The released Salihu Tanko Islamiyya School Pupils were received by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state Friday afternoon during which the governor said the abductors of the children were “having sickness and madness in their heads”.
The children who were abducted on May 30 this year were released on Thursday and traveled through the night to arrive Minna the state capital at about 1am on Friday.
They were first taken to the Primary Health Care Facility in Bosso local government area where they were attended to medically before being given new clothes and the female ones among them were given the Muslim head veil, Hijab.
They were brought to the Government House in three buses and taken to the conference Hall.
One of the pupils’ condition was so critical that he was carried by a government official into the Conference Hall
It was observed that this pupil was again taken back to the hospital after the reception for medical attention.
Though government vehemently denied giving ransom to the bandits before the kids were released, a cross section of the parents spoken to said “we gave them (bandits) money”.
We learnt that an unspecified amount of money was released to the bandits in addition to five new Bajaj Motorcycles .
There was contradiction in the number of pupils released. While Governor Sani Bello claimed “a total of 91 pupils were kidnapped, we received 90, we unfortunately lost one”, the head teacher of the school Alhassan Abubakar said 93 pupils were released.
” There is sickness and madness in the heads of people who kidnapped these pupils. I cannot understand how you abduct a 3-year old and keep him for more than two months,” Bello said.
Bello confirmed also that four of the released pupils “are not okay”.
He noted that the abduction of the pupils had affected ” the morale and confidence of the children and their parents but we will work on that”.
The governor said now that the pupils had been released government will “go after the kidnappers and bring them to justice”.
The head teacher of the school Alhaji Alhassan Abubakar Garba in an interview said the school will not be shut as a result of the incident, adding that the school will however be reorganised.
“We will change their uniform. The school will continue we will redesign it, we will change the uniform”.
Though Alhassan Abubakar refused to say how much was paid to the bandits he did not hesitate to confirm that money was given, adding that “many people contributed money which we gave as ransom but I can’t tell you the exact amount.
” I am excited, many people assisted us, many people contributed money, Christians, Muslims, individuals, I thank all of you,” he said.
Hajia Rabi Abubakar, who reunited with two of her children kidnapped, thanked God for reuniting with her children. She sair, ” We paid before we got our children back”.
An elated Chairman of Rafi local government council Alhaji Ismaila Modibo speaking to newsmen said a community meeting will be held in Kagara, headquarters of the local government next week to strategize on how to improve the security of the entire local government.
The children and their teachers were treated to a sumptuous meal before being ferried back to Tegina by the government.
However, the parents who came to Minna to receive their wards were not allowed to go with them as one government official said, “You will get your children when we get to Tegina”.
Meanwhile, the People’s Democractic Party has hailed the government for facilitating the release of the children but said “We will never again let Governor Sani Bello’s sleeping and snoring administration go back to sleep”.
The party in a statement by it’s Publicity Secretary Alhaji Sulaiman Ahmed Aliyu said ” We ( PDP) received the heart cheering news of the release of Tegina Islammiyya pupils who were abducted 86 days ago”, adding that it was only when the PDP speaks out that the APC led administration wakes up from slumber.
” The PDP will continue to speak, act and defend the masses of Niger state, including the vulnerable APC members,” Aliyu said in the statement, pointing out that, “The PDP will continue to give leadership, guidance, strategic direction and crash course to the APC led administration in Niger state at least until it expires in 21 Months to come.”