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Christian Human Rights Body Calls for Urgent Intervention in Nigeria’s Attacks, Abductions

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Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights organization, has condemned the rise in attacks and abductions in Nigeria and called on authorities in the West Africa country to act fast to stop the attacks and rescue those who have already been kidnapped.

The leadership of CSW makes reference to the July 5 kidnapping of school going children at Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna State, in Northern Nigeria and a chain of other abductions and killings that followed the Bethel kidnapping.

In a Friday, July 9 report, the CEO of CSW-N, Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, says he finds it especially baffling that authorities in Nigeria do not consider the intervention in the kidnappings an urgent matter. 

“The rising levels violence and instability being endured by Nigerian civilians constitute a national emergency.  However, we are yet to see a sense of urgency and the political will on the part of the authorities to formulate and enact the effective and comprehensive security strategy that is needed to stem the kidnappings and attacks on people who are simply trying to get on with normal life as best they can,” Rev. Nmadu says in the report.

The report indicates that 135 students were abducted from Bethel Baptist High School, 28 of whom were rescued, while 107 remain in captivity.

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According to the report, Kaduna State has witnessed five attacks on schools so far in 2021, in which 204 students have been abducted and five murdered. 

In the case of the abduction at Bethel Baptist High School, kidnappers are said to have requested for food from the school authorities to feed the children in captivity.

CSW reports that on July 8, the abductors had requested the delivery of 10 bags of imported rice, 20 bags of local rice, 20 bags of beans, 10 kegs of palm oil, 10 cartons of Maggi seasoning and two bags of salt by July 9, “to ensure the children do not die of hunger.”

When the school’s Vice Principal informed them that only nine bags of rice, one bag of beans, two cartons of Maggi, two kegs of palm oil and a bag of salt had been gathered within the stipulated time frame, they reportedly insulted him and cut communications with him.

CSW says, in reference to the incident, “The fact that kidnappers requested, then rejected food because it was insufficient, implies they do not fear imminent interception.”

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The human rights entity says that residents of the Sabon Tasha, a district in Kaduna, blocked roads in and out of the area on July 8 in protest, after another 15 people were abducted in the region.

The report indicates that armed gunmen attacked the Ungwan Gimbiya area of Sabon Tasha at around 11 p.m. on July 7, breaking fences, boring through walls, and forcing open security doors before abducting residents.

Six people were released on the same evening, reportedly due to their health, and the kidnappers are reportedly demanding N180 million (US$438,400.00) for the remaining hostages.

The leadership of CSW notes that extension of abductions to this predominantly Christian district within Kaduna metropolis marks a further deterioration in security in Kaduna State, currently an epicenter of kidnapping and banditry, as urban areas were assumed to be safer than rural ones. 

It is reported that on the same July 8, Rev. David Popoola of Calvary Baptist Church Kaduna was kidnapped at around 11 a.m. 

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The human rights organization notes with concern that travelling in a vehicle across the state, which for the majority is the sole means of transportation, is now extremely hazardous due to an increase in abductions.

The organization also reports of a July attack on Warkan village in Kaduna in which nine people were killed and an unspecified number injured by suspected Fulani assailants.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s home State of Katsina in Northern Nigeria, whose Governor recently directed residents to defend themselves against increasingly well-armed attackers and not to rely on the security services, also witnessed significant attacks last week, according to the human rights organization.

The leadership of CSW finds it worrying that in a number of attacks in Northern Nigeria, security operatives have been obliged to retreat due to the superior firepower of assailants.

“This situation is an existential threat to Nigeria and risks the stability of the entire region,” Rev. Nmadu says in the July 9 report.

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The CSW official adds, “We continue to call on the Nigerian authorities, both state and federal, to equip and direct the security forces to rescue abductees in a timely manner, including the abducted students; to protect vulnerable communities, and to restores order in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and throughout the country.”

“We also call on the international community to offer all necessary technical assistance urgently, in order to stem this crisis before it can no longer be salvaged,” the CEO of CSW-N, Rev. Nmadu says.