287 abducted Kaduna schoolchildren freed after 16 days

THE Kaduna State government has confirmed that the 287 abducted schoolchildren in Kuriga, Chikun Local Government Area of the state, have regained freedom after 16 days in captivity.

This was made known in a statement signed by the state governor, Uba Sani, on March 24.

However, the state government failed to provide details of their release. Instead, it lauded President Bola Tinubu and his National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, for their roles in the children’s release.

The government did not clarify whether security operatives rescued the children or if a ransom was paid for their release. It also failed to confirm if all the children were released.

The ICIR reported that at least 287 students and a principal, Abubakar Isah, were abducted on Thursday, March 7, when bandits invaded the Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary and Junior Secondary School, Kuriga.

One of the schoolteachers, Sani Abdullahi, gave a higher number of abductees. He said about 187 students were abducted from the secondary school section and 125 pupils from the primary school section, totalling 312.

Abdullahi, who escaped the abduction along with others, said 25 of the pupils from the primary section had returned, leaving the number of abducted to 287.

The incident generated public outcry, with several leaders, including Tinubu, calling for their immediate release.

Announcing the children’s freedom in a statement on Sunday morning, the state government said ‘our Kuriga school children have been released.’

“Our special appreciation goes to our dear President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for prioritising the safety and security of Nigerians and particularly ensuring that the abducted Kuriga school children are released unharmed. While the school children were in captivity, I spoke with Mr. President several times. He shared our pains, comforted us and worked round the clock with us to ensure the safe return of the children.

“Special mention must also be made of our dear brother, the National Security Adviser, Mal. Nuhu Ribadu for his exemplary leadership. I spent sleepless nights with Mal. Ribadu finetuning strategies and coordinating the operations of the security agencies eventually resulted in this successful outcome.” Sani said in a statement.

He further applauded the courage and commitment of the Nigerian Army for what he described as showing that “criminal elements can be degraded and security restored in our communities.”

The recent development came after 17 students and a woman abducted from the Qur’anic school located in Gidan Bakuso village of Gada Local Government Area of Sokoto State regained their freedom.

According to the Sokoto State Government on Friday, March 22, the rescue operation was done in collaboration with the Office of the National Security Adviser.

On Sunday, March 10, The ICIR reported that the Sokoto State police command confirmed the abduction of at least 15 Tsangaya students by bandits at the Gidan Bakuso area of Gada Local Government Area of the State.

However, there is growing scepticism among Nigerians regarding the rescue strategy employed for abducted victims in the country, with some alleging that ransom are being paid or deals are being made for the release of the kidnapped individuals.

This was also as many Nigerians reacted to the demand of N40 trillion ransom by another group of bandits to free 16 kidnapped residents of the Gonin Gora area of Kaduna State.






     

     

    Recall that 16 people were taken hostage on Wednesday, February 28, when bandits raided the Gonin-Gora neighbourhood in the Chikun Local Government Area, a suburb of Kaduna.

    The kidnappings are occurring amid the failure of the Federal Government and security operatives to apprehend the criminals by tracking their phone contacts.

    The ICIR reported that in 2021 and 2022, the Federal Government earmarked over N50 billion to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for the procurement of various equipment, including biometric capture equipment, backend and frontend systems, and verification equipment crucial for the registration of National Identification Number (NIN), among others.

    Despite this investment, coupled with the hardships many Nigerians endured to meet the registration deadline and link their NIN with SIM cards, the former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami and the security operatives faced backlash due to the project’s ‘ineffectiveness and inefficiency’ in addressing rampant insurgency and kidnapping cases in the country.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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