bola Tinubu in his inaugural speech did not mention anything about the Chibok girls and, in fact, he has not done anything to set up a special taskforce, whose duty is mainly to search for the Chibok girls and rescue them.

”Some of us have played our part in the rescue of the Chibok girls; it is a national tragedy which must not be ignored.

“Nigerians, particularly those in power, should hide themselves in shame that there was no serious attempt to free the Chibok girls right from the time they were abducted.

”Boko Haram which abducted the girls, did not initially come for these girls in Chibok; they came to do their own shopping when they saw these girls gathered in their hostels.

“The vehicles Boko Haram brought was not enough to carry over 200 girls, they had to take extra vehicles from a garage and even then, it was very difficult for them to move fast after the abduction; that was responsible for about 57 of the girls jumping out of the vehicles and freeing themselves.

“In Nigeria, we are still talking about 90 girls still missing, ten years after. I, therefore, call on President Bola Tinubu to set-up a powerful taskforce made up of dedicated, loyal and transparent security men to go into the Sambisa forest in Borno, Yobe state and or where ever these are citizens are, to look for these girls and rescue them.

”In giving this advice, I also want to add that a time limit should be given to them to carry-out this task.

“Their main duty is to travel at all times to Sambisa forest or where ever these citizens are, to look for these girls and rescue them.”