No Ransom Was Paid For Release Of Kankara Schoolboys, Dapchi Schoolgirls – Lai Mohammed

 

The Minister of Information, Mr Lai Mohammed has said that no ransom was paid for the release of the abducted Kankara schoolboys in Katsina State and the Dapchi schoolgirls in Yobe State.

He said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Saturday while explaining some of the government’s strategies to curb the rate of abductions in the country.

“All these stories about ransom, are conspiracy theories,” the minister said.

His comments come days after another abduction of students in Kagara, Niger State, was executed.

Reacting to the incident, the minister who had on Wednesday visited the state with a Federal Government delegation to assess the situation, said the government is putting various strategies in place to curb the menace.

“Government has put in place various strategies to contain banditry, insurgency and kidnapping.

“Some of these measures are kinetic, some are non-kinetic,” Mr Lai Mohammed said.

Read Also: Gunmen Attack School, Abduct Students, Others In Niger

He, however, ruled out the option of a ransom being paid for their release.

When asked: Will a ransom be part of the government’s strategy? the minister said: “No”.

He continued by saying: “I can assure you that the government is on top of the matter – but it is not a subject matter for television discussion.

“We didn’t get there overnight, that is why we can’t get out in one day”.

According to the minister, bandits and terrorists work with the psychology of people and they deliberately attack mostly women and children because they believe that is what is going to attract global outcry.

“That is exactly what bandits do all over the world,” he said, adding that “solidarity in any form will not be tolerated by this government”.

Armed men attacked the Government Science College Kagara in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State in the early hours of Wednesday, shooting sporadically, before abducting some students, staff members, and their families.

One student was also killed in the incident.

The operations started from the staff quarters and ended in the students’ hostels and in the process, other students were also wounded by gunshots.

The gunmen who were said to have worn military uniforms gathered some staff and students at a place for hours before moving them out of the school premises to an unknown destination.

Kankara Schoolboys Abduction: Those Who Doubt FG’s Resolve To Protect Nigerians Are Mischievous – Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu speaks on Sowore and Dasuki’s release. (file photo).

 

The Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, has described those who are in doubt about the Federal Government’s ability to protect Nigerians as mischievous.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Mr Garba also said the administration has the will and has demonstrated unquestionable capacity to protect Nigerians.

“Those who doubt this Government’s resolve are mischievous,” he said, adding that “it is an administration empowered to draw enormous resilience from innate reservoirs of human resources, a network of reliable intelligence sources, and demonstrated expertise in scenario building and mediation”.

Mr Garba said this against the backdrop of the recent abduction and release of the Kankara schoolboys in Katsina State.

According to him, many of those who continue to doubt the ability of the president to protect citizens, have other motives.

He further stated that while many were heartbroken by the abduction and staying hopeful for good news, others who he described as “crass, shameful and despicable”, were profiting from the misfortune.

 

In this picture taken on December 18, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the abducted students in Kankara following their release by their captors.

 

“Indeed emergency activists thought they could cash in on these schoolboys and their parents’ misfortune devoid of their conscience.

“While patriotic Nigerians prayed for the boys’ quick return, these merchants of fortune were renting crowds, creating certain suspicious hashtags, opening bank accounts for the sole aim of soliciting funds for a cause they thought would linger. What will they do now with the one million T-Shirts they have produced? This is hugely shameful. These scavengers should now be honourable enough to refund the monies they have so far collected for the now futile campaign to discredit their fatherland”.

After the kidnap of the schoolboys last week, #BringBackOurBoys began to trend on social media, in reference to a similar hashtag used after Boko Haram abducted schoolgirls (many of whom remain missing) in Chibok and Dapchi in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

Read Also: Security Is Not Something You Can Put a Timeline On – Adesina

Although the boys have now been recovered, there have been questions around the circumstances of their release.

But Mr Garba attributed their release to the efforts of the military, saying they do not get the much-deserved accolades.

According to him, the boys were all returned safely, without a scratch – a feat he considers very important, explaining that if as much as one life was lost, it would have tainted the rescue mission.

