Kidnapping: Schools fine-tune security measures
The recent onslaught on schools in the country by kidnappers is sending warning signals to managers of educational facilities, especially those operating boarding facilities even as it is apparent that students are increasingly becoming soft targets for abductors.
This development has not only put schools’ administrators on their toes, but has also led them to constantly re-strategise in order to beat the rampaging marauders to their game, a development, which places extra financial burden on them.
These measures, which vary from one school to the other, depending on their pedigree and location, may include provision of backup support from armed policemen. In the last one and a half year, there have been attacks on schools by kidnappers. The latest in the string of the unfortunate incidents took place penultimate week at Igbo-Nla Model College in Epe, Lagos State, where six students were abducted.
In October last year, vice principal of the same school was kidnapped by gunmen alongside four students of the institution. They were ferried away in a speedboat from the school at about 8 a.m.
Eight months earlier, precisely in February 2016, a night raid saw three students of Babington Macaulay Junior Seminary, Agunfoye-Lugbusi, Ikorodu, Lagos State being kidnapped. Thepupils-Olusa Timilehin, Popo-Olaniyan Tofunmi and Akinayo Deborah, were all in Senior Secondary Two at the time of their abduction.
In that incident, the kidnappers, numbering about 15, broke into the school through the rear fence, and went straight to the School of Science Department, where the students were having an evening lesson. The incident was said to be the second attempt by kidnappers, as a similar incident was foiled in January 22, 2016.
In January, three students, three female supervisors, one female cook and a female Turkish teacher were kidnapped at the Nigerian Tulip International College (NTIC), Isheri, Ogun State. It took the intervention of the Inspector General of Police’s squad from Abuja to rescue the victims.
In view of these and many other kidnap cases that go unreported in schools ranging from primary to tertiary institutions, management of academic facilities do not only resort to support from armed personnel, they also devise other ways of warding off evil and keeping the students safe.
For instance, the management of Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State, apart from constantly oiling its security apparatus and also stepping up its surveillance system, has severely restricted students’ movement outside the campus. According to the institution’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Adetunji Adeleye, the school has put in place a system, where parents’ consent are sought before their children and wards are allowed out of campus.
He said: “The exit cards are submitted at the institution’s gate, from where parents’ approvals are sought (through phone calls) whether they approve of their wards’ exit. So, for students, the consciousness is there that you cannot go out without the school and your parents’ consent. The system does not give room to vulnerability, as we strive to forestall such.
“Ede is peaceful and we don’t have issues with security, but the fact remains that insider collaborators are always involved in kidnapping cases. Fortunately, we don’t have that, though it’s through God’s grace. There is nothing we can do without God.”
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Ekiti State, is not taking chances with security issues. That explains why it’s pretty difficult for unwanted guests to gain access into the expansive institution, without being sufficiently frisked.Ganiyat Olurombi, a student of the institution, who spoke to The Guardian said: “I don’t think anyone from outside can get into our campus without due authorisation. Apart from security operatives stationed at the school’s gate, a sufficient number of them guard our colleges and hostels. So, we have nothing to worry about because our regular security guards are supported by policemen, who constantly patrol the school premises.”
The story is not very different at Caleb University, Imota, Ikorodu, Lagos State, which has also reinforced its security apparatus, in the light of incessant kidnappings in the area in recent time.The Guardian gathered that the institution has engaged the services of the Nigerian Police Force, in addition to its internal security operatives, who are upping their game.
The police patrol, it was reliably gathered, surveys the nooks and crannies of the institution at intervals, as Ikorodu’s reputation as a hotbed for abduction soars.
Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, which is not willing to be undone in this regard, has involved both the police and local vigilante groups in its security mix. This is in addition to private security guards also on its pay roll.
A few years ago, three Hilux vans were donated to the Police and the vigilante group to ensure maximum security within and outside the institution. Presently, other measures, including close circuit television (CCTV) have been acquired to maintain all-round surveillance, with a view to ensuring the safety of students and staff.
Aside tertiary institutions, Day Waterman College, a private secondary school located in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had before now stationed a police patrol van at the entrance of the school, with at least half a dozen armed policemen standing guard from morning till night.
Also Atlantic Hall in Epe, Lagos State, the presence of well-armed mobile policemen within the precinct of the school, and their combat-ready posture sends a strong message to criminal elements to keep off the facility.
Some primary schools are also not leaving the safety of their pupils in the hands of aged security personnel any longer. One of such schools is Delight of Joy Nursery and Primary School, U-turn, Abule-Egba, Lagos State, which has now engaged the services of a private security outfit.