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2 weeks after, abducted Kaduna schoolchildren, staff yet to return

Armed bandits, on Thursday, March 7, invaded the LEA Primary School and the Government Secondary School in Kuriga, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, kidnapping hundreds of learners, including staff members.……CONTINUE READING>>>

The gun-wielding hoodlums stormed the school in the early hours of Thursday around shortly after the morning assembly.

On sighting them, pupils and staff sought safety in different uncoordinated directions while the bandits shot sporadically in the air to cause more dispersion and unrest.

The abductees, totalling 287, include some pupils and secondary school students and staff whose number remains undisclosed.

Today, Thursday, March 21, makes it two weeks since the schoolchildren and staff were abducted.

Despite assurances from President Bola Tinubu and the Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, to secure the safe release of the captives, nothing has yet been heard of their freedom.

Findings revealed that the secondary school was relocated to the primary school because of insecurity.

“At GSS Kuriga, 187 students are presently missing. In the primary school, 125 pupils were initially missing, but 25 of them escaped and retired home,” a teacher in the GSS, Sani Abdullahi recalled after his escape.

A resident, Adamu Shehu, told our correspondent on the telephone that “shortly after the assembly, the pupils in their hundreds ran out of their classes after sighting the hoodlums in large numbers on the school premises. They ran in different directions.”

It was also gathered that the school’s head teacher and some other staff were among those abducted by the hoodlums.

A pupil identified as Ahmed sustained gunshot wounds and was rushed to the Birnin-Gwari General Hospital, where he was reported dead while receiving treatment.

A member of the community’s vigilante (name undisclosed) also lost his life as the bandits shot him. He was buried the same day, the teacher added.

While narrating his ordeal, Abdullahi said, “I resumed school today (Thursday) at exactly 7:47 a.m. I entered the acting principal’s office and signed. All of a sudden, the acting principal asked me to look at my back, and when I turned, we discovered that bandits had surrounded the school premises.

“We became confused. We didn’t know where to go. Then, the bandits asked us to enter the bush, so we obeyed them because there were many, and the pupils who were about 700 were following us. So, when we entered the bush, I was lucky to escape alongside many other people.”

After returning to the village, Abdullahi stated that he went to report the incident to the community.

“So, immediately our vigilante and personnel of KADVS (Kaduna State Vigilante Service) followed the bandits, but the vigilante did not succeed the bandits killed one of the vigilantes; we just buried him a short while ago.

“It was when we came back from that pursuit that we briefed the village head, and we started making efforts to know the number of pupils and teachers taken away by the bandits,” he explained.

“Oer 280 pupils and teachers were taken away,’ he noted.

In his address on Thursday evening during his visit to the scene in the company of some senior government officials and heads of the state security agencies, Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, stated that the schoolchildren would regain their freedom unhurt.

“In my capacity as your elected governor, I am assuring you that by the grace of God, all the children will return unhurt.

“Before coming here, I spoke with the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and we are making efforts, the security forces have swung into action, and by God’s grace, we will rescue the children,” Sani assured.

However, the kidnap has drawn criticism from concerned individuals, organisations, parents, and well-meaning Nigerians.

The Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Amnesty International, the Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, and the House of Representatives have condemned the abduction in different statements.

However, five days after the abduction, the bandits, on Tuesday, March 12, demanded a ransom of N1 billion.

They also gave a 20-day deadline that would elapse on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.

“They made a total of N1bn ransom demand for all the pupils, students, and staff of the school.

“They gave an ultimatum to pay the ransom within 20 days, effective from the date of the kidnap (March 7). They said they would kill all the students and the staff if the ransom demand is not met,” Reuters quoted a community leader, Jubril Aminu, who acted as a spokesman for the families of the hostages.

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The councillor representing Kuriga Ward in the Chikun Local Government, Idris Ibrahim, also confirmed the ransom demand to Reuters.

In his statement, the Chief Press Secretary to the Kaduna State Governor, Muhammad Shehu, said the governor was committed to rescuing the children.

“He (the governor) had a meeting with the National Security Adviser regarding the Kuriga community,” Shehu stated.

The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj-Gen. Buba Edward said the criminal groups aimed to use the abducted students and IDPs as shields to prevent the military from bombarding them.

This was as he cited the kidnap of 101 women from Internally Displaced Persons Camps in Borno State who were abducted while fetching firewood in the forest.

However, the United Nations believed the figure was over 200.

The exact number of people abducted remains unknown but is estimated at over 200 people,” Ann Weru, Head of Public Information, Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the UN in Nigeria, said in a statement.

In his comments, Edward stated that the terrorists resorted to attacking harmless citizens as a result of the military onslaught against them, saying they were also aware of the doom that awaited them with the deployment of the newly acquired fighter jets.

He also said the criminal groups carried out the attacks to boost their recruitment drive, adding that the military had in past operations killed their commanders and foot soldiers.

“The hostage situation is an extremely sensitive one, which, unfortunately, is not unprecedented in the history of the ongoing war. These hostages are being held in locations that are difficult to get to, but not out of reach. The situation is, however, indicative of the desperation of these terrorists to avoid troops onslaught by all means,“ Edward noted.

‘Bandits unconcerned about clampdown threats’

Despite the threats to clamp down on banditry activities in the country, bandits in Sokoto State abducted 15 pupils of an Islamiya school.

This happened on Saturday morning, two days after the Kaduna schoolchildren were kidnapped.

Sokoto State Police Command confirmed the abduction, as the command’s spokesman, ASP Ahmed Rufai, said in a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents.

He said, “They (bandits) reportedly invaded the community in the middle of the night and abducted 15 students of the Islamiya School.

“They also abducted one woman, who is a resident of the community.”

No ransom for kidnappers – FG

The Federal Government on Wednesday said it would not pay “a dime” as ransom for the release of the abducted schoolchildren and staff of LEA Primary School and Government Secondary School in Kuriga, Kaduna State.

“Mr. President reiterated his zero tolerance for the payment of ransom…and Mr. President has also directed that no ransom will be paid by the government to any of these criminal elements,” the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, told State House correspondents at the end of Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting held at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

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