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Over 200 Nigerian Students Released After Abduction in Kaduna The gunmen had last week demanded a total of 1 billion naira ($690,000) for the release of the missing children and staff.

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MAIDUGURI, Nigeria- Over 200 students and staff abducted by gunmen from a school in northern Nigeria earlier this month have been released unharmed, the office of the governor of the state of Kaduna said on Sunday, days before a deadline to pay a $690,000 ransom.

The kidnapping, which took place on March 7 in Kuriga, a dusty town in northwestern Kaduna State, was the first mass abduction in Africa’s most populous nation since 2021 when over 150 students were taken from a high school in Kaduna.

Abductions at Nigerian schools were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, which seized 276 students from a girls’ school in Chibok in northeastern Borno State a decade ago. Some of the girls have never been released.

But the tactic has since been widely adopted by criminal gangs without ideological affiliation seeking ransom payments.

Kaduna governor Uba Sani said the country’s National Security Adviser coordinated the release of the Kuriga schoolchildren. He did not give details.

“The Nigerian Army also deserves special commendation for showing that with courage, determination and commitment, criminal elements can be degraded and security restored in our communities,” Sani said.

The gunmen had last week demanded a total of 1 billion naira ($690,000) for the release of the missing children and staff.

The government had said it would not pay any ransom, after the practice was outlawed in 2022.

But kidnappings by criminal gangs demanding ransoms have become an almost daily occurrence, especially in northern Nigeria, tearing apart families and communities who have to pool savings to pay ransoms, often forcing them to sell land, cattle and grain to secure their loved ones’ release.

($1 = 1,447.8900 naira)

 

-Ahmed Kingimi

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