Claim: Shehu Sani, a Nigerian politician, tweeted that some students were kidnapped in Ondo State.
Available evidence on Sani’s claim is false and misleading. No school children were kidnapped in the hijacked bus in Ondo.
Shehu Sani, a former senator from Kaduna state in Nigeria, tweeted on Thursday that some students were kidnapped in Ondo State.
“The report of the abduction of schoolchildren in Ondo is another tragic news. The kidnapping of students has become a pandemic.”
Recently, there have been incessant cases of kidnaps across the country, including those of school pupils fueling agitation across the country.
Expectedly, Sani’s tweet gained momentum quickly on the micro-blogging social network, Twitter, with some of his followers spreading the information at a rapid rate.
The tweet, which has the tendency of reaching the 1.9 million people who follow the senator, started gaining engagement barely one hour after it was posted. It already has 164 retweets and 742 likes as of 9:22 p.m. on Thursday.
Some of the comments under the posts were in affirmation of the senators’ tweet.
One of those who tweeted was Emmanuel Nweze (@EmmanuelNweze10) who wrote, “@ShehuSani, Kidnapping of children in Nigeria has become a very big business of Fulani terrorists in the land so is no more a news beau’s Government of Nigeria is Supporting them by paying them money”
Another commentator under the post, Chegwe Ezenwa (@ChegweEzenwa), wrote, “@ShehuSani, This is the kind of pain that parents are being subjected to on a daily. How could people be so inhumane as to make families feel such pains and apprehension? It’s a cold world Earth globe americas.”
Recent kidnappings of schoolchildren across the country
On Sunday, May 30 2021, over 100 students of Islamiyya School at Tegina in Rafi Local Government Area, Niger State were abducted.
Also, on March 13, 2021, Thirty-nine students of the College of Forestry Mechanisation in Kaduna were similarly held hostage by bandits, according to an earlier report by The Punch.
On 20 April, 2021, at least 20 students and two staff members were kidnapped in Greenfield University, Kasarami, Chikun LGA, Kaduna State. Between April 23 and 26, five of the students were killed.
Earlier on Friday, February 26 2021, more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen from their boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara State.
On February, 17,2021, at least 42 people, including 27 students, were kidnapped in Kagara, Niger state, a report by The Nation Newspaper stated.
In 2014, 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok by Islamist militants Boko Haram brought global attention to the scourge of raids on schools in Nigeria but the most recent attacks are suspected to be the work of criminal gangs.
The Ondo abduction
According to several news reports, a staff member of a Chiomola private school, Omolayo Ojo, was abducted by some gunmen in Ondo State on Thursday morning.
The staff member of the school, which is located at Oba Ile Estate, Akure North LGA of Ondo State, was whisked away after gunmen hijacked a bus belonging to the school.
The incident occurred in the morning around 7am, while the driver and the abducted staff were moving around town to pick up pupils of Chiomola school.
Several reports including the one by Punch reported that only a staff member of Chiomola private school, Omolayo Ojo, was abducted by the gunmen.
Speaking to journalists, as replicated by Sahara reporters, Ojo said the gunmen threatened to harm her if she did not cooperate with them. She added that she was taken to an unknown destination but later found her way back to Akure after asking for directions from people she met on her way.
In an interview, the Principal of the school, Mrs Bolatito Akindemowo, confirmed that no pupil was abducted during the incident, adding that security operatives had been briefed of the incident.
“This has never happened to our school before. However, the staff that was kidnapped has been released but we are yet to find the school bus. We have reported the incident to the police,” the principal stated.
To further verify this claim by Senator Shehu Sani, Dubawa correspondent reached out to the Ondo State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Tee-Leo Ikoro, in a phone interview. He stated that there was no abduction in the state. He added that there was only a case of vehicle snatching.
“There was no case of abduction. It was just a case of vehicle snatching by some of our hoodlums. They didn’t even abduct the lady.
“It was not a case of abduction not to talk of going away with school children. People are just spreading false information all over the place. Immediately the incident happened there was panic in the atmosphere and you know that once there is panic, people will begin to say all sorts of things they are not sure of,” he added.
Based on the evidence available and credible news reports, Senator Sani’s tweet is false and misleading.
The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Punch to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.