Scores of students kidnapped from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State have been released, Governor Aminu Masari says.
The Kankara boys, who were abducted last Friday, were freed on Thursday after negotiations between their kidnappers and government representatives. Association of cattle breeders Miyetti Allah took part in the talks, the governor said.
The boys would be transported from Tsafe, Zamfara State to Kankara on Friday, he said.
No ransom was paid before the students were released, Masari said in an interview with DWTV Hausa at 10pm on Thursday.
“We did not pay ransom to the kidnappers, it was purely negotiation,” he said.
“One hour ago,” he told the station, “Nigerian soldiers and government officials that were involved in the negotiation for the release of the kidnapped schoolboys have told us that the whole school children have been released, 344 of them.
“Those involved in the negotiation include my adviser, some top military and police operatives, members of Miyetti Allah.
“They are bandits who kidnapped the schoolboys, not Boko Haram,” he said.
Boko Haram terrorists released a video on Thursday claiming the Kankara boys were in their custody. But parents reportedly denied recognising any of the boys in the Boko Haram footage.
Katsina police commissioner Usman Nagogo confirmed that the boys have been freed.
“The boys are healthy but looking very tired; we will hand them over to their state as soon as possible,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a private visit to Daura in his home state of Katsina, has welcomed the news, spokesperson Garba Shehu said.
Buhari, according to Garba, cited what he called the “spirit of partnership and the collaborative efforts of the government of Katsina, Zamfara and military leading to the release.’’
“The Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, and the army worked extremely hard. As soon as I got the information, I congratulated them. The Armed Forces know their job. They have been well trained and properly motivated.”
“When we came, we made efforts that yielded the return of the Chibok Girls.
“When a similar incident of school abduction happened at Dapchi, we successfully returned all but one of the more than one hundred abductees. When this latest incident happened, we put in our efforts and today we have this result to show.
“We have a lot of work to do, especially now that we have re-opened the borders.
“It is unfortunate that the bandits and terrorists continue to get weapons even under the circumstances of the border closure.
“We are going to dare them. We will deal with all that,” Buhari said.