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The 1001+ Voices Initiative for People Empowerment, a not-for-profit organization committed to advocating for good governance, has frowned at the alarming rate of banditry, insurgence and other criminals attack at schools, especially across the north-west, north-central and the north-east region of the country.

The group made this known in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Uwem-obong Ankak, in Uyo on Wednesday.

“The kidnap-for-ransom crisis has sent a devastating blow on the citizenry, and Nigeria is in the worst of times economically and security wise. The way it is, soon, no part of this country would be spared the ugly day-to-day experience of school-children abductions. It is no doubt that ransom taking has turned a lucrative venture for these miscreants who see opportunity in the porous security architecture in the country to unleash mayhem on soft targets, including road travelers, churches, mosques, schools, etc.,” the statement said.

Speaking further, the group said “Just recently, 20 students and two staff of Greenfield University, Chikum, Kaduna State, were abducted by gun men, and while negotiations with families of the innocent victims were ongoing, the bandits, who requested a humungous sum of N200million as ransom, killed five of them, including one staff of the institution. A more recent one is the abduction of two lecturers and eight other students of the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, Kaduna State. Two other students of that institution were reportedly shot, with confirmed reports that they eventually died in hospital. It is reported also that since December, about 800 students have been abducted. This is scary!”

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“Nigeria is losing credibility daily on the international scene. The Washington Post of June 9, 2021, ran a commentary on the situation under the caption ‘Nigeria’s School Kidnapping Crisis is Even Worse Than You Think.’ This speaks volumes of the negative perception that would-be investors from within and outside our shores have on the security of their lives and investments. Schools are forced to shut down indefinitely and the numbers of out-of-school children are increasing daily because of fear of when bandits might strike. And not even the government’s push for the criminalization of ransom payment is helping.”

“At 1001+ Voices Initiative for People Empowerment, we believe urgent steps should be taken to address banditry, insurgency, herdsmen crisis and other associated criminalities in the country. We are not unaware that the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the military and the paramilitary groups have done the much they could, to tackle these heinous crimes. Indeed, we give kudos to some of our men in uniform who have put their lives on the line to ensure safety of individuals and property. But a lot still needs to be done. We need to re-fund the Police and jerk up our defense teams; we need to devolve the security structure to the state and local government levels; we need to engage the youth – support them with the 21st century tools for personal growth through skills acquisition; let us think more on the necessity for upgrade of our bouquets of institutional capital, including feeder/rural roads, power (electricity), housing, etc.”

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“Leadership, it must be noted, requires thinking outside the box. The kidnap-for-ransom crisis could be nipped in the bud if deliberate measures are taken to cultivate the interest of the youth in nation building. This is what the 1001+ Voices Initiative for People Empowerment advocates,” the statement concluded.

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