Terrorists shut 9,000 schools in Nigeria, other African countries – US


The United States Africa Command has said terrorist groups including the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, in the last five years, shut down over 9,000 schools in different African countries including Nigeria.

It said the insurgents are replacing the schools with theirs where they brainwash students with damaging ideologies.

Boko Haram in 2018 abducted over 100 schoolgirls from Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State. The sect had earlier in 2014 abducted over 270 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State.

Some of the kidnapped victims have been returned after they were sexually violated while a number of them never returned but have been conscripted as wives and allies of the sect.

The Chibok and Dapchi incidents have caused the closure of some schools in the North-East region as fears of possible attacks became palpable.

Speaking during a virtual media briefing with journalists on Tuesday, Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, Maj. Gen. Dagvin Anderson, noted that terrorists were bent on hijacking the minds of the leaders of tomorrow.

Anderson said, “We have seen the violent extremist organisations, these terrorists, take advantage of these conditions over the last five years especially.  Al-Qaeda has had a very deliberate campaign to exploit these seams and grievances and to expand their reach, especially into the west.

“We’ve seen that they’ve taken advantage of this also by closing schools, so they – they take away the future.  They eliminate that future by shutting down these schools: over 9,000 schools across Africa shut down; 3,000 in Mali and Burkina Faso.  That is very concerning to us because what does that mean for future development, for future opportunities for people that live in these regions?  And what does it mean as these violent extremist organizations then replace those schools with their ideology and their teachings, which we believe is antithetical to a free and open society and prosperity.

“And then what we’ve seen them do is they’ve expanded now in Mali, but now into northern Burkina Faso, where they attacked infrastructure, then they took out local governance and security forces, and now they are using that, their presence, to control the local economy and exert their control over the population.”

Anderson, who heads the Command with a focus on reducing extremism in Africa, also warned Nigeria that the Al-Qaeda terrorist movement is gradually occupying the North-Eastern state of Borno and the entire North-West region.

The North-East and North-West parts of the country have been under intense attacks by terrorists and bandits, especially in the last few months.

Aside killing hundreds of villagers in the regions, countless bombings, amongst others, the blood-thirsty insurgents have become emboldened and unsparing, killing scores of troops, a situation that forced over 300 soldiers to resign from the Army recently.

Anderson noted, however, that the US is engaging Nigeria in the areas of intelligence and training to combat terrorism, especially in the two regions.