The eight schoolgirls abducted by bandits early April in Nigeria’s North West Kaduna state have escaped from their abductors.
The students of Government Secondary School, Awon in Kacha local government area were kidnapped by terrorists on April 3, 2023.
Mr. Samuel Aruwan, the Kaduna Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, said on Tuesday that the students escaped from a thick forest around the Kaduna-Niger interstate boundaries.
He explained that the students, who are currently in safe custody, walked for days before arriving at an undisclosed location where they were housed.
“Human intelligence sources subsequently alerted the Kaduna State government for immediate evacuation,” he said.
He added that Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state liaised with the Nigerian Army to evacuate the students to Kaduna metropolis.
Terrorists combing forests
He said that credible intelligence reached government that the terrorists were combing forests in the area to recapture the students.
Mr. Aruwan said the students had been safely evacuated to a military facility where they are receiving medical attention.
Governor El-Rufai, he said, was delighted over the development, and has praised the students for demonstrating sheer courage and resilience by escaping from captivity.
The governor asked them to view the horrific experience as a turning point and pursue their education with renewed vigour for a purposeful future.
These students were abducted less than 48 hours after troops engaged bandits in a fierce battle, killing 11 in Kaduna state.
“Operational feedback to the Kaduna state government revealed that the troops advanced to several identified locations and cleared bandit camps in Bagoma, Rema, Bugai, Dagara, Sabon Layi, Gagumi, Kakangi, Katakaki, and Randagi,” Mr Aruwan said.
Fierce gun battle
“In the course of these operations, the forces made contact with bandits at Kakangi and Katakaki. A fierce gun battle followed after which the criminals were subdued by the troops’ aggressive firepower. Eleven bandits were confirmed neutralised as others fled,” he said.
Kaduna state has been an epicentre of banditry, especially in Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area.
Governor El Rufai has warned that negotiation was not part of the agenda to stop the bandits.
He said that his job as governor is to enforce law and order as well as to prosecute people who commit offences.
El Rufai restated his government’s position during an expanded meeting of the State Security Council.
“We will not engage with bandits or kidnappers. Private citizens like clerics and clergymen can do so in their individual capacities to preach to them and ask them to repent. We also want them to repent but it is not our job to ask them to do so,” he said.