Hundreds of Abducted Schoolgirls Freed in Nigeria

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - The governor of Nigeria’s Zamfara state says 279 girls taken from a school are "now safe,” but concerns remain about 38 others.

Their abduction was the second mass school kidnapping to take place in Nigeria this year.

A suspected Islamic armed gang abducted 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe at around 1 am on Friday. The girls were reportedly pushed into vehicles or forced to walk into the vast Rugu forest.

Following their release, Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle said on social networking site Twitter: “Alhamdulillah! It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity.”

He said it “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."

Nigeria’s Premium Times news service quoted Yusuf Idris, the media aide to the governor, as saying that the 279 schoolgirls were released around 4:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday. He said the 279 girls were at the Zamfara government house waiting to be reunited with their parents.

However, he reportedly asked for more time to provide details on the whereabouts of the remaining 38 girls.

The release of all girls would be an answer to Nasiru Abdullahi's prayers, a father whose two daughters were kidnapped. He had complained to reporters that the gunmen succeeded in their attack despite a “strong” military presence close to the school. “At this stage, we are only hoping on divine intervention,” Abdullahi added shortly after the kidnapping.

School students and their teachers, many of them Christians, have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups.

The Islamic terror group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, began with the kidnappings. However, other criminal groups have been inspired by them also to carry out abductions.

The federal government has repeatedly denied paying ransoms.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari urged regional state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”

The raid in Zamfara state was the second such kidnapping over a week in the northwest, a region increasingly targeted by criminal gangs and Islamic militants. On Saturday, gunmen released 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school on February 17 in the north-central state of Niger.

Nigeria’s most high-profile school kidnapping was that of more than 270 schoolgirls, many of them Christians, kidnapped by Boko Haram from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014. Around 100 of them remain missing, according to several sources.