Lagos — Gunmen have kidnapped students and staff from a school in Nigeria, the second attack of its kind in recent months, causing lawmakers to call on the president to impose a state of emergency.

The criminals abducted 42 people, including 27 students, from a boys’ school in Kagara in Nigeria’s central Niger state, local governor Abubakar Sani Bello said in a televised broadcast on Wednesday. At least one person was killed, according to a statement by the president of the country’s Senate.

The kidnapping, which took place early on Wednesday morning about 241km northwest of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, follows a similar attack on another school in December, when 344 pupils were abducted.

On that occasion, they were all released within a week. President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the security forces to “ensure the immediate and safe return of all the captives”, his spokesperson Garba Shehu said.

Buhari has been criticised for his administration’s inability to stem escalating violence committed by criminal groups, commonly referred to as “bandits”, and Islamist militants throughout much of northern and central Nigeria. In January, the head of state appointed new military chiefs in a bid to halt the deteriorating security situation.

The country’s upper chamber of parliament urged Buhari to immediately “declare a state of emergency on insecurity in the country”, in a statement published by the office of the Senate’s president, Ahmad Lawan.

The kidnappers have demanded a ransom, Bello said. “It is not our policy as a government to pay ransoms to bandits as we have seen and noted that they use the same ransoms to purchase arms and ammunition.”