From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

• Rescued school children in Kaduna


Following the release of school children kidnapped over two weeks ago by bandits in Kuriga town in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, some parents and community leaders have narrated their experiences, saying they were traumatised throughout the period the children were in the kidnappers’ den.

The embattled school children were freed last Sunday after 17 days in captivity. And there a threat by the evil men to kill them after their 20 days deadline for payment of ransom.

•Some leaders from Kuriga discussing the freedom of the children

This was even as the spokesperson of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Abdul-Azeez Suleima, said there should be urgent proper medical and shock checks on the children.

The school children were said to have been freed from bandits’ den somewhere in Zamfara State by the military troops from the Defence Headquarters.

It was not clear whether  ransom was paid or not as the 20 days deadline did not expire before the abductees were released. The deadline was expected to expire on March 26.

One of the parents, who is also the spokesman of the community,  Jubril Gwadabe Kuriga (Tafida Kuriga) said: “I have a child by name Aisha,nine years old. She was among those kidnapped. Government called us and informed us that the children were with them. That is the true story, but we have not seen them yet.

•Freed Kaduna schoolchildren

“They promised us by Monday, they will handover the children to us. Each student or child will be handed over to the parents. We are feeling happy because it is not easy missing your child for this long period of time; so we need to be happy.

•Traditional rulers from troubled LGAs at security meeting in Kaduna Government House

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“With the presence of security now in our area, we are going to mount more security so that our children can go back to school. We are happy that we now have security presence. We are going to use them to see that our children go back to school.

“We were traumatized throughout the period of the absence of our children. Our children were away in the bush: no food, no good water.

“There is a woman whose four children were among the kidnapped pupils. She could not eat, she could not sleep.

“If I  can even tell you, some parents died within the period the children were with Kidnappers. I cannot tell you the number of those that died.”

Gwadabe further said: “Let me tell you, sometimes 12  to 1am, I would wake up, I would just be crying, thinking how is she? Has she eaten?

“I think of all that because I know if she is at home, normally before she goes to school in the morning, she would eat then she would come back to eat breakfast and then when they close 2pm, before she goes for Islamiyya, she takes something.

“I was always playing with her at home but with her absence,  I’ve been feeling very bad. They said all the children are back; that is what they said. They said all of them are back but seeing is believing.”

Also, the Vice Chairman, Chikun local government area, Tala Musa Kuriga told Daily Sun: “We are very grateful that our school children have been released today (Sunday). We are particularly grateful to God, the federal and state governments. We have all worked tirelessly and we have achieved and our children are back. 

“I cannot tell how many of them that have been released. But we are happy. However, we thank the federal government and the state government. We thank Governor Uba Sani for every thing he did to make this possible.”

According to NEF dpokesperson, “the news of the return of the abducted Kuriga school children is undoubtedly a ray of hope in what has been a dark period for the community. As elders, we welcome the children back with open arms and rejoice in their safe return.

“However, we must not let this joy overshadow the urgent need for the proper medical and shock checks to be accorded to the children as they reintegrate into society.

“This school abduction is one too many, and the Northern Elders Forum strongly declares that enough is enough. The safety and security of our children should not be something that is up for negotiation. It is unacceptable for Nigerians, particularly those in the northern region, to continue living under such insecure conditions.

“It is unfortunate that barely months into the Tinubu administration, there have already been clear signs of failure in the vital area of providing security of life and property to citizens.

“The return of the Kuriga School children is a testament to the resilience and strength of our community. But it should also serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We cannot afford to become complacent in the face of such brazen acts of violence and disregard for human life.

“As elders, it is our duty to protect and nurture the next generation. We must work together with the government and relevant authorities to ensure that our children can go to school without fear and that their safety and well-being are always a top priority.

“While we celebrate the return of the abducted Kuriga school children, we must also demand accountability and action from our leaders. The security of our children and our communities must be prioritized above all else.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Uba Sani said contrary to reports, 137 schoolchildren were abducted on March 7, from Kuriga in the Chikun local government area of the state, not 287 as widely reported.

“I don’t want to join issues with anyone in terms of numbers. What is more important to me is the safe return of the children. Today, I am happy that they are back safely, in high spirits, but those numbers were just figments of some people’s imagination,” the governor stated.