PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari is to meet with the just-released Government Science Secondary School Kankara schoolboys at the presidential villa in Kastina today to show his solidarity with them.
Last weekend, the boys were abducted from their school in Katsina State by armed bandits hired by terrorist sect Boko Haram. Yesterday, however, they were freed following negotiations between their abductors and the Katsina and Zamfara state governments conducted through Fulani herdsmen body Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (Macban).
Apparently, they were kidnapped by a notorious local gangster called Awwalu Daudawa, a former armed robber, gun runner and castle rustler. Mr Daudawa , 43, worked in collaboration with Idi Minorti and Dankarami, two other underworld kingpins with strong local followings.
During their ordeal, the bandits used the boys as a human shield as they were marched through the night to Daji Yankuzo village in neighbouring Zamfara State, making it difficult for security operatives to use lethal force to rescue the pupils. However, the Nigeria military eventually surrounded the perimeter of the location where the bandits camped the boys and maintained aerial surveillance as negotiations went on.
It is not yet clear if any ransom was paid for the release of the boys before their release or if Macban demanded payment for its services. Nigeria’s defence headquarters has said there that troops would not sleep until all the abducted students were rescued but a raid was not necessary as the boys were freed in Zamfara State without a shot being fired.
Bashir Ahmad, President Buhari’s personal assistant on new media, said: “President Buhari will receive the rescued students of the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara later this afternoon in Katsina.”
Earlier today, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State had received the 344 abducted pupils at Government House. President Buhari had come under fire for not visiting the school or meeting with the parents of the students over the attack.
This Kankara students’ abduction is not the first in the history of Nigeria. Boko Haram had in the past abducted hundreds of secondary school girls from Chibok, in Borno State and later from another girls school in Dapchi in Yobe State.