Nigeria: Authorities must act immediately to rescue abducted children and ensure schools are made safer
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for abduction of over 500 boarding students in Northwest Nigeria
‘Attacks on schools and abductions of children are war crimes’ - Osai Ojigho
Responding to Boko Haram’s claim of responsibility for the abduction of more than 500 students from Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara, Katsina State, Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said:
“We condemn this appalling attack, which is the latest in a string of grave human rights abuses by Boko Haram. Since 2012 hundreds of teachers, schoolchildren and students have been killed or wounded by Boko Haram, and thousands of children have been abducted.
“Attacks on schools and abductions of children are war crimes. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for several attacks on schools in the past and must be brought to justice for these and other human rights abuses.
“These children are at serious risk of being harmed and of being forced to become child soldiers. Nigerian authorities must take all measures to return them to safety, along with all children currently under the custody of Boko Haram.
“Education is under attack in northern Nigeria. Schools should be places of safety, and no child should have to choose between their education and their life. Other children have had to abandon their education after being displaced by frequent violent attacks on their communities, and many teachers have been forced to flee to other states.
“The Nigerian authorities must act immediately to prevent attacks on schools, to protect children’s lives and their right to education.
“The protection of children’s lives is paramount, and the Nigerian government has a duty to ensure that the country’s educational sector is not further threatened by Boko Haram and other armed groups.
“The attack on Government Science Secondary School Kankara is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and it undermines the right to education for thousands of children in northern Nigeria.
“The abduction of students and the destruction of school property by Boko Haram could severely reduce the availability of and access to education for many children in northern Nigeria where violent attacks are escalating.”
Abducted in the night
On the night of 11 December 2020, gunmen abducted over 500 boarding students from the Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara, in Katsina state, Northwest Nigeria.
On 13 December, Nigerian authorities claimed that 333 students remained missing. The following day, Boko Haram issued a video claiming responsibility for the abduction.
Amnesty International has documented Boko Haram’s atrocities and targeting of schools since 2012. In May this year, Amnesty also published a report on the dire impact of the conflict in Northeast Nigeria on children.