October 24, 2021

Zamfara recovers abducted schoolgirls after agreeing to halt attacks on bandits

Gov. Bello Matawalle

Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State says he used repentant bandits to secure the release of 300 school girls abducted in Government Secondary School Jangebe last Friday.

Governor Matawalle in a Radio Nigeria interview on Tuesday said no ransom was paid for the release.

“The condition was that they were being attacked and that the Vigilante group were not allowing them to come to the cities to do their normal business.

“So we have agreed as a government to work out measures to ensure that they are allowed free movement,” said the Governor.

Matawalle explained that the State has started dialoguing with the bandits and will continue until peace is restored to the State.

He however appealed to the Federal Government to provide more securities for the protection of lives and properties.

The Zamfara abductions followed a similar incident in neighboring Niger State, where about 30 students and staff were abducted.

Niger State authorities also claimed no amount was paid for the release of the hostages. A popular Islamic cleric, Sheik Abubakar Gumi had led Government Officials to the camp of the bandits for dialogue.

Bearing sophisticated weapons, the bandits said Government had failed to carry out its obligations after previous peace deals, forcing them to return to their criminal activities.

Details of the agreements reached before the release have yet to be made public but reports say over N800,000 was paid. A leaked conversation between a parent of a hostage and a bandit also shows that negotiations were ongoing for ransom payment.

A similar abduction was recorded in January in Katsina. Officials secured the release of about 300 school boys through an undisclosed process.

The latest abductions, adding to the infamous Chibok and Dapchi school abductions, which have yet to be solved, are feared to threaten school attainment in the North.

Illiteracy, poverty and underdevelopment are already endemic in the region. Low school enrollment due to insecurity is feared to worsen the situation.