Boko Haram Kills 70 Teachers, Destroys 50 Schools —Amnesty International


Between January and now, the Boko Haram insurgency has claimed the lives of at least 70 teachers and scores of pupils while 50 schools have been completely destroyed in the northern part of Nigeria, the Amnesty International said this morning.

The organisation, which has root in many countries of the world, further said 60 schools have so far been forced to close down.

Boko Haram, a group that has claimed responsibility for major attacks in the country, is very visible in the north-eastern part of the country.

Its members recently attacked the College of Agriculture in Nigeria’s Yobe state killing 40 on the spot while another 30 are said to have died from serious gunshot wounds.

The report released this morning by Amnesty International said: “this year alone at least 70 teachers and scores of pupils have been slaughtered and many others wounded. Some 50 schools have been burned or seriously damaged and more than 60 others have been forced to close.”

It said between 2010 and 2011 attacks were mostly carried out when schools were empty. However, since the beginning of 2013 they appear to have become more targeted and brutal.

According to the report, the attacks now frequently happen when schools are occupied, adding that teachers and pupils are now being directly targeted and killed.

“Hundreds have been killed in these horrific attacks. Thousands of children have been forced out of schools across communities in northern Nigeria and 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,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa, Lucy Freeman, said in the report.

Hundreds have been killed in these horrific attacks, Amnesty International said, adding that thousands of children have been forced out of schools across communities in northern Nigeria and that many teachers have been forced to flee for their safety.

In one of the cases detailed in the report, the principal of a government secondary school in Maiduguri said of 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.”

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Again, that same school was attacked 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 told investigators from Amnesty International.

The organisation said in spite of the tragic loss of life involved in these attacks, it is not aware of anyone being 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 while calling for Boko Haram and any affiliate armed groups or individuals to immediately stop all attacks on schools, teachers and pupils.

In an earlier release in which Amnesty International pleaded with the Nigerian government for more protection for students and teachers, the organisation said: “since 2012, we have seen an escalation of lethal attacks against students and schools.

“On top of the tragic loss of life, children are being prevented from accessing education. It is high time for the authorities not only to investigate these deplorable incidents and take those responsible to justice but to take measures to prevent them,” Freeman  said.

On the attack on the College of Agriculture, Yobe, the organisation said the attackers entered the institution at about1:00 a.m. on that day, asked the students to assemble before shooting at them.

It said one resident of Damaturu said that on that Sunday, they counted 62 bodies at the Sani Abacha General Hospital mortuary in Damaturu, Yobe State, adding that no one has claimed responsibility for the attack and that government is not seen to be doing anything about the incident.

Between 21 February and 1 March 2012 alone, 10 primary schools were attacked in locations across Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. In most attacks, the buildings were so badly damaged that they could no longer be used.

—Eromosele Ebhomele

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