Gang violence rises in Katsina schools
Delinquent gang activities have increased recently in few primary and secondary schools in Katsina State. This has led to rampant cases of violent clashes between rival groups, often leading to life threatening injuries, physical deformities and deaths.
The tell-tale signs of students who have joined such violent gangs include adopting a nickname, change in style of dressing, carrying weapons and in most cases abuse drugs. These gangsters are called Kauraye in Hausa language.
One retired teacher said students who feel isolated and unsafe in school mostly join the gangs or befriend their members to feel secured, adding that such gangs were common in public than private schools.
Unsuspecting teachers and students have reportedly become victims of gang clashes which have marred teaching and learning in some schools. Members of the gangs also extort monies from other students and even teachers, according to a source.
A brawl between two rival groups in Kambarawa Model Science Primary School along Daura Road, Katsina, left many people injured recently. A teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some of the gang members from other schools usually join their colleagues in his school during closing hours so they’d all go home together. He said clashes mostly occur on Fridays after teaching hours, adding that the school management had to shorten closing hours on Fridays and dismiss students early enough to avoid violence.
According to him, rival students from the secondary section also cross over to the primary section to molest junior students in a “show of supremacy.”
Another teacher at the secondary school section said violent student gangs have made a habit of attacking students at any time of the day. He said the gangs meet at a popular place called Gidan Waina “where we normally trace our students and send them back to classrooms.”
“We also had to join forces with the Central Police Station to help out in our efforts to curtail armed attacks within and after school hours.”
The chairman of Kambarawa School Based Management Committee, Malam Sani, said even though formal complaints have not been made, it will be hard to foreclose the occurrence of gang violence in the school, adding that the cases may not necessarily be frequent. He called on teachers and parents to “always report such acts to authorities” so that punitive measures will be taken against the perpetrators.
A resident of Sabuwar Unguwa quarters in Katsina city, Hassan Lawal, said late last year, thugs invaded the Tudun Matawalle School during lessons and injured several students and teachers. He said the identities of the attackers were not established but they were suspected of having either rivals or colleagues among students. The attack, he said was condemned in its entirety by the community.
For Abdullahi Tanko, gang violence was an emerging and alarming trend that calls for concerted effort to address. “I stay at Nwala near the Arabic Teachers College and that area is a den for rival student gangs.
“These students turn up late in school. They come in with dangerous weapons on them, they attack teachers who try to question or punish them for lateness and they continue to hang around till closing hours intimidating people.
“We want the government and security agencies to bring back the police patrol van stationed near the school before and support our community efforts towards fishing them out. We all know them and their parents; they live around us,” he added.
When contacted over reported violence in schools, the Police Public Relations Officer Aminu Sadiq said several arrests have been made and many suspects were charged with a number of offences.
“In the last few months, about 280 Kauraye suspects were arrested, 182 were prosecuted, 50 awaiting trials, just as 38 were screened out.”
Informed by the disturbing trend, the police command embarked on advocacy campaigns against Kauraye in schools and over 400 students have taken part so far,” he said.
He called on parents to always monitor the company their children keep so as to avoid being initiated into the gangs and to report suspected persons to police.