2021 Terrorists’ Invasions Of Schools In Northern Nigeria

Many students and staff of secondary and tertiary institutions in Northern Nigeria were kidnapped in 2021. Some were killed during the invasions, many regained their freedom, while others are still in captivity.

In 2021, terrorists went on rampage in Northern Nigeria; from North-central to Northwest, attacking schools, kidnapping students, and staff of those schools. 

These attacks happened across Islamic schools popularly known as Islamiyah in Northern Nigeria, and in public and private schools including tertiary institutions. 

HumAngle’s analysis revealed that over 300 people were abducted in major school abductions between February and July 2021. 

While some abducted people were killed, many regained their freedom after spending months in captivity. Meanwhile, few others are still in captivity.  

The first of the major incidents was recorded early morning on Feb. 17, 2021 when terrorists launched an attack on Government Science College in Kagara, Niger State,North-central Nigeria, killing a pupil, Benjamin Habilah, and abducting 27 others.

During the attack, three members of the school’s staff and 12 of their relatives were also abducted. Seven days later, there were reports that the kidnappers were negotiating with the parents of the abducted students for ransom.

On Feb. 27, 2021, Niger State Government announced that all the 42 people abducted from the Kagara school had been released by the terrorists. 

Less than one month after the Kagara school attack, the terrorists bared their fangs again, and this time around, they attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in the Northwest region of the country. 

In what later gained public attention as #AfakaAbduction, the terrorists abducted 39 students on Thursday, March 11, 2021 after they successfully invaded the school through a fence and went straight to the school hostel for their operation. 

Samuel Aruwan, Kaduna’s State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, said then that 23 female and 16 male students were abducted. 

While five of the students were released on April 5, 2021, another five regained their freedom on April 8, 2021. After spending 55 days in captivity, the remaining 29 students were released by their abductors on May 5, 2021.

Kaduna again and again

On Tuesday, Apr. 20, 2021, terrorists attacked Greenfield University, a private tertiary institution in the same state. They kidnapped 22 people including 14 female students, six male students, and two female staff members during their raids on the university campus. 

Greenfield University, established four years ago, is located along the Kaduna–Abuja highway in Chikun Local Government. 

While many Nigerians were praying for the safe return of the students, three dead bodies were found in Kwanan Bature village, a location close to the University on April 23, 2021 and and two more were found on April 26, 2021. The bodies were identified as some of the abducted students. 

A student was released by the terrorists on May 1, 2021, following payment of an undisclosed amount as ransom by his parents. The remaining 14 students were, however, freed on May 29  2021, after 40 days in captivity. 

The parents reportedly said they paid a total of N180 million as ransom to the terrorists to secure their children’s release.

Two months later, another attack was launched. This time, it was Bethel Baptist High School, Maraban Damishi, Kujama in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna.

Terrorists in the early hours of July 5, 2021, abducted 121 students of the school. Media reports said the terrorists invaded the school around 2:00 a.m. shooting sporadically into the air before abducting the students.

Some of the students have since been regaining freedom in batches. John Hayab, Chairman of the Kaduna chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed on Jan. 2, 2022 that 120 abducted students have been freed so far.

“The number of the released students includes one student, who was freed on Dec. 28, 2021 and another one who was freed on January 1,” Hayab said. “With the release of these two students, a total of 120 students have regained their freedom so far and only one student is still with the bandits.”

That’s not all

Many students and staff of the Government College (FGC), Yauri in Kebbi State, Northwest Nigeria were kidnapped on June 17, 2021. 

The terrorists, who came on motorcycles, reportedly entered the town from the neighbouring Rijau forest in Niger State.

By Jun. 19, 2021, the principal of the school, Almustapha Sokoto, told the Emir of Yawuri, Zayyanu Abdullahi, who paid a visit to the school that over 100 people were abducted.

Some of the victims were released on Oct. 12, 2021 by their abductors after spending over 100 days in captivity.

In a recent development, Yahaya Sarki, an aide to Atiku Bagudu, Governor of Kebbi State said in a statement that 30 more students and a teacher have regained their freedom on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. 


A report published by HumAngle on Nov. 17, 2021 revealed how the emergence of terror gangs has been making schools less conducive for learning and parents being unable to afford the cost of educating their children in northern Nigeria. 

The attacks have led to the shutdown of many boarding schools in several states in Northwest and North-central Nigeria. 

An SBM Intelligence report revealed that no fewer than 1,409 students and 17 teachers were kidnapped from schools in the region between March 2020 and Sept. 2021. 

In addition, a total of ₦220 million was paid to terror gangs to secure releases in a space of one year. Sadly, 16 of the victims died. 

Already, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The terrorised northern regions, however, have the worst out-of-school children rates in the country.

As the country continues to witness a high rate of insecurity, so is the rising ‘drop-out’ rate in northern Nigeria.

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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