27 Nigerian Schoolboys Released by Kidnappers, 317 Schoolgirls Still Missing

On Saturday, February 27, 2021, a group of gunmen in Nigerian released 27 teenage schoolboys that they had abducted the week prior from Government Science secondary school in Kagara District, Niger State, Nigeria. During the initial incident on February 17th, a group of armed individuals ambushed the school and kidnapped 27 students, as well as three staff members and 12 family members of either the students or staff.

Though the details regarding their week-long captivity are unclear, a Reuters staff individual saw the group of boys walking through a village and being protected by armed security guards; some of the teenage boys were reportedly weak, experiencing difficulty standing and walking, and even repeatedly asking for water. The boys are aged between 15 and 18 years old.

Just a day prior, on Friday, February 26, 2021, a group of gunmen conducted an overnight abduction of 317 Nigerian schoolgirls from the Government Girls’ Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State. Whether the kidnapping could have been prevented, however, is up for debate. School officials and even local security authorities were reportedly warned of danger in the nearby area; moreover, residents of the town reported that they had witnessed a group of unidentified, ‘strange’ individuals lurking around school premises and even intimidating local civilians prior to the abduction.

“As soon as we reported them [for their suspicious behavior], they disappeared from the area. We then told police officials to beef up security around the school area but that wasn’t done.”

“People were complaining that their homes were being raided at night by gunmen and that their children are constantly being harassed by these hoodlums, so some parents asked that the school closed the boarding house just in case these criminals decide to one day visit the school. Unfortunately, someone in the school said that the authorities couldn’t close dormitories on their own, claiming they needed to get approval from the state education ministry before doing so.”

Now, the consequences of the inaction on the part of Nigerian security forces is tremendous. 317 schoolgirls missing, and their families in utter devastation as they wait for any news regarding their daughters’ and sisters’ condition. Local Zamfara State Pope Francis convened a meeting, stating “I am near to their families and to them. Let us pray that Our Lady might keep them safe.”

Cover image by Global Partnership for Education on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)