Bello Matawalle, Governor of Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria claimed that the state government did not pay any ransom to the terrorists who abducted 279 schoolgirls from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe before they were released Tuesday morning.
Matawalle said this after the girls were released and taken to Gusau, Zamfara State capital.
He said that the girls were released through the combined efforts of security agencies and repentant terrorists in the state.
According to the governor, about 30 terrorists who embraced his peace dialogue, frontlined the negotiation and secured the release of the abducted schoolgirls without ransom being paid.
“This is the result of our peace effort and putting to shame all those saying there is no security in this country,” Matawalle said in an interview with BBC Hausa service on Tuesday.
“We have been in discussion since Friday with the abductors and reached an agreement on Monday by 4 p.m. that the girls were released.”
“We are happy that all 279 have safely returned, they will undergo medical checks and given balanced diets to recuperate by the state government before they are handed back to their respective families.”
Police in Zamfara had previously put the number of the schoolgirls at 317, after the abduction on Friday.
But Matawalle revised the number, saying only 279 girls were abducted and all of them had been freed, laying to rest speculation that some of the girls were still in captivity or missing.
Meanwhile, the governor urged the Federal Government to improve security surveillance to protect vulnerable schools and prevent further attacks on schools.
Mass abductions of schoolchildren in Northern Nigeria have been recurrent lately.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly come under criticism for failing to contain terrorism.
The President has promised that the Zamfara abduction would be the last of its kind. He has also warned state governments against rewarding terrorists with money and vehicles, adding that it may backfire disastrously.
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