Government Spokesman Announces Release of Over 130 Kidnapped Nigerian Students

More than 130 students who were kidnapped by gunmen from a school in Nigeria earlier this month have been safely released, according to officials. Government spokesman Abdulaziz Abdulaziz stated that it required significant diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the students who were abducted on March 7 in Kuriga, Kaduna state. He confirmed that all 137 students were unharmed, contradicting earlier media reports of a higher number of abductees. The governor of Kaduna, Uba Sani, expressed gratitude for the safe return of the students and credited the Nigerian Army for their efforts in restoring security.

Unfortunately, school abductions by armed groups without ideological affiliation remain a common occurrence in Nigeria. Recent incidents include the kidnapping of 15 students from a school in Sokoto state on March 9 and the capture of at least 87 individuals in the Kajuru area of Kaduna on March 18. These incidents typically occur in the northwestern and central regions of the country, where armed groups target civilians for ransom, causing immense hardship for families and communities.

The gunmen in the Kaduna abduction had demanded a ransom of 1 billion naira ($680,000) and threatened to harm the victims if not paid within 20 days. However, President Bola Tinubu refused to negotiate or pay ransom, as such practices were outlawed in 2022 to combat these criminal activities.

Notably, the first major school abduction in Nigeria was carried out by the armed group Boko Haram in 2014, when they kidnapped 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok, Borno state. Despite efforts, some of the girls remain in captivity, highlighting the ongoing challenges posed by such incidents. Additionally, in July 2021, over 150 students were abducted in another mass kidnapping, with their release secured after their families paid ransoms.

Since 2014, approximately 1,400 children have been victims of such abductions, underscoring the urgent need for sustained efforts to address this issue and ensure the safety of students across Nigeria.

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