In what appeared as a monkey business, Nigeria’s schoolgirls abducted few days ago by unknown bandits have arrived at and are holed in Zamfara State Government House, Gusau, the governor said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Armed gang abducted 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary (GGSS) School, Jangebe in Zamfara State at around 1am local time on Friday, though seven escaped.
“Alhamdulillah! It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity,” Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle said on Twitter.
“This follows the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts. I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe,” he said.
The governor’s tweets did not state the number of girls that had been released. The messages included images of girls and small buses.
An AFP reporter saw hundreds of girls Zamfara schoolgirls wearing hijabs, gathered at the government premises.
Authorities initially said 317 girls were abducted in Friday’s raid by hundreds of gunmen. But Matawalle said the “total number of female students abducted” was 279.
On Sunday, February 28, multiple reports had said the girls were in the palace of the Emir of Anka on Sunday, waiting for transportation to Gusau, the state capital.
But Zamfara government officials and the police later debunked the story.
Governor Bello Matawalle told a Federal Government delegation led by Aviation minister, Hadi Sirika that negotiations to rescue the girls were still ongoing.
Zamfara governor Matawalle tweeted on Monday, March 1, said Nigerians would be shocked when they get to know those behind the abduction of the Zamfara school girls.
While receiving 17 Emirs who came to pay him a sympathy visit over the abduction of the schoolgirls over the weekend, Governor Matawalle said “As we await the arrival of the released kidnapped students of GSSS Jangebe at the Government House today, I want to inform you that there are many revelations in relation to the abduction of these students.
Many people will be surprised to hear those people behind the abduction of these innocent children.”
‘They are not comfortable with the progress I am getting as a result of my peace initiative and they want to do all they can to sabotage my efforts.
‘’I will insha Allah succeed at the end of the day and they will bury their faces in shame” governor Matawalle said.
Kidnapping for ransom
Government officials had been in talks with the kidnappers – known as bandits – following Nigeria‘s third school attack in less than three months.
A source said “repentant bandits” had been contacted to reach out to their former comrades as part of efforts to free the students.
Heavily-armed criminal gangs in northwest and central Nigeria have stepped up attacks in recent years, kidnapping for ransom, raping and pillaging.
The Nigerian military deployed to the area in 2016 and a peace deal with bandits was signed in 2019 but attacks have continued.
In December, more than 300 boys were kidnapped from a school in Kankara, in President Muhammadu Buhari‘s home state of Katsina, while he was visiting the region.
The boys were later released but the incident triggered outrage and memories of the kidnappings of 276 schoolgirls by jihadists in Chibok that shocked the world.
The gangs are largely driven by financial motives and have no known ideological leanings.Subscribe
But there are concerns they are being infiltrated by armed Islamists. The jihadists’ decade-old conflict has killed more than 30,000 people and spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Kidnapping for ransom in Africa’s most populous country is already a widespread national problem, with businessmen, officials and ordinary citizens snatched from the streets by criminals hunting for ransom money.
At least $11 million was paid to kidnappers between January 2016 and March 2020, according to SB Morgen, a Lagos-based geopolitical research consultancy.
( Straightnews with reports from AFP and REUTERS)