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137 Schoolchildren Were Abducted, Not 287 — Kaduna Gov Says Upon Pupils’ Return

Sani regretted that a teacher who was kidnapped alongside the pupils did not make it out alive.


A file photo of Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State

 

Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State says contrary to reports, 137 schoolchildren, and not 287 schoolchildren, were abducted on March 7, 2024, from Kuriga in the Chikun Local Government Area of the state.

The governor, who made the clarification on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, said all schoolchildren abducted by the bandits have been rescued by the military in collaboration with local authorities from neighbouring Zamfara State where the hostages were moved to by their kidnappers.

 

 

The schoolchildren were abducted from LEA Primary School and Government Secondary School, Kuriga, about two weeks ago.

The Defence Headquarters, on Saturday, said a total of 137 students were rescued, contrary to reports that 287 children were abducted by bandits.

The relieved governor said the number released by the military is the authentic figure, describing “287”, as a figment of some people’s imagination.

“I don’t want to join issues with anyone in terms of numbers. What is more important to me is the safe return of the children. Today, I am happy that they are back safely, in high spirits, but those numbers were just figments of some people’s imagination,” the governor stated.

“Today, I met with the families of the children and they confirmed to me that the numbers given by the military are the correct numbers,” he added, describing the “287” as works of propagandists.

Teacher Killed

Sani, however, regretted that a teacher who was kidnapped alongside the pupils couldn’t make it out alive as he developed some health complications while in captivity. He commiserated with the family of the deceased teacher and consoled the families of the released schoolchildren.

He said, “It’s only one person that has not returned and that is the teacher. That is the fact of the matter, but all of the 137 children are safely back. We had the unfortunate incident that the teacher couldn’t make it because he had some complications; he was sick — that was the report we got from the military and the security agencies but the rest of the children, all of them are back with us.”

 

FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Ahmad Gumi

‘Gumi Not Involved’

The governor also said Kaduna-based Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, was not involved in the safe return of the pupils, though the cleric had offered to negotiate with bandits for the release of the pupils.

“All those speculations you are hearing today are figments of some people’s imagination. I can tell you that without any fear of contradiction. There was nothing like Gumi in this operation. I can tell you. I won’t undermine the efforts of our Armed Forces,” Governor Sani said.

Menacing Trend

The abduction of schoolchildren in Nigeria has reached an alarming rate with insurgents profiting from the menace as they collect ransom to the tune of hundreds of millions to release abducted children.

Recently, some pupils and staff members of Apostolic Faith School in Ekiti State were abducted on January 29, 2024, from their school bus. They were heading to Emure-Ekiti when assailants intercepted them at Eporo-Ekiti. They later regained freedom about a week later but the driver of the bus was found dead.

The abduction of the Kuriga pupils was not the first in the series of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren in the country. From Chibok to Dapchi, Kankara, Kagara, and many others in Kaduna, Katsina, and Niger states, terrorists have in the last years seized thousands of schoolchildren in mass kidnappings that attracted global outrage. While some of the students eventually regained freedom, others have been perpetually detained in the enclaves of their abductors and sexual abusers.