Nigerian security forces have been struggling to contain a recent surge in kidnappings. Photo / AFP

Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped six students and three teachers from a school in southwestern Ekiti state on Monday night in the country's first reported abduction involving school children this year.

Armed gangs have been abducting villagers, road travellers and students in return for ransom, as Africa's most populous nation grapples with widespread insecurity, which also includes a long-running insurgency in the northeast.

The Ekiti state government said in a statement on Tuesday that the latest abduction took place when the students and teachers were returning from a local trip on Monday night. The school bus driver was also taken.

Security agencies in the state were on the trail of the abductors, the statement added.

Wave of abductions

No one has claimed responsibility or made ransom demands.

President Bola Tinubu, whose focus has been reviving a struggling economy, is coming under increased scrutiny over a wave of abductions across Nigeria, including on the outskirts of the country's capital Abuja this month.

Main opposition leader Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday accused Tinubu of "playing fiddle while Nigeria is drowning in the ocean of insecurity," referring to the president undertaking a private visit to France for a week.

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