On 11th December 2020, Boko Haram fighters raided the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, kidnapping over 300 male students.[1] The terror organization claimed responsibility for the attack citing Boko Haram’s opposition to Western-style education. On 18th December, the Nigerian military freed the abducted students. The governor of Nigeria’s Katsina State, Aminu Masarithe, claimed that no ransom had been paid.[2]

On 17th February 2021, gunmen wearing military uniforms entered the Government Science College, at Kagara, in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, and kidnapped 27 people, including students, teachers, and their family members.[3] They were released on 27th February.

On 26th February 2021, approximately 300 girls were kidnapped from a government-run boarding school in the town of Jangebe. According to local sources, “they came on about 20 motorcycles and they marched the abducted girls into the forest.”[4] The girls were released on 2nd March. The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, denied paying a ransom, but later President Buhari “admitted state governments had paid kidnappers ‘with money and vehicles’ in the past and urged them to review the policy.”[5]

The most recent attack, the third mass abduction of students in three months, brings the total number of people kidnapped to more than 600 since December 2020.[6] State authorities claim jihadi motivation is not considered as a principal element in the kidnappings. According to statements, the attacks on schools in the northwest “have been carried out by ‘bandits’, a loose term for kidnappers, armed robbers, cattle rustlers, Fulani herdsmen and other armed militia”,[7] principally for financial gain. Yet some observers note that the escalation in mass abductions indicates a cooperation between Boko Haram and Fulani militants and that, in fact, these have attacks have a profound religious component.[8]  The Sultan of Sokoto stated: “Make no mistake, the abduction is a classic example of the philosophical foundation of Boko Haram – that western education is forbidden. That’s why their targets are always on boarding schools, especially science schools, considered atheistic in pedagogy.”[9]



[1] “Nigeria’s Katsina school abduction: Boko Haram says it took the students”, BBC News, 15th December 2020;

[2] “Nigeria school abduction: Hundreds of girls released by gunmen”, BBC News, 3rd March 2021;

[3] “Gunmen Attack School, Abduct Students, Others In Niger”, Live TV News, 17th February 2021;

[4] “Hundreds of schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria, government official says”, CNN, 17th February 2021;

[5] “Nigeria school abduction: Hundreds of girls released by gunmen” op., cit.

[6] “Nigeria’s school abductions: Why children are being targeted”, BBC News, 2nd March 2021;

[7] Ibid.

[8] “More Nigerian Schoolgirls Kidnapped while a Christian Pastor Pleads for His Life”, Family Research Council, 1st March 2021;

[9] Ibid.