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22 Missing As Kidnappers Storm University In Northwest Nigeria

While parents of abducted students in Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, await the return of their children, terrorists on Tuesday struck again, taking hostage over a score students from a private university.

Twenty-two (22) students and staff members of Greenfield University, a private tertiary institution in Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, have been unaccounted for since terrorists attacked the campus on Tuesday night.

Greenfield University is the first private academic institution in the state, located along the Kaduna–Abuja highway in Chikun Local Government. It was established three years ago.

The abduction is the second attack on a tertiary institution in the state within two months.

On Thursday, March 11, suspected terrorists attacked the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Igabi Local Government Area of the state and abducted 39 students.

The abduction is the first major attack that terror groups have launched on communities around the Kaduna-Abuja highway since 300 female soldiers were deployed to the general area in January this year.

Samuel Aruwan, the State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, and the police command’s spokesperson, Mohammed Jalige, have both confirmed the report but said the specific number of students abducted was yet to be ascertained.

According to eyewitnesses, the attackers stormed the university Tuesday night shooting sporadically, before whisking away some of the students. They also said the inadequate security presence made the university of about 40 students susceptible to the attack as it is located in one of the epicentres of kidnapping.

HumAngle gathered that troops of Operation Thunder Strike responded to a distress call from the university. Twenty-two people, including 14 female students, six male students, and two female staff members, were missing as of the last count.

“Troops trailed the kidnappers and rescued three female students, 16 male students, and one adult male staff [member] who took refuge in the bushes,” a security source informed our correspondent, adding that one locally made pistol was recovered. 

The rescued students and university employee were moved to the Operation’s headquarters for medical attention, shelter, and investigation. 

Also, one school guard was killed in the incident.

The security agencies are currently engaged in a mission to search for and rescue the missing students and staff members.

Cases of abductions targeted at schools have been on the increase in Northwest Nigeria since late 2020. Between Feb. 15 and March 12, 1,097 people were kidnapped across Nigeria, with the fourth-highest number of incidents recorded in Kaduna, according to data from the Nigeria Security Tracker (NST). In 2020, only an average of 240 people were victims of kidnapping during the same one month period.

With the increase of assaults on schools and series of attacks by terror groups, the state government has made it clear that criminals and criminal activities will not be allowed to thrive in the state. 

Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State Governor has reiterated that his government would not pay ransom to the kidnappers despite pleas by the parents of the abducted students.

Of the 39 students abducted March 11, 10 have so far been released to reunite with their families. The fate of the remaining ones still hangs in the balance.

El-Rufai, however, believes the renewed attacks across the state were due to his government’s stance that it would not negotiate with bandits.

“We will not give them any money and they will not make any profit from Kaduna,” the governor said.

“Anyone that comes to Kaduna will not get a penny from the state government, except he will get a bullet instead,” he added when he spoke in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics on Sunday, April 4.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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