ABUJA, Nigeria – Days before gunmen stormed a secondary school in Zamfara state in northwestern Nigeria and kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls, school authorities and local security agencies were warned of a looming danger in the city, particularly in the area where the school is located, according to residents. Local.
On Friday, heavily armed gunmen kidnapped at least 315 girls who were staying at the Government Girls’ Secondary School in the town of Gangibi. The gunmen arrived on motorbikes around 1:30 a.m. local time and walked the kidnapped girls into the nearby woods, leaving family members of the victims distraught and anxious. Residents said that “strange men” were patrolling the school area and intimidating community members in the vicinity of the school days before the kidnappings occurred.
Suddenly we saw strange men in the street [leading to the Government Girls’ Secondary School] “At night, they act as if there are guards,” Danlami Omar, who lives near the school, told The Daily Beast. “They would stop pedestrians and ask them where they were going.”
The men had been occupying the neighborhood surrounding the school for two days prior to the accident, harassing passers-by and urging residents to alert police officials to their activities.
“As soon as we informed them, they disappeared from the area,” Omar said. Then we asked police officials to reinforce security around the school area, but this did not happen. “
But those living near the school were not the only ones to express their concern about the security situation in the area. The Daily Beast has learned that some family members have asked school authorities to close the boarding house and allow girls to attend classes as day students due to mounting reports of criminal activity in surrounding areas. Their pleas fell on deaf ears.
“People were complaining that their homes were being raided by armed men and that their children were constantly being harassed by these bad guys, so some parents asked that the school close the boarding house only in case these criminals decide to visit the school someday,” said Jibril Abu Bakr, who is attending His niece is at school, but she is not among the missing, according to The Daily Beast.
Abu Bakr added, “Unfortunately, someone at the school said that the authorities cannot close the dormitories on their own, claiming that they need to obtain approval from the government ministry of education before doing so.”
Concerns about their children’s safety have forced some parents to prevent their children from returning to their dormitories and instead make them attend school as day students, according to Abu Bakr. The move may have saved more girls from being kidnapped on Friday.
Abu Bakr said: “Some parents saw this coming and did the right thing by removing their daughters from the inner home.” “If not, we would have had over 500 girls from school missing today.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings that took place on Friday, which came after more than a week, against 42 people, including 27 students. They were kidnapped in a similar attack In a government school in Niger State, north-central Nigeria. The boys haven’t recovered yet.
After nearly 24 hours of arrest of Gangbei schoolgirls, a joint operation between police and army has so far failed to locate them. “There is information that they have been transferred to a nearby forest, and we are tracking them and we are being careful,” Zamfara State Police Commissioner Abuto Yarrow told a news conference late Friday.
Insecurity has increased in parts of northwest and north-central Nigeria, especially after hundreds of schoolchildren They were kidnapped in the state of Katsina Last December, state governments in two regions were forced to close boarding schools in high-risk areas. The Zamfara government waited until the kidnappings on Friday before taking similar measures. But for many in the troubled town of Gangbei, the move came too late.
Abu Bakr said, “If they had acted on time, the girls would be with their families and no one would beg the army to find their daughters.” “This indifferent attitude of the government must stop.”