Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned Friday evening the new “inhumane” abduction by gunmen of more than 300 teenage girls from a boarding school in the north-western region of the country.
He affirmed that the administration would not “give in to blackmail from bandits” who are waiting for “the payment of large ransoms” — as the government has the capacity to deploy a massive force against them in the villages where they operate.
The Head of State also added that the only hindrance is the fear of heavy losses of innocent villagers and hostages who could be used as human shields by the bandits.
It is Nigeria’s third school attack in less than three months — a series that has revived traumatic memories of the “Chibok girls” kidnapped by jihadists nearly seven years ago.
Background and Context
Heavily-armed gangs known locally as “bandits” have stepped up attacks in northwest and central Nigeria in recent years, kidnapping for ransom, raping and pillaging.
On December 11 last year, more than 300 boys were kidnapped from a school in Kankara, in President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, while he was visiting the region. The boys were later released.
On February 16, 42 people — including 27 boys, were taken from a school by a similar gang in nearby Niger state, and are yet to be freed.
These incidents have triggered outrage as well as painful memories of the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls by jihadist group Boko Haram in Chibok, in northeastern Borno state, on April 14 2015.
In February 2018 the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), an offshoot of Boko Haram, snatched 111 girls from their boarding school in Dapchi, around 300 kilometres (186 miles) from Chibok.
The jihadists returned more than 100 girls to the town after talks with the government.