Children abducted from a school in Nigeria were reunited with their parents on Friday after being held captive for nearly three months, the latest in a wave of kidnappings by armed gangs in the north of the country.
In Niger state, Ali Gimi, who was kidnapped from a school on May 30, said, “The happiest and most joyous day of my life is today.” Ali Gimi’s five children were among those kidnapped.
We had lost our joy and happiness. This is like a dream after I started losing hope,” he said. As I speak to you, the whole family has gathered at my house to celebrate their safe return.”
136 children were initially seized at the school, but some escaped. During captivity, a five-year-old boy died. The kidnappers initially said six children had died, but this turned out to be a lie to scare parents into paying the ransom.
One child, Ahmed Mohamed, told journalists, “We suffered horribly at their hands.” Our hands and feet were chained from dawn until dusk.”
Since December, 1,000 children are said to have been taken by armed gangs in northwestern Nigeria. It was once a notorious tactic used by Islamist militants to intimidate the population.
Schoolchildren were released late on Thursday along with two other abductees who had not been identified. Parents had provided a total of 65 million naira ($160,000) and six motorbikes as ransom, three parents told newsmen.
Separately, on Friday, kidnappers released 15 students and four staff members who were abducted earlier this month from an agricultural college in Zamfara state
However, parents and communities often raise funds to pay ransoms on their own. The government has advised states not to pay ransoms.
Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello said, “We will do whatever it takes to bring them to justice.” “We have taken all necessary measures to find and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.”