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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

World

Nigerian police order tighter security at schools

AFP | Tuesday, May 20, 2014

ABUJA - Nigeria's police on Tuesday announced plans to beef up security at the country's boarding schools in direct response to the mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants.

"The Inspector General of Police, MD (Mohammed) Abubakar, has ordered command commissioners of police to immediately commence (a) security audit and threats analysis of all boarding schools nationwide," the police said in a statement.

Senior officials said they expected the results to help determine security strategies to reduce the vulnerability of schools, which have previously been seen as a soft target for the extremists.

Boko Haram, which has been fighting a five-year insurgency to create a hardline Islamic state in predominantly Muslim north Nigeria, attacked schools even before the kidnapping of the girls in Chibok, Borno state, on April 14.

The Islamist group has said it is opposed to the teaching of a secular, Western-style curriculum.

In February, more than 40 boys at a boarding school in the northeastern state of Yobe, northeast Nigeria, were killed in their beds when militant fighters launched an attack.

That led to the closure of boarding schools across the state, with parents and pupils terrified of further attacks.

University students in the state capital, Damaturu, also fled their halls of residence.

In March, the authorities in Borno shut public secondary schools indefinitely because of Boko Haram attacks, although the girls school in Chibok remained open for students to sit their final examinations.

This week, Inspector General Abubakar ordered security to be tightened in all boarding schools in and around the capital of eastern Benue state, Makurdi, after an apparent written threat from Boko Haram against two boys' schools.

The Nigerian police response comes after the United Nations' special envoy for global education, British former prime minister Gordon Brown, earlier this month announced a "Safe School Initiative" to prevent a repeat of the mass kidnap.

Local business leaders have contributed $10 million, matched by the government, to improve security in an initial 500 schools in northern Nigeria.

"The education system that has the potential to transform Nigeria cannot be undermined," Brown said in Abuja on May 6.

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