Two prominent Christian bodies have expressed sadness at the latest mass kidnapping in Nigeria.
Bandits in the early hours of Monday invaded Bethel Baptist High School, Maraban Rido in the Chikun local government area of Kaduna state and took away 140 students.
Soldiers reportedly fired warning shots to disperse parents who blocked a highway in protest against the development.
The police said 26 of the students were later rescued, with the bandits retaliating by ambushing security officers and killing two of them. But a parent said the students escaped without help from the authorities.
The Kaduna government has responded by ordering schools in vulnerable areas to close shop for now, and threatening to sanction those who refuse to do so.
President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Wale Oke, condemned the abduction.
“These kidnappings and other forms of criminality have become a source of worry to most Nigerians,” he said in a statement.
“Since there can’t be any meaningful development in an atmosphere devoid of peace, we call on the government to evolve a strategy to put a stop to these criminal activities.
“Nigerians are afraid to move from one place to another and children’s minds are also not at rest to learn while teachers are living in fear. This must stop.”
The chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kaduna state, Rev. Joseph Hayab, also condemned the attack.
Hayab explained that he received the report of the kidnap, adding that “when they came into the school in their large numbers, they blocked the road near the gate, went into the school and took the students away.”
According to him, at the last count of the school population in the hostel, “they had more than 180 students on school register before the incident”.
“They counted the students this morning (Monday) and they said 174 could not be accounted for. That was what I was told. We have yet to get the full picture.
“Unfortunately our government, which seems to have access to some of the criminals, is fighting some of us who are worried about all the development, and they have allowed the criminals to have a field-day, perpetrating their criminal activities.
“What we are asking the government to do is to go after the criminals, rather they are fighting us who are the parents and victims,” Hayab added.