After gunmen freed them from forest hideouts, nearly 100 Nigerian school children kidnapped three months ago from an Islamic seminary were reunited with their parents on Friday. The tegina seminary abduction in northwest Niger State has been one of Nigeria’s longest-running mass kidnappings since December when criminal gangs began targeting students and pupils.
In Niger State, the male and female students, some as young as ten years old, were greeted by the local governor before being reunited with their families, dressed in new blue headscarves and tunics. “I’m overjoyed because I now have a child. I owe everything to God. ” “Thank God they’re back, healthy and happy, and we’re grateful,” said Fasilat Jimoh Danjuma, the father.
According to headteacher Abubakar Alhassan, 92 children from the seminary, as well as two Christian students were taken from a nearby village, were released. One of the Tegina children, he claimed, had died in captivity.
Officials haven’t said how the kids were freed, but their parents have said they sold their homes and belongings to pay the ransom. A payment go-between was kidnapped for a week before being released on the condition that he deliver more money.
Initially, school officials claimed 136 students had been kidnapped. According to headteacher Alhassan, a later detailed check with parents revealed that 93 students had been taken.
In May, dozens of students were abducted by around 200 motorcycle-riding gunmen from criminal gangs known as bandits in Tegina, Niger state’s Rafi district.
Around 1,000 students have been abducted since gangs began targeting schools in December. The majority have been released as a result of negotiations, but many more are still being held in forest camps.
Gunmen kidnapped more than 100 students from a Baptist high school in Kaduna State’s northwestern region earlier this week and released 15 after a ransom was paid. In the northwest and central Nigeria, tensions and tit-for-tat armed raids between local farming communities and nomadic herders over grazing land and water resources have long existed.
Large, heavily armed criminal gangs, on the other hand, have recently become involved in cattle rustling, village looting, and mass kidnapping. The majority of them set up camp in dense forests across Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, and Zamfara states. As troops fight jihadists in the northeast, bandit gangs in the northwest, and separatist tensions in the southeast, President Muhammadu Buhari, a former soldier, has faced criticism over insecurity.