By Otii Esse-theG&BJournal
TUE, AUGUST 1 2017-The blame surrounding the vulnerability and frequent kidnapping of innocent pupils has been pushed back to the various schools around the country as parents assessed the capacity of the schools to protect their wards from kidnappers.
Some of the parents told theG&BJournal that it is not just enough to hold the authourities responsible for security when the school’s authourities themselves find it ‘’unnecessary’’ to spend on basic school security systems despite the huge fees charged on parents.
‘’ The school’s authorities should be held responsible for insecurities in their schools. Educational institutions should be able to provide CCTV cameras to monitor the movement and activities of their institutions and make necessary effort to seek assistant if they cannot provide them on their own,’’ according to some parents.
The frequents kidnapping activities are now beginning to take its toll on parents and pupils as most now opt to stay away from schools in an increasing rate. The 2016 statistics of Nigeria Education Data Survey (NCDS) noted that constant attacks makes it even harder for teachers and stakeholders to persuade parents to allow their children stay on at school. Insecurity now compels school children to drop out of school at one point or the other during their academic session.
The spate of kidnapping of school children ratcheted since the abduction of over 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in north-east Nigeria in April 2014.
One parent, Mrs Yinka had described the frequent kidnapping of school children, including the most recent kidnap for ransom of dozens of Lagos school children as a terrorist invasion of schools for easy ransom money.
The kidnapped Lagos school children spent Sixty five days in captivity. The kidnappers demanded N400 million to free them. It is understood that the parents were able to persuade them to accept N100 million before they were released on the 28th of July, 2017.
Four students and two staffs were kidnapped sometime last year from the same school and a ransom paid to regain their freedom.
On the 13th of January, 2017, eight students and two staffs were kidnapped from Turkish International School in Ogun state by unknown persons and were released after 12 days. Available information had it that between N4million to N10million was paid to secure the release of each student.
Mrs. Bertha A. Ego, vice principal of Badore Modern College, Ajah, Lagos said that since the kidnap incident nothing has changed concerning security matters in her school. According to her, “we have had the same old men as security that open and close gate for vehicles to pass in and out. No presence of professional security officer is available presently”. When asked if the authorities are making arrangement on the subject matter, she said as far as she was concerned “it is God that protects”.
Her position reflects the overall despondent state of many school administrators, particularly in private schools where the overriding concern is the bottomline or profit after schools resumption.
Using CCTV cameras in school makes it much more possible for security officials to observe efficiently all transactions and activities within the premises, according to one security expert.
‘’Even if there are only two security guards in the school, the fact remains that CCTV cameras help to keep better watch of people coming in and out of the area and can better spot suspicious activities or movement and swing into action,” he told our correspondent.
He said more and more countries are adopting the approach given the rampant targeting of schools by terrorists. “That is why the authourities over there react swiftly when a situation arises.”
Indeed, since March 2015 the Australian government planted about 54 CCTV cameras around schools in Australia for security guards in an attempt to prevent possible terrorist attacks. Recently, in his national security address, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his government would “never underestimate” the threat. This action has a priority to check the activities of the school.
The Lagos State government is currently considering measures to secure schools in the State. It is not clear what measures they will be adopting but the state governor, said the issue of security is a social contract that we have signed with the people of Lagos and we would ensure that we do not disappoint.
“As far as our schools are concerned, we are going back to the drawing board to secure our schools before the next academic session,” he told reports July 29th, 2017 in Lagos.
In a statement by one of the parents of Lagos state college Mrs. Rachael Yanko, in an interview with the G&BJournal in Ibeju Lekki, she said that the whole issues of students kidnapped has become a total nightmare to them. It was a relief, however, to have heard of the release but was still unsure if the safety of the students can ever be guaranteed by the school authorities, considering the first and second kidnapps.
Some parents of the over 200 Chibok kidnapped girls are still living in torture Three years after the incident as only a little over hundred of them have regained their freedom since their kidnap. The rest remains in captivity. A fate that remains unknown for the girls and the parents.