The abduction of over 200 students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, in 2014, set the pace for numerous abductions of school children and teachers, particularly in the northern region of the country.
Boko Haram insurgents and bandits now see the act of kidnapping schoolchildren as an effective way to raise money for their broad operations. They have targeted pupils and teachers, killing scores and endangering the right to quality education in the country.
In addressing this concern, the acting Inspector General of Police, Ag. IGP Olukayode Egbetokun, on Wednesday, launched the School Protection Squad and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual as part of the Safer School Initiative.
The first phase of deployment will be in 18 states including the Federal Capital Territory. The States are Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Niger, Benue, Katsina, Kebbi, Plateau, Sokoto, Zamfara, Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo, Imo, Anambra and FCT.
During the launch at the Abuja Continental Hotel, Ag. IGP Egbetokun said the manual will guide law enforcement agencies, educational institutions and communities to a shared goal of safe and secured educational spaces.
“The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual is a comprehensive roadmap that underscores our commitment to safeguarding our nation’s future by creating a safe and conducive learning environment for our students. Since the country recorded the first incident of school kidnappings in April 2014, criminal activities such as kidnapping for ransom,terrorism, banditry, and cultism continued to threaten the security of our educational institutions as well as the safety of our school children.
“The School Protection Squad comprises highly trained Officers who will be deployed to every State across the country. These Officers are not just protectors, they are mentors, role models, and advocates for the safety of our students. Their presence will serve as a deterrent to a potential threat and a source of reassurance for both students, teachers, and their families.”
The National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who was represented by Rtd Major General Abba Diko, reiterated that education institutions have been plagued with various security challenges that have impacted negatively on school enrollment, especially among the girl child, across the northern region.
According to him, the administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has pledged to reform the nation’s education system by giving special attention to the security of schools, welfare, and training of teachers and students.
“By fostering a safe and nurturing education environment, we can lay the foundation for a prosperous future, where every Nigerian child has the opportunity to reach full potential,” he intoned.
Similarly, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, commended the Force for developing strategies for a safer learning environment.
The Senator, represented by the Chairman of, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abdulhamid Madori, said the legislative arm of government will continue to work with the Police Force and other sister security agencies in ensuring that schools are safe for children by passing bills that will address these challenges.
In her address, the National Coordinator on Financing Safe Schools, Hajia Halima Iliya, maintained that the Safe School Initiative aims to provide a secure learning environment for children who have been adversely affected by conflicts and insecurity across the nation.
According to her, it is set to span from 2023 to 2026, encompassing an overall investment of ₦144.8 billion, adding that the Federal Government has earmarked ₦15 billion for financing safer schools in the 2023 national budget.
In a paper presentation, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Abuja, Prof Abdulrasheed N’allah, recalled the attack on the University by terrorists in November 2021.
He further stated that they had received intelligence on a possible attack after the University’s internal intelligence personnel and the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested a gang of bandits in July 2021, who revealed the plan.
He also said the attack revealed ‘the glaring need for authorities to be more proactive in handling actionable intelligence.’
Also speaking, the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, DIG Adeleke Bode, disclosed that the Squad will be established in all States in line with the national plan of financing safe schools to enhance the capacity of the Police in intelligence gathering and prevent or respond to attacks on educational institutions.
READ OTHER STORIES: