From Fred Itua, Isaac Anumihe and Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
Parents and school proprietors in Abuja, the nation’s capital, are in a panic mode, over rising wave of abductions and attacks by bandits, especially around the southern and northeastern fringes of the FCT.
The parents cited the recent attack on the staff quarters of the University of Abuja in Giri, Gwagwalada Area Council by gunmen and the abduction of a vice principal around Kwali Area Council.
Daily Sun gathered from some school proprietors that daily bus shuttle services have been suspended till further notice, pending when security would improve.
A school proprietor told our correspondent they were advised by top security agents that bandits were plotting to launch coordinated attacks and possibly ambush school buses conveying school children.
The proprietor said her colleagues were making plans to halt the services in the new year when students resume from the Christmas break.
She further revealed the presence of large private and government security agents around many schools in Abuja, as part of moves to prevent any possible attack by bandits who are believed to be operating already around many parts of Abuja.
She said schools under the control of the FCT Administration, would shutdown long ahead of the Christmas break, to allow government work out a policy that would be made known by January.
Some of the parents said the FCT Administration, headed by Muhammad Bello, appeared overwhelmed by the many challenges facing the territory.
Dr. Kehinde Akinbode, proprietor of Kareem International School, Kuje, while reacting to the alert that bandits and terrorists were beginning to target schools in the FCT, confirmed that parents were apprehensive, but said he has assured them that adequate measures were already in place to forestall any unforeseen circumstances.
“I will not disclose to you what we have done because it is top secret and a security issue. Be rest assured that our school is safe. We have done everything humanly possible to prevent any security breach here,” said Dr. Akinbode.
At the New Hope International School, Kuje, a female administrative manager, who said she had no permission to speak on the issue, disclosed that the school management has been holding series of meeting with stakeholders since the University of Abuja kidnap saga.
She disclosed that work on the perimeter fencing of the school which was suspended due to lack of funds has commenced and would soon be completed. Besides, she pointed out that the location of the school would make it difficult, if not impossible, for any intruder to gain access to the premises, noting that closure of the school due to insecurity is not being considered. She admitted as genuine, fears being harboured in some quarters that bandits and terrorists are beginning to target schools in the FCT.
Major private schools on the fringes of Nasarawa, such as Mararaba and Nyanya, are apprehensive and have beefed up security. Investigations by Daily Sun revealed that parents have started withdrawing their children and wards from boarding houses, while day students have stopped using school buses.
Many parents, according to investigations, now take their children to school in their own vehicles or engage the services of drivers who take their children or wards to and from schools.
“Nasarawa State is a neighbouring state and what happens there can spill over to FCT. So, it is better to be on the side of caution,” Mrs Peace Ntaji, whose children attend one of the prestigious schools in Nyanya, revealed.
She said dormitories are soft targets for bandits and that it makes no sense for her children to remain there.
“By God’s Grace, I have a car that has not been put to use for some time. I will fix it for the children,” she said.
Another parent, Mr. Williams Agiriga, told Daily Sun that he has withdrawn his wards from the school bus because, according to him, apart from the boarding houses, the school buses are also soft targets.
“We will devise a way of taking them to school and bringing them back. We are in perilous times. One has to be extra careful with what one does. Exposing the children to unnecessary danger is not the best,” he noted.
For the second time, this year, Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, has raised the alarm over activities of a group known as Darusalam, a dreaded version of Boko Haram in the state. Eight months after raising the alarm, there have been increased cases of kidnappings and disappearances of persons.
However, the FCT Administration has revealed that it would continue to pay adequate attention to school security.
The Minister, Bello, said adequate budgetary provisions would be made for the fencing of schools across the territory in the 2022 budget under consideration.