137 out of 287 schoolchildren abducted in Kaduna rescued in Zamfara – DHQ

By Our Reporter

The Defence Headquarters has said that 137 schoolchildren comprising 76 females and 61 males of LEA Primary School and Government Secondary School Kuriga in the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, have been rescued in Zamfara state

Recall that about 287 were reportedly kidnapped when the gunmen on motorcycles rode through their school, taking them away in an incident that sparked outrage and condemnation from several quarters including the UN children’s welfare agency UNICEF.

In a statement issued by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba, said that a total of 137 students were rescued, contrary to reports that 287 children were abducted by bandits on March 6.

According to the statement, the children were rescued in Zamfara State in the early hours of Sunday, through the joint efforts of the military and local authorities.

The rescued hostages comprise 76 females and 61 males, with ages between eight and 15.

The statement said the rescued students will be handed over to the Kaduna State Government for further action.

“It would be recalled that on 7 March 2024, troops received information that terrorists had invaded LEA School Kuriga in Chikun LG of Kaduna State. During the incident unconfirmed number of pupils were abducted. Following the incident, the military committed to leaving no stone unturned until all the hostages were rescued,” the statement read.

“Accordingly, in the early hours of 24 March 2024, the military working with local authorities and government agencies across the country, in a coordinated search and rescue operation rescued the hostages. The hostages are the same persons who were abducted from the school at Kuriga in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State.

“The rescued hostages totalling 137 comprise 76 females and 61 males. They were rescued in Zamfara State and would be conveyed and handed over to the Kaduna State Government for further action.”

Wave of abductions
Nigeria has been hit by a wave of mass kidnappings and many victims are still missing.

Last weekend, kidnappers abducted more than 100 people in two attacks in Kaduna state.

On Saturday, the army said it had rescued 16 pupils kidnapped just days after the Kuriga attack from a school in Sokoto, also in the northwest.

In the early 2000s, kidnappers targeted oil workers in the Niger Delta, but hostage-taking has since spiralled into a nationwide industry and has become a favoured tactic of bandit gangs and jihadists.

Nigerian risk consultancy SBM Intelligence said it had recorded 4,777 people abducted since Tinubu took office in May last year.

Some experts believe the country’s economic crisis is now driving a rise in kidnappings as desperate Nigerians turn to crime for income.

The mass kidnapping in Kaduna State and another in the northeast came almost 10 years after Boko Haram militants triggered a huge international outcry in 2014 by abducting more than 250 schoolgirls from Chibok in the northeast.

Boko Haram and its rival group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) still regularly carry out abductions in the northeast.

But with the rise of heavily armed gangs, the northwest has also become severely affected by kidnappings.

The gangs have targeted schools and colleges in the past, but there had been a lull in these attacks before the Kuriga abduction.

Precise Post recalls that the Governor of Kaduna state, Senator Ubah Sani had in a statement on Sunday announced the release of the abducted school children.

The statement he personally signed and rrleased via his X account reads:

In the name of Allah the Beneficient, the Most Merciful, I wish to announce that our Kuriga school children have been released.

Our special appreciation goes to our dear President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for prioritizing 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, which eventually resulted in this successful outcome.

The Nigerian Army also deserves special commendation for showing that with courage, determination and commitment, criminal elements can be degraded and security restored in our communities.

We also thank all Nigerians who prayed fervently for the safe return of the school children. This is indeed a day of joy. We give Almighty Allah all the glory.

Senator Uba Sani,
Governor, Kaduna State.
March 24th, 2024.

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