Press Statement on the abduction of over 300 students at Kankara in Katsina State, Federal Republic of Nigeria


16 December 2020, Banjul, the Republic of The Gambia

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), through its Country Rapporteur for the Federal Republic of Nigeria Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, learned with dismay  the abduction of over 300 students in an all-boys Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, on Friday 11 December 2020, and expresses its condemnation of this violent act in the strongest terms possible.

According to reports reaching the African Commission, more than 100 gunmen on motorcycles attacked the Government Science School in Kankara on Friday, forcing hundreds of students to hide in surrounding bushes while hundreds were captured and abducted.

On December 15, 2020, The Boko Haram terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the heinous attack and the abduction of students, initially blamed on armed groups locally known as “bandits”.

The African Commission notes that the attack and violent abduction of the students constitute serious breach of various rights and freedoms enshrined in the African Charter, including the right to dignity, personal security, bodily integrity, freedom from torture or inhumane or degrading treatment, personal liberty, the right to education and the right to peace and security.  

In ratifying the African Charter, States Parties assume the primary responsibility for taking all the necessary institutional, political, and socio-economic measures to ensure the safety and security of their people from situations that threaten their life, physical and social security. As part of the right to education enshrined in Article 17 of the African Charter, the African Commission wishes to remind Nigeria that the African Commission’s Guidelines and Principles on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights identify safety of students at school and on their way to and from school as an important component of the right to education to be guaranteed by State Parties.

The African Commission urges the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to work with all state and non-state actors and continue its efforts to ensure the release of the remaining students abducted in Katsina State.

The African Commission also calls for independent and transparent investigation into the attack on the school and the abduction of the students in order both to identify the conditions that made the orchestration of such attack possible, to hold those responsible for the occurrence and perpetration of the abduction accountable and to institute corrective measures to prevent the recurrence of such attacks against schools in Nigeria.

The African Commission expresses its solidarity with the families of the abducted students and the affected communities and support to the efforts of Government and people of Nigeria for securing the freedom of the abducted students and creating conditions to prevent the recurrence of such attacks on schools and abduction of students.


Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso,

Country Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Federal Republic of Nigeria