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Abducted Kuriga Schoolchildren Released After Weeks In Captivity, Says Gov Sani

The students, about 287, were kidnapped when the gunmen on motorcycles rode through their school, taking them away in an incident that sparked national outrage and condemnation.


A general view of a classroom at Kuriga school in Kuriga on March 8, 2024, where more than 250 pupils were kidnapped by gunmen. (Photo by Haidar Umar / AFP)

 

Scores of schoolchildren abducted from Kuriga, Kaduna State have been released, two weeks after they were taken away in what was one of Nigeria’s largest mass kidnappings in years. 

The students – 137 were kidnapped when the gunmen on motorcycles rode through LEA Primary School and Government Secondary School, taking them away in an incident that sparked outrage and condemnation from several quarters including the UN children’s welfare agency UNICEF.

But weeks after the gunmen locally known as bandits seized the schoolchildren, mostly between 8 and 15 years old, Governor Uba Sani said they had regained their freedom.

“In the name of Allah the Beneficient, the Most Merciful, I wish to announce that our Kuriga school children have been released,” the Kaduna State governor said in an early Sunday statement.

He thanked President Bola Tinubu, government officials, and security agencies for their role in the students’ freedom.

“While the school children were in captivity, I spoke with Mr. President several times,” he said. “He shared our pains, comforted us, and worked round the clock with us to ensure the safe return of the children.”

READ ALSO: ACF Claims Kaduna School Abduction Was Planned, Decries Banditry

‘Strong Assurances’ 

A general view of Kuriga school in Kuriga on March 8, 2024, where gunmen kidnapped more than 250 pupils. (Photo by Haidar Umar / AFP)

 

Although the mass kidnapping of students has reduced in recent months since the bandits began targeting schools, the Kuriga abduction was reminiscent of the April 2014 seizure of over 200 students from Chibok, Borno State.

President Tinubu and military authorities in the country, were, however, “confident that the victims will be rescued” and also ruled out the payment of ransom.

To match his words with action, he directed troops to ensure the safe return of the students.

“The Kaduna State Government and Security Agencies are working round the clock to ensure the safe return of the school children,” Governor Sani wrote on his X account just after the incident.

“I have received strong assurances from the President and National Security Adviser that no stone will be left unturned to bring back the children.”

Authorities did not give the figures for the Kuriga mass kidnapping, but a teacher in the school said 287 persons were abducted.

“At GSS Kuriga, 187 students are presently missing,” Sani Abdullahi told Channels Television. “In the primary school, 125 pupils were initially missing, but, 25 of them escaped and retired home.”

The mass abduction in Kuriga came days after suspected terrorists seized some persons from an internally displaced people (IDP) camp in Borno State.