“Those charged with coordinating the boys’ safe return held tight, stayed focused, refusing to succumb to doubts, taunts, and conspiracy theories.

“They eventually got the job done most transparently and brought back the boys,” the statement titled five takeaways from the safe return of 344 Kankara schoolboys, read in part.

“Once more, the Nigerian Military has delivered on the big stage. They had a plan, kept to it, and got the job done without firing a single shot.

“This is important because one casualty, one dead schoolboy, could have traumatized President Buhari and the parents. One dead student would have tainted the rescue mission.

“The President wanted the boys back alive and delivered to their parents. As a compassionate father figure, he would have been pained if one life had been lost in the rescue process. Bravo to the Nigerian Military and our security agencies for a well-coordinated and professionally executed mission to the President’s order reuniting the boys with their parents.

“There are not enough words to thank our gallant men and women in uniform, the military that continues to make sacrifices for many of us to enjoy and express our freedoms in its various forms and shapes”.

Security Is Not Something You Can Put a Timeline On – Adesina

 

The Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Femi Adesina, has urged Nigerians to continue to exercise patience with the Federal Government especially with regards to issues of insecurity in the country.

The President’s media aide made the appeal during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics when asked how much longer Nigerians should wait till the issue of insecurity is resolved.

According to him, security is not something that a timeline can be put on, rather it is an ongoing issue that needs to constantly be reviewed.

“Patience must be elastic, it’s not something that you get to a point and say patience has run out. Patience must be a continuous thing,” he said.

Adesina continued: “There are certain things in which you don’t have control of all the variables. If you don’t have all the variables, you don’t then begin to give timelines. And security is not one of those things that you will give a timeline to say by this time to this time, we will achieve this.

“All over the world, security is a continuous thing and even the most advanced countries, are still working at it”.

President Muhammadu Buhari had hinged his 2015 election on three major promises – fighting security, anti-corruption, and economic development.

Read Also: Police Rescue 84 Schoolchildren, Dislodge Bandits In Katsina

The same promise was reiterated in 2019, with security still said to be a priority of his administration.

But despite this promise, the security situation in the country, especially in the north, appears to continue to deteriorate.

Last week, hundreds of schoolboys were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.

Although the boys have now been recovered, there have been questions around the circumstances of their release in relation to a similar situation in Chibok and Dapchi where schoolgirls – many of whom are still missing, were also kidnapped in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

Since the kidnap and rescue of the Kankara schoolboys, other incidents of kidapping and banditry have continued to occur.

But Mr Adesina insists that “security remains a work in progress”.

According to him, there was once a time in the country when cases of bombings, kidnappings and other forms of insecurity occurred nearly on a daily basis and he believes that although work still needs to be done, there has been a huge improvement.

“Let’s be thankful for small mercies,” he urged Nigerians, adding that “there are challenges, but that is not the constant”.

‘The Whole World Is Laughing At Us’, Ezekwesili Tells Buhari After Kankara Schoolboys’ Return

A photo combination of Dr Oby Ezekwesili and President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, has taken a swipe at the President over the recent abduction of hundreds of students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.

She believes there is a problem President Muhammadu Buhari needs to address, saying the countries around the world think Nigeria is a joke.

“He (Buhari) needs to tell us exactly what happened with the Kankara kids; there is a problem here,” Ezekwesili said during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday.

She added, “This country should not be taken for a ride by President Buhari and his government; This is very unbecoming and the whole world is laughing at us. They think we are jokers.

“Many countries did not even bother to show that anything had happened in our country because they felt who are these people and what are they doing to themselves?”

READ ALSO: ‘How I Became President’, Buhari Inspires Kankara Boys To Return To School

The former minister, who is also a co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign, noted that the return of the schoolboys was a welcome development.

She queried how it was possible for the abductors to storm the school and kidnap children of such a large number without any form of signal that such an incident was about to happen.

 

A Visit To Terrorists?

Ezekwesili also wondered how governmental systems were unable to alert anyone that the children had been carted off from their school, saying the same question was asked when the Chibok girls were taken in 2014.

