António Guterres, UN SEC. General
António Guterres

OBINNA EZUGWU

The United Nations (UN) has described the abduction of 317 schoolgirls from Jangebe in Zamfara State by suspected bandits, as a “heinous violation of human rights” and demanded that they must be released “immediately and unconditionally”.

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres who made the call via his Twitter handle on Friday, condemned continuing attacks on, and abduction of students in Nigeria.

“I am appalled by the abduction of more than 300 girls during an attack on a secondary school in Nigeria today,” he said.

“Attacks on schools are a heinous violation of human rights. The girls must be released to their families immediately and unconditionally.”

Armed bandits had in the early hours of Friday, invaded Government Girls’ Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State, abducting 317 students.

The abduction came barely one week after 27 students, three parents and nine staff of Government Science College, Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, were abducted by the bandits. One student who tried to escape during the abduction was shot dead by the bandits, while those abducted remain in captivity.

Bandits had also few weeks ago, abducted over 300 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State, in what is becoming a dangerous new trend.

Aside from Kankara and Kagara, non-state actors, Boko Haram terrorists, had also abducted hundreds of secondary school girls from Chibok, in Borno State in 2014 and Dapchi in Yobe State in 2018.

Tens of the Chibok school girls remain with the terrorist group, which Leah Sharibu, the only one of the Dapchi school girls who held by the group for refusing to renounce her Christian faith, is still held three years after.

On Friday, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, who facing growing criticism over his administration’s failure to tackle the menace, said the security forces have not moved against bandits in the country because of the fear of “heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages” that might be suffered in such operations.

He warned the bandits not to mistake his regime’s restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness, adding that no group was too strong to be defeated by government.