Living in the shadow of death: Ibadan communities where children boycott school to avoid soldiers’ bullets

For over 12 years, residents of several communities in Oyo State have consistently escaped death’s snare in the form of flying bullets from a shooting range inside an Army barrack.
After several visits to the affected areas, LUKMAN ABOLADE, among other things, gives a reverting account of how education has been disrupted, fuelling fears that it might add to the state’s out-of-school children and Nigeria’s ballooning index.

All his life, nine-year-old Timilehin Malomo, has lived with foreboding fears of being hit by freshly fired bullets from firearms during shooting exercises carried out by the Nigerian Army.

His apprehension and that of his parents made him constantly miss school to stay alive.

For them, life is too precious to be sacrificed for education, and this need for survival has impacted negatively on his academic performance.

Presently, Timilehin is repeating primary four for the second time, but his concerned mother, Abike, was quick to let our correspondent know that he had always been an intelligent lad.

She also wasted no time to blame his not-too-encouraging academic performance on absenteeism from school since they moved to Ajobo community.

“We moved to this area three years ago. Before then, Timilehin was doing well in his former school. Here, I can’t allow him to attend school every day so that he won’t be hit by a bullet. The shooting scares me. Will I say it is because of school that I lost my son?” she asked.

Abike said she had lost count of how many times her son had missed classes, but was certain that it was more than half of school days in a term.

“In a week, I can keep him at home for three days. Some weeks, he won’t go at all. Most parents have withdrawn their children from school completely,” she added.


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