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On Tuesday, gunmen gained access to the Nigerian Defence Academy in Afaka, Kaduna, killing two officers and abducting Major Christopher Datong.

After the attack, Bashir Muhd Jajira, a spokesperson, said the facility was compromised early on Tuesday by assailants who gained access to the residential area within the academy.

The assailants were said to have subsequently contacted the defence academy to initiate negotiations on the payment of a $500,000 ransom to secure the release of Datong. He was however found dead, having been killed two hours after the abduction.

The attack on Tuesday is a blow for a Nigerian military that is already struggling with heavily armed criminal gangs, particularly in Kaduna State which has been the scene of mass abductions at schools and other acts of violence against locals.

New service chiefs are not good enough

In January, President Muhammadu Buhari announced the appointment of four new military chiefs after pressure mounted on him to sack Nigeria’s top military leaders who appeared to be incapable of winning the war on insecurity.

That was the first time Buhari’s government changed security chiefs since 2015 when it came into power, despite declining security and calls for fundamental change.

In a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the Nigerian Senate passed a resolution calling on Buhari to fire the service chiefs.

After the appointment, Nigerians hoped for better days. But that remains a mirage as reports of attacks on schools, communities and even security establishments have continued.

More lives have been lost as a result, more property has been destroyed, and more Nigerians are being kidnapped. Millions of Nigerians displaced by the violence are currently finding refuge at various camps for internally displaced persons.

These Nigerians, many of them farmers, cannot return to their farms again. As a result, food prices are increasing.

Attacks on schools is making education difficult for children

Northern Nigeria has the lowest rates of school enrolment in the country. This situation is worse with the increasing rate of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren, many of whom have been killed, raped, forced into “marriages” or forced to join Boko Haram.

Since December, more than 1,000 students have been kidnapped from schools in northern Nigeria and Amnesty International reports that over 600 schools have closed for good.

Parents have had to part with millions of naira as ransom for the release of their children. Sometimes, the assailants refuse to release the children even after negotiations.

Since schools have been shut down, there has been a rise in reported cases of child marriages and early pregnancies of school-age girls. Children are paying the price of the government’s failure to protect its citizens against attacks.

“The Nigerian authorities’ failure to protect schoolchildren from recent attacks clearly shows that no lessons have been learned from the Chibok tragedy,” said Osai Ojigho, Director Amnesty International Nigeria. “The authorities’ only response to schoolchildren being targeted by insurgents and gunmen is to close schools, which is increasingly putting the right to education at risk.”

In August, Ruth Ngladar Pogu and Hassana Adamu were reunited with their parents after they were released after being kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents in 2014.

For Ojigho, it is the lack of justice and accountability that has led to an escalation of attacks on schools as no one has been arrested or prosecuted for the abductions of schoolchildren from Chibok and other locations.

“Schooling should not be a matter of life and death,” Ojigho said. “The government must demonstrate its commitment to protecting the right to education in Nigeria by properly investigating these attacks and holding those responsible to account.”

Arinze Chijioke is a Nigerian-based freelance journalist covering climate change and environment, business and SMSs, health, anti-corruption, social justice, gender-based violence and human rights. His stories have appeared on Aljazeera, Global Investigative Journalism Network, International Journalists Network, International Policy Digest and International Centre for Investigative Reporting among other outlets. He has won multiple awards and nominations, including the maiden edition of the Cleft Awareness Media Award 2021 and the 1st Runner-Up in the 2020 PWC Media Excellence Awards for SMEs reporting. He was one among 21 finalists out of 711 for the 2021 West Africa Media Excellence Awards (WAMECA).