Barely a week after more than 50 students were killed by gunmen College of Agriculture in Yobe State, Amnesty International has published a new report assessing attacks on schools in northern Nigeria between 2012 and 2013.
Lucy Freeman, Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director said hundreds have been killed in several horrific attacks and thousands of children have been forced out of schools across communities in northern Nigeria, even as many teachers have been forced to flee for their safety.
“Attacks against schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings demonstrate an absolute disregard for the right to life and the right to education,” the international watchdog organisation said.
According to the report titled “Education under attack in Nigeria”, at least 70 teachers and scores of pupils have been slaughtered this year alone and many others wounded. Some 50 schools have been burned or seriously damaged and more than 60 others have been forced to close.
The report said since the beginning of 2013 attacks against schools have appeared to become more targeted and brutal, noting that between 2010 and 2011 attacks were mostly carried out when schools were empty.
In one of the cases detailed in the report, the principal of a government secondary school in Maiduguri describes an attack in February 2013: “The gunmen opened fire on everyone around. Two staff teachers were shot. One died on the spot and the other was seriously wounded. We were all devastated.”
The same school was attacked again the following month and three people were shot and killed in the exams office.
“We were forced to close the school immediately and asked the children to go home. We remained closed for that entire period,” the principal was quoted.
Amnesty International further expressed dismay that in spite of the tragic loss of life involved in these attacks, no one has been arrested and prosecuted by the authorities.
“The Nigerian authorities must provide better protection for schools and ensure that attacks are properly investigated and suspected perpetrators brought to justice,” it said.
The International watchdog also called on Boko Haram and other affiliate armed groups or individuals to “immediately” stop all attacks on schools, teachers and pupils.