A security professional, Dr Ona Ekhomu, has advised the federal and state governments to privatise security of schools in the northwest to prevent incessant abductions of students by bandits.
He said: “Clearly, the governments don’t have the security personnel to protect all schools. So, they should award contracts for school security to private security companies who have the manpower and technologies to protect schools and prevent abductions.”
Reacting to the school kidnaps within the last week in Kaduna State, Dr Ekhomu, who is the president of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), said that: “Private security will act as force multiplication mechanism for the government security forces if they are contracted to guard schools.”
He said bandits had kidnapped over 600 students since January 2021, including the seizure of 39 students from the College of Forestry Mechanisation in Afaka, Kaduna State, attempted mass kidnap of students at Government Science Secondary School, Ikara, Kaduna State and the abduction of three teachers from the Universal Basic Education School, Rema, Birnin Gwari LGA, Kaduna State.
Ekhomu, who is the first chartered security professional in Nigeria, argued that at present, public schools all over the country were neglected in terms of security measures (or countermeasures). He described the vulnerability in the schools as “observable and exploitable.” He said this makes the schools irresistible and tempting targets for bandits.
The private security contractors would place personnel at the schools and install physical protection systems that would result in more robust protection for them such as perimeter fencing, gates, metal doors on classrooms and dormitories, electronic alarm systems and air raid siren that would alert security forces if schools are attacked.
“As part of the force multiplication process, the privatised guard resources will maintain phone or radio contact with military or police agencies nearby who can give rescue in the event of a security breach,” he added.
Ekhomu deplored the current security architectures in the country and said any state that did not have a central monitoring station like Lagos, Edo, Kaduna is a “failed state.” He asked rhetorically: “where should citizens call in the event of a distress?”
He urged state governments to get serious about protection of their citizens. He said that there was a huge social cost when bandits targeted schools and victimised school children.
He added: “Apart from ransom payments to the bad guys which invariably increases their capability, each incident of successful school abduction deters northern school kids from gaining western education, which will lift them from endemic poverty in the future.”
Ekhomu called for the design and installation of physical security systems in government schools in the northwest and provision of at least five uniformed private security guards per school.
He advised that the measures should be uniform in all government schools, but must provide concentric layers of deterrence, detection and delay in the event of an attack.
He said: “Soft targets must become target-hardened to prevent the destruction of northern Nigeria’s educational system.”