Boko Haram stops 15,000 pupils from schooling …destroys 200 schools

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Activities of the Boko Haram sect has resulted in no fewer than 15,000 pupils dropping out of school in Borno State in the last one year, a non-governmental organisation, ActionAid Nigeria, has said.

The group, which made this known on Thursday, also claimed that the actions of the sect had led to the destruction of no fewer than 800 classrooms and 200 schools in Borno and Yobe states respectively.

The disclosure came as the NGO also described the killing of 59 pupils of the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi, Yobe State as “a heinous crime and a violation of the rights of children to life and education”.

According to the Country Director of AA, Dr. Hussaini Abdu, in a statement, on Thursday, since February 2013, over 15,000 children have stopped attending classes in Borno State.

Abdu said, “In the past eight months, over 100 students have been killed in different attacks on schools in the North-East.

The perpetrators should, of course, be brought to justice, but the government, at all levels, must also be held accountable; it is their duty to protect the lives and education of children. A duty they are utterly failing to uphold.”

Declaring that the North-East was already behind the rest of the country in education enrolment, retention and completion, the AA noted that security challenges in the zone would undermine education of their children.

He added, “More than 200 schools have been destroyed in Yobe and over 800 classrooms destroyed in Borno State. Since February 2013, over 15,000 children have stopped attending classes in Borno State alone. Every child has the right to learn in an environment free of danger.

“ActionAid Nigeria demands that the Federal Government upholds its obligations as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and immediately implement special protection mechanism to safeguard the lives and education of our children, particularly those in the vulnerable North-East.

“As Nigerian citizens, we must consciously hold the government at all levels to account and demand that the government go beyond rhetoric and take concrete steps to end this senseless violence.”

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission has called for the transfer of pupils in the eight unity schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to other schools outside the region, The News Agency of Nigeria has reported.

The Chairman, Governing Council of the commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, made this known in a statement on Thursday following the killing of some pupils of the Federal Government College, Buni-Yadi, Yobe.  Gunmen, suspected to be members of the Boko Haram sect, invaded the school on Monday, killing no fewer than 50 pupils.

“In the interim, proposals for the transfer of children in the eight Unity Schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe to other schools outside the region should be taken seriously,” the statement said.

The commission also called on the National Assembly to urgently reconvene plenary in memory of the pupils and others that died in the ongoing crisis in the North-East.

Odinkalu, who described the incident as a tragedy, added that the perpetrators clearly did not wish the country well.

“Words are insufficient to comfort parents of the affected pupils as the killing of children is any parent’s worst nightmare.’’

He said it was painful that the killings took place while the pupils were exercising their right to educational pursuit.

“The pursuit of education cannot be a cause for the mass murder of innocent children.

“These children were killed while exercising their right, and education is a basic right guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ Odinkalu said.

He said it was disheartening to note that children, who were symbols of the country’s unity, had become sacrificial offerings in some people’s project toward disunity.

The President, Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Okey Wali, also called on President Goodluck Jonathan, security chiefs and governors of the affected states to intensify efforts in addressing security challenges in the country.

“We call on the President Goodluck Jonathan, the service and security chiefs and governors of the affected states to intensify efforts to address the increasing security challenges that we are currently facing in Nigeria.

“This carnage must stop,’’ the statement read.

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