By Obinna Unaeze
Gov. Abubakar Bello of Niger on Friday received 92 freed pupils of the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya school,Tegina,whom were kidnapped on May 30 by bandits.
Bello received the children and their parents at the Government House, Minna.
“In the early hours of this morning, we received the abducted Salihu Tanko Islamiya Nursery, Primary and Secondary school children from Tegina, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State.
“On May 30th this year, gunmen invaded Tegina town and abducted children (boys and girls) of between the ages of three and 14.
“Ninety one children were abducted from the school while another two were abducted from the neighborhood, making it 93.
“Out of the figure, one of the children lost his life in captivity, as a result, 92 of them were released.
“Right now, we have a total of 92 of the children here with us,” he said.
Bello said that since the incident occurred, the State Government and security agencies had been on the trail of the suspected bandits, deploying every necessary means to secure the release of the children.
“Since the victims were released, medical personnel in the state have been attending to them to ascertain their health status and give treatment where necessary.
“All the children have been certified by our medical team but for four with health issues,” he said.
The governor said that the children would be reunited with their families while the four with health issues would undergo treatment.
He noted that the incident has affected the psyche of parents sending their children to schools in the state.
He, however, assured the public that adequate security measures had been put in place to forestall further occurrence.
Bello, who condemned the act said, “the kidnapping of these children goes to show the sickness and madness in the heads of some people.”
“Otherwise, I cannot explain or imagine why you abduct an innocent three-year-old and keep him or her for over 80 days.
“I can assure you that we will do whatever it takes to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice.
“We have put in place all the necessary measures to hunt down and prosecute those involved in this heinous act, “he said.
Also, Mr Ismaila Modibo, Chairman, Rafi Local Government Area, confirmed to newsmen that ransom was paid to secure the release of the children but declined to give the figure.
Modibo said that before now the community had been in a mourning mood until the release of the abducted school children.
He lauded the efforts of the state government and other people who contributed to securing the release of the abducted school children.
Similarly, Malam Abubakar Alhassan, Principal/Headteacher of the school, said that ransom was paid to secure the release of the children.
Alhassan also said that the state government, Muslims and Christians within and outside the state contributed to the freedom of the children.
Miss Maryam Hashim, a 14-year-old Junior Secondary 3 student, told newsmen in tears that her younger brother, Hayatu Umar,died in captivity.
Hashim said that she was happy to be reunited with her family but that she was ill.
The News Agency of Nigeria NAN observed that many of the freed children looked tired and malnourished. (NAN)