Lai Mohammed: 'We can't put soldiers in every classroom'

The minister says since bandits and terrorists play by unconventional rules, there's just so much government can do.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed (DW)

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says it is impossible for soldiers and police officers to secure every school classroom, as a wave of school abductions sweeps across the country's northern and central regions.

On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, terrorists invaded the Government Science School, Kagara in Niger State and made away with 42 students and members of staff.

The Kagara abduction was the latest in a string of high profile attacks on schools in recent times, following the Chibok, Dapchi and Kankara abductions--underscoring just how unsafe schools have become for kids in Africa's most populous nation.

"Even in the most developed countries in the world, school kidnappings take place. Last year in the United States, we all witnessed at least two or four school kidnappings. And that is in probably one of the most developed countries in the world," Mohammed said during a ChannelsTV programme.

"The thing about terrorism is that the terrorists don't live by your own rules and they are especially interested in soft targets. They know that what is going to get global attention is kidnapping school children and we can't turn all our schools into barracks.

"What is important to me is intelligence gathering, surveillance, rather than the physical presence of the soldiers or policemen.

"The truth of the matter is that you are dealing with people who don't think like me and you. You are dealing with people who have absolutely no rules of engagement.

"You are dealing with people whose motivations are totally different from mine and yours. And anywhere in the world, this is how terrorists operate," Mohammed said.

The minister also said it would be unfair to expect government to secure every school space, given that terrorists play by unconventional rules.

"We were in the process of saying do we close all schools along the borders and then disperse the students to other schools where you can have adequate security, so to say. But when you look at Kagara, it is not really at the outskirt. It shares no boundary with any country.

"Every security in the world must learn to adapt to the changing tactics of the terrorists.

"School children are now their focus because when children are kidnapped, parents... everybody is very worried and these terrorists do that deliberately.

"They know what they are doing when they target children. At the same time, we can't have soldiers in every class," he said.

The federal government is still negotiating with the terrorists in a bid to get the abductees back to their schools and homes.


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