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11/02/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – On Tuesday, gunmen raided the staff quarters of the University of Abuja in central Nigeria and kidnapped six people.

“Suspected bandits attacked the staff quarters of the university in the early hours of today. We have a report that four of our staff and their children were, nevertheless, abducted,” the university said on its Facebook page.

The attack took place close to the Nigerian Army’s barracks.

“The eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the bandits operated for over an hour and 30 minutes,” said Sahara Reporters.

“The bewildered residents of the staff quarters and neighbors tried without success to reach out to security agents… some soldiers finally responded after the bandits had a free reign without resistance…a public primary school behind the quarters was used by the bandits as their operational base while the assault lasted.”

Over 1,400 students have been abducted just this year in Nigeria—a sharp increase over previous years in what is a relatively new trend. The mass abduction of schoolchildren began in 2014 when the Islamist terror group Boko Haram abducted 276 mostly Christian girls from a school in Chibok.

The rate of kidnappings has increased as armed groups realize its effectiveness in grabbing headlines and raising cash through the extortion of parents or state governments for ransom money.

No level of the Nigerian government has demonstrated any real ability to push back against this trend.  The Nigerian national government is considering legislation that would criminalize paying ransoms for the return of abducted schoolchildren. If passed, the bill would amend the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 by making paying ransoms a felony punishable by a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Critics of the proposed legislation believe it misses the point. They argue that the fundamental problem at play is the lack of effective security measures  and law enforcement, not desperate parents trying to get their children back.

The Nigerian government has had an inconsistent narrative on kidnappings and ransoms over the years. Though it officially condemns the practice, the government regularly pays ransoms. Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State even publicly boasted that he is in contact with certain Fulani militants and paid them to stop specific attacks. Whatever the truth of that claim, however, attacks have increased under el-Rufai’s governorship.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].