The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says terrorists target schools for the abduction of vulnerable children to embarrass the government and inflict damage on the credibility of a nation.
Mohammed was reacting to the abduction and rescue of 344 schoolboys in Kankara and 80 Islamic school students both in Katsina State as well as 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, Yobe, in 2018.
The minister, who featured on a Special Forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said attacks on such soft targets were deliberate because it would attract global concerns.
“These are all terrorists who want to embarrass the government and catch the attention of the entire world.
“The psychology is to inflict the most serious damage on the credibility of a country, giving the impression that if you cannot protect the most vulnerable in the country, such government is incompetent,’’ he said.
The minister, however, commended the nation’s security and intelligence agencies for their promptness, synergy and professionalism in ensuring the rescue of the victims.
He noted that no country in the world is immune to terrorist attacks.
“The US with all its technology and intelligence prowess could not avert the 9/11 which cost almost 2,000 lives.
“With all its acclaimed security expertise, the US could not save almost 200 children killed and injured in various school shooting incidents between 2010 and today.
“The MH13, which is a militant group cult group based in Los Angeles, has been tormenting the US for decades.
“France has lost about 289 people to terrorists between 2010 and today.
“Only recently, in March 2019, 49 people were shot dead in shootings at two mosques in ChristChurch in New Zealand,’’ he said.
The minister said the Muhammadu Buhari administration met the Boko Haram and banditry challenges.
He noted that the approach of the government in confronting insecurity was better and more effective than any previous administration.
“In 2014 when a similar abduction happened in Chibok, Borno State, the government then took three whole weeks before any meaningful action was taken.
“The parents of the victims were blamed at a time when they said they did not cooperate by giving the names, addresses, ages and sex to help in the rescue mission.
“On our part, we did not wait for that; we were bold, focused and went straight into the action to rescue the children,’’ he said.
As part of lessons learnt from the abductions, the minister said state governments were advised to be proactive.
The minister gave an assurance that the administration would continue to work toward providing adequate security for not only students but Nigerians in general.