By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

Save the Children said it is “horrified” by the news that armed attackers have abducted 80 students and killed a police officer at a college in Kebbi State, Nigeria.

Save the Children’s Nigeria Country Director Mercy Gichuhi, stated this in a statement issued on Friday.

“Save the Children is horrified by reports that 80 students have been abducted from their college in Kebbi State. Their safety and well-being remain our primary concern, and our hearts go out to them and their families. We call for their immediate and unconditional release and a safe return to their families.”

“Places of learning should never be targets, and children should never be abducted. This is a grave violation of children’s rights, and Save the Children is deeply concerned about the protection of children in the places that should be safest for them.

“Just this week, children marked Day of the African Child by calling on leaders to ensure their education and allow them to return to school safely, free from attacks. Even before COVID-19, many children across Nigeria and the continent were shut out of school due to violence. This attack is a grave reminder of how real this threat is.

“This is the third assault by armed gangs on a school or college in Nigeria in less than a month, reportedly by bandits seeking ransom payments. Recurring attacks on schools in northern Nigeria is a grave violation of child rights. When will children stop being used as pawns in games played by adults?”

It said in October this year, Nigeria will host the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools and it is one of the first African countries to have endorsed the Safe School Declaration, says Mercy Gichuhi.

“Armed conflict has been interrupting children’s education – a human right – in Nigeria for nearly a decade. Save the Children condemns the recurring killings of teachers, attacks on schools, and the kidnappings of school children. Save the Children is concerned that the already existing education inequalities in the country will be worsened if similar attacks will not be stopped immediately.”

“Now more than ever, we urge the Nigerian government to ensure that children have access to safe, quality and uninterrupted education at all levels. All children have the right to attend school free from violence and fear.”

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