More than 100 kidnapped Nigerian students arrive back in Kaduna

By Thomson Reuters Mar 25, 2024 | 9:53 AM

By Garba Muhammad

KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Wrapped in orange headscarves and blue school uniforms, over 100 Nigerian students and staff who were kidnapped this month arrived at the local government building in the country’s north on Monday, a day after they were freed by the army.

“There are here 131 students, six others are currently being hospitalized and will be eventually discharged when they get better,” said Major General MLD Saraso of the Nigerian army.

He said one of the 138 people abducted, a school staff member, had died in captivity. The army announced on Sunday it had rescued 137 hostages – 76 female and 61 male – in the neighbouring state of Zamfara, days before a deadline to pay a 1 billion naira ($690,000) ransom for their release.

One security source said he saw 14 black bags, which he assumed contained the ransom money, being delivered to the Dansadau enclave in Zamfara State. He asked not to be named for fears of the possible repercussions.

Information minister Mohammed Idris told a press briefing in Abuja that no ransom was paid.

School officials and residents put the number of students kidnapped on March 7 in the town of Kuriga in the northwestern state of Kaduna at 287 while Governor Uba Sani put the figure at over 200.

Given the discrepancies in the numbers reported, it was unclear if any hostages remained captured. Kuriga elders said Sani had told them all the hostages had been freed.

The abduction of students in Nigeria began over a decade ago when jihadist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a school in Chibok in northeastern Borno State. Some of the girls have still not been released.

(Reporting by Garba Mohammed, writing by Giulia Paravicini, editing by Ed Osmond)