Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has advised school owners across the country as well as religious organisations, to scale up security in their environments, saying this was in keeping faith with the standards laid down by the United Nations-backed Safe School Programme of his administration.
This followed the release of the kidnapped students of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, their teachers and some of their relations, who would soon be reunited with their families.
Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, who spoke after meeting with the victims on Saturday evening said, the victims went through tremendous torture in the hands of their abductors.
But in spite of these developments, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Mohammed Matawalle, has insisted that he would continue to dialogue with the criminals as part of his commitment to the ongoing disarmament process.
In another breath, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the President Buhari presidency to speak out on the alleged complicity of the military and certain officials of the presidency in the abduction of the 300 in Jangebe, Zamfara.
That nonetheless, the president has warned that the nation would not continue to suffer any more attacks that threaten the growth of education, the security and lives of the future leaders at the same time putting the nation in a negative light.
The kidnapped victims were brought into Minna, the state capital in three buses at about 9.06am and accompanied by heavily armed policemen.
Reacting to the news of their freedom, Buhari, in a release Saturday morning by his Media Assistant, Garba Shehu, admonished school owners to also brace up the security of their environments.
“The President reiterated his earlier advice to school owners particularly, the state and local governments as well as religious organisations to scale up security around their schools in line with the standards laid down by the UN-backed Safe School Programme of the administration.
“He once again condemned the school abductions, with latest one at the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State, and directed all security and intelligence agencies in the country to hunt down the culprits and bring them to justice,” the statement stated.
Buhari, who welcomed the release of the abducted students and expressed happiness over the development, also lauded the nation’s security and intelligence agencies, as well as the Niger State government for their roles in the release of the students and others.
“We are happy they have been released”, said President Buhari, who also greatly sympathised with the staff, students, their parents and friends over this ordeal.
Upon their release, the victims were, on the orders of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, taken to the Niger State Development Company Hotel opposite the Government House for profiling, medical attention and feeding.
One of the female abductees was rushed to the general hospital for treatment because her health condition was critical.
A source said she was very fatigued and had swollen legs probably as a result of long trek from where they were kept before their release.
Pressmen and relations of the victims were however not allowed into the NSDC hotel, where they were kept but one of the parents, Mr. John Paiko, who gave his son’s name as Emma, gave glory to God for the release of his son.
“The principal called me to come to Minna that my son has been released”, Paiko, a father of three said, adding that Emma was the only child that has gone to school among his children.
He however vowed that the development would not deter him from returning his son, Emma to the same school to continue his education. Emma, a 19-year-old, is in SS2.
Another parent, Alhaji Aliyu Isah, said his wife and five children were among the victims, who regained freedom.
“I just want to thank God for the safe return of my wife and children. I went through sleepless nights, because I didn’t know the condition they were in,” said.
Alhaji Abubakar Musa, also a parent, whose six children were among the released, was happy, stressing that, “Six of my children are among the victims, even though I am yet to meet with them. I am optimistic that I will meet them in good health.
“I want to thank God for the safe return of the children. I am happy and glad that they have been released,” he said.
Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah in Abuja and Francis Sardauna in Katsina