The 42 schoolboys who were abducted from the Government Science College in Niger State were set free on Saturday, reports say. Their release comes just a day after a separate raid on a school in Nigeria's Zamfara state, where 317 schoolgirls were kidnapped by armed militants.
Armed militants stormed the Government Science secondary school in the Kagara district of Niger state at around 2 a.m. on February 17. The attack led to the abduction of 27 students, 3 staff members, and 12 family members. A boy named Benjamin Habila was killed during the raid, the International Christian Concern reported.
The survivors were in captivity since the attack, but were released on Saturday, Feb. 27.
"The Abducted Students, Staff and Relatives of Government Science Collage Kagara have regained their freedom and have been received by the Niger State Government," the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello aka "Lolo," tweeted.
The news about their release comes a day after the recent mass abduction of 317 schoolgirls in the nearby state of Zamfara.
On the 26th of February, armed militants raided the all-girls boarding school in Jangebe, Zamfara, at midnight. Victims were forced inside vehicles or taken by foot to the nearby Rugu forest.
Saidu Kwairo, one of the girls' guardians, told The Washington Post that he watched the gunmen ambush the school campus while firing their guns in the air.
"We could hear the helpless voices of the girls screaming amid the sounds of dangerous rifles," Kwairo said, narrating what he saw from his window.
UNICEF's Nigeria representative Peter Hawkins expressed hopes that the government will work to hasten the safe release of the kidnapped students.
"As we welcome the news of the release of the abducted Kagara students, I urge the government to expedite action on the release and safe return of the kidnapped students of Government Girls Secondary School Jangebe," Hawkins said.
The past few years saw increasing attacks on schools in Nigeria, discouraging concerned parents from sending their kids to school.
For example, just two months ago, 350 boys were abducted from a secondary school in northwestern Katsina. Years ago in 2018, Boko Haram abducted 110 girls from Government Girls' Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State.
Earlier than this --in 2014-- 276 girls were kidnapped in Chibok. This incident that caused outrage across the globe.
Kidnapping for ransom by armed gangs is common across many northern Nigerian states, Reuters wrote.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said that his administration will not give in to the "bandits'" attempts to extort "massive ransom payments" they can get from kidnapping "innocent school students" and then using "blackmail."
Buhari also urged the government "to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously."
While no group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack, terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Fulani Militants, and ISWAP are active in northern Nigeria.
When translated, Boko Haram means "Western education is forbidden." The group caused havoc in Nigeria for over a decade now, killing thousands of Christians in the process and displacing millions in an attempt to remove western influence and impose strict Islamic Sharia law in the country.
The ICC urges people to pray for the family of Benjamin Habila, the people who have experienced trauma from the abductions, and the healing of Nigeria.