Combined Efforts Needed to Address Causes of Kidnappings, Banditry in Nigeria: Prelate

Government Science Secondary School in the north-western Katsina state where some 300 students were kidnaped Friday, December 11, 2020.

Combined efforts are needed to deal with insecurity in Africa’s most populous nation, including cases of kidnappings and banditry, an Archbishop in the country has said.

In his Tuesday, December 15 statement titled, “KILLINGS AND KIDNAPPINGS IN KATSINA AND BORNO STATES, NIGERIA”, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama highlights last week’s kidnapping at the all-boys Government Science School in Kankara, Katsina State, a territory covered by the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto.

“Events of recent months have shown it will only take a combination of efforts and strategies to frontally address the underlying causes of the kidnappings and banditry in the country,” Archbishop Kaigama says in his December 15 statement published on Facebook

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese adds, “While the security personnel can do their level best, all hands should be on deck if the menace is to be scotched once and for all.” 

Gunmen attacked the all-boys Government Science School in Katsina State on December 11 and engaged security forces in a gun battle before kidnapping some 300 students.


The leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the attack on December 15.

The Islamist militant group claimed responsibility for the April 2014 abduction of 276 girls from their school in Chibok, the Northeastern part of Benue State. 100 of the girls are reportedly still missing. 

Multiple news outlets have since reported that at least 300 boys were released, with Nigerian military saying on December 17 that 344 of the boys had been rescued.

The military spokesperson, Abdu Labaran further sought to clarify that Boko Haram was not involved in this particular attack but rather that the boys were abducted by bandits who masqueraded as the Islamist terrorist entity.

In the past, Boko Haram has taken thousands of people in the northern part of the country hostage.

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In his December 15 statement, Archbishop Kaigama says that while it is unclear why the learning institution that is located within the Diocese of Sokoto was ambushed, “attacks on schools and the kidnapping of students in northern Nigeria have been occurring with some degree of regularity.”

“Kidnapping incidents involving large groups of students within Nigeria usually take some time to resolve. Victims of ideologically motivated kidnappings face a higher threat of death and may experience longer times in captivity,” laments the 62-year-old Nigerian Prelate.

He adds that the latest upsurge in kidnappings and banditry in the country has stretched “Nigerian brinkmanship” to its limits.  

“The level of incidents and the apparent impunity have become unacceptable and cannot be excused, for whatever reason,” the Archbishop says, and adds, “The incidents of killings and kidnapping currently going on in Nigeria is now posing a significant threat to all the citizens.”

He goes on to fault Muhammadu Buhari-led government for appearing to be “very dutiful in combating civil protests and arresting dissenters and this is while the nation is taken up in galling insecurity.”


“The expertise of these agencies is demonstrable on the civilian population, but not on those who have picked up arms against the State,” the Nigerian Archbishop bemoans.

He says, “The primary responsibility of Government, as enshrined in the constitution, is the protection of lives and property of its citizens irrespective of ethnic and/or religious persuasion. Any breach of this fundamental principle of social contract contravenes the very reason for which Government exists.”

In his considered view, “The failure to protect the people is put squarely at the doorstep of the Federal Government that has lost the capacity to rein in sundry cartels of gunmen who now terrorize different places, particularly in the North, without let or hindrance.”

“At this point, it should be clear to the authorities that the existing strategy to stem insecurity and foster peace, is not working and should either be looked into, improved or at best redesigned,” he says. 

Making reference to the Senators who urged President Muhammadu Buhari to dismiss service chiefs and appoint new ones, the Archbishop says, “This, without question or doubt, will be a right step in the right direction.”

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“The government has to sit up and do the needful in ensuring that terrorists are checkmated, criminals rounded up, bandits dismantled, and kidnappers put out of business. This is the very least the citizens expect from their leaders,” Archbishop Kaigama says at the end of his statement published December 15 on his Facebook page. 

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Nigeria’s Lagos Archdiocese has also added his voice to the condemnation of the invasion of the all-boys Government Science School in Katsina State in the Diocese of Sokoto.

“Almost every day, we hear issues of kidnapping on the roads, on the farms, we cannot count the number of kidnapped victims on a daily basis,” Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins has been quoted as saying December 15 during the inauguration and installation of executives of Catholic Action Nigeria.

In the report, Archbishop Adewale makes reference to the attack by the predominantly Muslim Fulani herdsmen and pleads with the nation’s leadership to “be more serious and pragmatic in tackling the problems currently bedeviling the nation, and the continuous threat to agricultural activities caused by herdsmen’s attacks.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.