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Threats by Boko Haram: Catholic schools embark on indefinite mid-term break

By Daniel Tyokua

Satisfied that the Federal Government has no serious plans to forestall kidnapping of school children across the country, the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja has forced all principals and headmasters in schools under its jurisdiction to embark on indefinite vacatio.

Boko Haram and its other variants known as bandits or simply as kidnappers, have in recent weeks, abducted several school children in some states across Nigeria, fuelling speculation that the ideology of Boko Haram is gradually firming up in the country.

Just last week, there were security concerns at Veritas University, Abuja (owned by the Catholic Church) and at the Nigerian Law School, both in Bwari Area Council.Although the public relations officers of the two institutions dismissed such concerns, Abuja residents knew they did so to avoid a backlash from the government as security threats are rife all around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with several people already kidnapped in the city, known as the most secured in the country.At the weekend, the Rector and management of SS. Simon and Jude Semirary, Kuke, Abuja, had asked parents of seminarians in the pastoral training institute to come and fetch their children.

The management of the Seminary had dubbed the sudden vacation Mid-Term Break, but with a caveat in a statement sent to parents of the Seminarians that their children would remain at home receiving lessons through online medium to be created, until further notice.

Just on Monday, other schools belonging to Catholic Mission sent out messages to parents of their students informing them that “Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese is proceeding on mid-term break  proposed by Government from Wednesday 12th May to Sunday 16th May, 2021”.

Continuing, the message sated that: “However, because of the insecurity within Abuja and the increasing fear and tension nationwide, the resumption date is indefinite until we see how events unfold in the country in the coming days.”We hope to keep in touch while they are at home with you”.            

Investigations by our reporters also showed that the fears did not just affect Catholic schools. 

Already, parents whose children are enrolled in several other privately-owned secondary and primary schools, have also been asked to come forward and pick their children.

Some of the proprietors of these affected schools asked their students to vacate from the hostels and seek alternative private accommodation, while others even advised students residing in all-students private appointments, popularly referred to as lodges, to seek alternative places of abode for fear of insecurity.

At the time of filing this report, there are serious apprehsion in both public and private schools, particularly those located far flung from Abuja city center.Even those at Abuja city center, but bothered by bushes, are considering shutting their doors to academic activities, for fear of their students being kidnapped.

The Commission of Police at the FCT, Bala Ciroma had severally assured Abuja residents of their safety.

But inspite of his assurances, bandits and kidnappers have had a field day mainly at the suburbs in FCT.Recall that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) had through its president, Most Rev. Augustine Akubueze, urged the Federal Government to stop blackmailing its critics and fight the debilitating insecurity, which it noted,  had never been as bad in the country since Independence. 

Also, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja,  Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, while addressing the press last week as part of activities to mark the World Communications Day, acknowledged that there were serious security concerns at the schools owned by the mission, but said what would happen next would be determined by prevailing situation and expert advise.Hardly has any week passed in the last two months without the chilling story of how unknown gunmen or kidnappers took away students of either a higher institution or secondary school in the country.

Also, several communities have been attacked, people killed in their numbers, property razed down, by unknown gunmen, inspite of assurances of safety by the government.

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