No fewer than seven schools in Kebbi State had been shutdown indefinitely in the aftermath of the attack on Federal Government College (FGC), Birnin Yauri, by suspected bandits, according to Alhaji Isah Arzika, State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT)
Arzika told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on phone, on Saturday, that those affected were schools located on the frontlines of the areas prone to attacks by suspected bandits.
He said that the government had directed all school principals to close any school which they believed were not safe, adding that police and vigilantes had also been deployed to the schools for monitoring and protection.
“On these proactive measures, as you all know, we are part of the system. Because Principals are teachers, all the Directors at the Board are also teachers. It is the decision that we all took that is affecting us.
“Government has given us an order and option to take any necessary action as far as our schools are concerned. That we can close those schools which we think are not safe and prone to attacks in the areas close to the forest.”
The NUT chairman assured that they had already closed those frontline schools, describing such a move as a proactive measure to guard against a recurrence of the incident similar to that of FGC Yauri.
“I am not talking about only boarding schools, any school that is on the frontline and it is not safe, we would just ask the students to pack and go home, pending the time the situation normalises.”
“Before now, the state government had recruited large number of vigilante members to look over our schools and we are very much satisfied with what the government has done.
“Some of these schools that I am talking about have policemen attached to them, honestly, we are satisfied with government actions”, he said.
On the FGC Yauri abductions, the NUT chairman appealed to parents to remain calm and continue praying to God Almighty for the restoration of peace in the area and the country at large, while supporting the security agencies with vital information that would enable the rescue of the abducted persons unhurt.
He said: “Since the security agencies have swung into action on the bandits, we have not made fresh contact with the parents and relatives of the students and teachers still in their captivity.
“When we made our first contact two days ago, precisely on Thursday, they did not demand any ransom, instead, they told the parents and relatives that they only wanted to establish contact with them and inform them that their children are with them.
“As I am talking to you, two of our teachers have regained their freedom. Already, seven schools on the frontline in that area have been closed and more will be closed, if we realise the situation is not safe for the teachers and students.
Responding to a question on how the bandits made their contact with the parents, Arzika explained that they collected the contacts of parents and teachers from the abductees and thereafter made calls to tell them that their children and people were with them.
He said: “there was communication from them, but none of them asked for a kobo, they only said they wanted to establish contact that the abductees are in their custody.
“It was yesterday (Friday) that the security agencies swung on them and since then there was no contact again”.