She stressed that neither the President nor the authorities deserved to be commended, claiming that they created the problem in the first instance.

On the return of the students, the former minister stated that there was no cause to celebrate but to be thankful for their lives.

She alleged, “One thing I don’t do in life is to pretend; for us to congratulate a government that created a problem and said it solved it, we shouldn’t be doing that, this society should learn how to hold people to accountability.

“The President should be disgusted with what happened, not commending himself. What is he clapping for? Those children were put in harm’s way, and now you say you have rescued them?”

“Maybe the President sent the young men on an excursion to terrorists and now he probably has a lifeline to terrorists so they can release children at will to him.

“So, let nobody ask anybody to clap; the only thing we should do is thank God for the children and their parents, they should not do this to little children,” Ezekwesili insisted.

PHOTOS: NAF Explains Role In ‘Rescue’ Of Kankara Schoolboys

A photo released by NAF on December 18, 2020, shows some military personnel involved in the effort that led to the return of the Kankara schoolboys.

 

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has explained the roles it played in efforts that led to the return of the students kidnapped from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State.

In a post on its verified Facebook page on Friday, the force revealed that it deployed additional air assets, including Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to Katsina hours after the students were abducted.

According to the NAF, the additional air assets were deployed on Saturday last week to provide persistent surveillance over identified areas of interest within Katsina and Zamfara States.

While this was ongoing, it stated that its personnel maintained offensive air presence to deny the abductors freedom of action.

The force added that as soon as the schoolboys regained their freedom, they were safely returned to the Katsina State Government House on Friday morning, escorted by a combined team of personnel from various security agencies with air cover provided by the NAF.

It noted that NAF medical personnel were also part of the team that provided immediate care to the boys after their release from the forest.

“Additional NAF Special Forces personnel were also deployed to provide support,” the force said.

See the photos below:

Troops Of Operation Hadarin Daji Rescued Kankara Schoolboys, Says Military

A picture taken on December 18, 2020, shows the released Kankara students at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

The abducted students of the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State were rescued, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said hours after the children regained freedom.

Major General John Enenche, who is the Coordinator of Defence Media Operation at the DHQ, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

He explained that the schoolboys, 344 of them, were rescued on Thursday by troops of Operation Hadarin Daji – a military operation in the north-west region of the country.

The military spokesman noted that the rescue operation was conducted in line with the promise of the Armed Forces to ensure all the students return safely.

According to him, they were rescued following credible intelligence received by the troops who carried out the operation with a high degree of professionalism.

Enenche, on behalf of the military authorities, commended the troops and personnel of other security agencies involved in the operation, as well as the civilians who provided the information that led to the success recorded.

The statement read,

TROOPS OF OPERATION HADARIN DAJI RESCUE ABDUCTED STUDENTS OF GOVERNMENT SCIENCE SECONDARY SCHOOL KANKARA, KATSINA STATE

Keeping to its promise to ensure the safe return of all abducted students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara, Katsina State, troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI rescued all 344 abducted students on Thursday 17 December 2020.

The students were rescued on the heels of credible intelligence by our gallant troops, with a high degree of professionalism to ensure they were all rescued alive.

The Military High Command commends troops of Operation Hadarin Daji, including all security agencies for their dexterity. The general public who volunteered information are also hereby appreciated.

 

Schoolboys Were Released

Elsewhere, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, told reporters in Abuja that the students were released by their captors.

Although he did not disclose if there was any term agreed before the children were released, he noted that the schoolboys would undergo necessary medical tests before they were handed over to their families.

“As you are aware, 344 schoolboys who were kidnapped from their school in Kankara in Katsina State last Friday have all been released unharmed.

“The Federal Government is most grateful to our security and intelligence agencies for this great feat. We also wish to thank the governments of Katsina and Zamfara states, and indeed all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria,” he said.

The minister added, “The release of these schoolboys is a testament to the importance that this administration attaches to the security and safety of all Nigerians.

“There is no government in the world that will not face the challenges of security at one time or another.”