By Yemi Monday, Bauchi
Abduction of children, whether at home, school, farm or on the streets is reprehensible and all children abducted in Nigeria must be released immediately, says Ms Cristian Munduate, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria.
Ms Munduate, who expressed concern on the abduction of 21 teenagers in Katsina State by terrorists said the children must be rescued immediately by Nigerian defence and security forces.
The abducted children include 17 females and four males between 15 and 18 years old. They were working on a farm between the villages of Kamfanin Mailafiya and Kurmim Doka on Sunday when armed men invaded and took them away.
According to Munduate, “UNICEF is concerned about the report of the abduction of no fewer than 21 children at a farm in Mairuwa community, Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State, North-west Nigeria.
“Confirmed reports indicate the 21 children – 17 girls and 4 boys – aged between 15 and 18, were abducted last Sunday at about 12:30 p.m. by “bandits.”
“Abduction of children whether at home, at school, on the farm, or anywhere else, is reprehensible. Children should never be the target of violence, especially by anyone who should be protecting them.”
“We call on the authorities to take necessary action to rescue the abducted children and reunite them with their families unhurt, and without delay.”
The UNICEF Country Representative added that “UNICEF also calls on the authorities to rescue other persons reported to have been kidnapped on the farm at the same time the children were abducted.
“This tragic incident is yet an indication of the danger children face by acts perpetrated by people who should protect them.”
Such large-scale kidnappings have become all too common in Nigeria over the past two years, with armed gangs known locally as bandits abducting scores of people at a time, and demanding huge sums for their release.
In December 2020, more than 300 pupils were kidnapped from a boys secondary boarding school in Katsina State. They were released after a week in captivity, and the government insisted no ransom was paid.
The kidnappings and general insecurity have sparked criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari and the government. Officials say they are doing everything they can keep Nigerians safe.