AFRICA/NIGERIA - Nigerian religious leaders call for immediate release of students from Kankara school

Wednesday, 16 December 2020 kidnappings   students   dialogue   jihadists  

Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "The National Interfaith and Religious condemns in its totality acts of sabotage aimed at disrupting the peace and tranquillity in the country by some individuals and organizations that do not mean well for the growth and development of Nigeria", says a statement from the Interfaith body of Nigeria, which calls on the need for a One-Day National Prayers for the safe return of the more than 300 kidnapped students in Katsina state recently, attacked on the night between 11 and 12 December (see Fides, 14/12/2020).
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and relatives of these innocent students that were kidnapped from their dormitories by agents of darkness that are hell-bent on bringing sorrows, tears and blood in the country", the statement continues.
"The National Interfaith and Religious Organizations for Peace commend the proactive response by the military and other security agencies in the efforts to rescue the abducted children. We are optimistic that very soon; the abducted children shall reunite with their families by the grace of God", hope the religious leaders who ask all Nigerians to collaborate with the security forces by providing useful information for the release of the students.
Meanwhile, in an audio message, a man who passed himself off as the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the assault on school in Katsina and the kidnapping of the students. "What happened in Katsina was done to promote Islam and discourage non-Islamic practices as Western education is not the kind of education allowed by Allah and his holy prophet", said the man who did not, however, present evidence of his claims.
If the statement were confirmed it would be the first time that the group led by Abubakar Shekau claims an attack in this region, far from its traditional stronghold of Borno, in northeastern Nigeria. But according to experts, the kidnapping was not necessarily carried out directly by Shekau's men.
In recent months, some groups in the northwestern States have sworn allegiance to Abubakar Shekau, while former fighters from Boko Haram or Iswap, have joined other armed groups that could collaborate with the formation led by him.
According to the authorities, 333 schoolchildren were kidnapped in Kankara, but there could be more than 500 still in the hands of the jihadists. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/12/2020)