Nigeria to host International Conference on Safe Schools Declaration; 75 abducted Zamfara students regain freedom; CAN accuses FG of abandoning 31 abducted Baptist students

Nigeria will host the International Conference with participants from all over the world on Safe Schools Declaration, SSD between 25th to 27th October, 2021.

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, while receiving a delegation of the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Knut Eiliv Lein, the UNICEF Country Representative, Peter Hawkins; among others, said This follows the resolve to make schools safer and more conducive for teaching and learning, Nigeria and the International Community have presented a united front in the fight against incessant attacks on education institutions, globally.

The delegation visited was to follow up on the preparations being made to host the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools Declaration, SSD.

Echono revealed that adequate plans are underway to successful host the event despite COVID 19 challenges.

In his remarks, the Norwegian Ambassador who commended the arrangements being put in place by Nigeria stated that his country is standing by to lend support towards the success of the Conference.

He added that as a co-host, Norway is concerned about the welfare of foreign participants, (Covid -19 protocols), security measures being put in place, as well as the venue.

The Ambassador who commended Nigeria, being the first African country to host the conference, enjoined the Permanent Secretary to inform Norway on areas it needs assistance.

The UNICEF country representative, Peter Hawkins identified security as the major concern of his organization.

The Conference will focus on the best measures and strategies to make teaching and learning environments more conducive and safer.

Meanwhile the abducted students and teachers of the Government Secondary School, Kaya, in Maradun Local Government Area of Zamfara State have been released.

Governor Bello Mohammed of Zamfara State who received the abductees at the Government House in Gusau, the state capital, confirmed that all the 75 students and three teachers who were with the abductors have been released unhurt.

On Friday, August 27, 2021, when the bandits invaded Kaya Government Day Secondary School, they abducted 55 female, 25 male students, and 3 teachers of the school in broad daylight.

Five of the female students were rescued on 2nd September by the police.

The abduction of the students and teachers from the said school compelled the Zamfara State Government to take some drastic new security measures, to deal ruthlessly with the bandits in the state.

They included the closure of both primary and secondary schools, the shutdown of telecom services, major markets, a ban on the sale of petrol in jerry cans, restriction of motorcycle and tricycle operations.

Governor Bello Mohammed of Zamfara State, while receiving the abductees, vowed that his administration would decisively deal with the bandits.

The Governor explained that the state government, in collaboration with the security agencies, is restrategizing towards securing the lives and property of the citizens.

Governor Mohammed assured the residents of Zamfara State of his administration’s commitment to protecting them from criminals, which is one of the primary purposes given to him in their mandate.

The Commissioner of Police in Zamfara State, Ayuba Elkana said, the repentant bandits led the rescue team to the camp of the bandits who abducted the students and teachers of the Government Day Secondary School, Kaya, where they secured the release of the abductees.

The Chairman of Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, has accused the government for allegedly abandoning the remaining 31 abducted students of the Baptist High School, Damishi, Kaduna.

In a statement on Sunday, Hayab said the silence of government over the 31 students still being held in captivity by bandits was condemnable.

On July 5, 2021, bandits invaded the school located about six kilometres away from theKaduna metropolis and abducted 121 students.

Some of the students were released by the bandits in batches while others escaped from captivity.

So far, a total of 90 of the students had been released after a ransom, totalling over N200m was reportedly paid to the bandits by the parents.

Hayap said when schools were closed down by the Kaduna State government to pave the way for military operations against the criminals, hopes were high that the students would be rescued.

He noted that the state government had announced that schools should resume on Monday without bringing back the students, who have been in captivity for 67 days.

Hayab said, “The silence about the 31 Baptist High School children still in the hands of their captors is bad and condemnable. These children were taken away from their school on 5th July 2021. It is 67 days today and our leaders are silent as if all is well when truly all is not well.

“How can it be well when parents of these 31 children have not known sleep for these 67 days? Any caring leader will also not sleep. These children should be released or rescued without delay.

“Kaduna State government closed down schools for over a month, claiming that the military will go after bandits and have again asked all schools to reopen without bringing back our children.

“What happened with the military exercise that led to the closure of schools? Was it just another drama to divert the attention of parents and those sympathising with the parents from the real situation?”

He, however, said, “The church in Kaduna state will never keep quiet till all our children and everyone in captivity is released and return home”.

CAN has also provided a facility at its secretariat in Kaduna to be used as temporary classrooms for the students of Baptist High School to enable them continue with their studies pending when the management of the school put up a security architecture to protect the school.

Efforts to get the reaction of the commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, was unsuccessful as he did not respond to a text message sent to his mobile phone.

 

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