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Hundreds of Nigerian Schoolgirls Abducted Last Week Released Safely, Governor Confirms

The Zamfara Girls received at a Government Building after their release

The Nigerian schoolgirls who had been, last Friday, abducted from the Government Girls’ Secondary School (GGSS) Jangebe in Zamfara State within Nigeria’s Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna, have been released.

The February 26 night abduction saw hundreds of schoolgirls taken away after gunmen stormed the school and started shooting.

“Alhamdulillah! It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity,” Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, has announced in a Tuesday, March 1 Tweet.

Governor Matawalle added that the securing the girls’ release involving “the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts.”

“I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe,” the Governor added.

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According to a BBC News report,  a total of 279 GGSS Jangebe students were released after negotiations between the government and the kidnappers.

Initially, the number of abductees was recorded as 317, a figure that Zamfara State officials said was inaccurate. 

On February 28, Pope Francis condemned the kidnapping, describing it as “vile abduction” and expressed his solidarity with the girls and their respective families.

 “Dear brothers and sisters! I join my voice with that of the Bishops of Nigeria to condemn the vile abduction of 317 girls, taken away from their school,” Pope Francis said after praying the Angelus. 

“I pray for these girls, that they may return home soon,” the Pontiff said and recited the prayer of “Hail Mary”, seeking Our Lady’s intercession for the girls’ safety. 

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Schools in the West African country are increasingly becoming the target of armed attacks and abductions.

A week before the Zamfara girls were kidnapped, bandits attacked the  Government Science Secondary School Kagara, in the neighboring Niger State, and abducted 42 people, among them 27 students, three members of staff, and 12 members of their families.

The 42 regained their freedom on February 27 and were received by officials of the State government, Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello tweeted.

The government has denied paying ransom to kidnappers to secure the safe release of the 279 schoolgirls.

In a Friday, February 26 statement, however, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari called on State governments to “review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles”

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The President said that “such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences.”

Meanwhile, in their February 23 statement, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria expressed concerns about “persistent crises” afflicting Nigerians saying the country is “falling apart.”

Highlighting kidnappings, banditry, armed robberies and murders among the multiple “persistent crises,” the members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN said the country is “really on the brink of a looming collapse.”

As a way forward, CBCN members recommended “a formal meeting of statesmen and women across the board for us to think through the challenges that seem poised to push us into the abyss.”

They called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to “rise to its obligation to govern the nation; not according to ethnic and religious biases but along the lines of objective and positive principles of fairness, equity and above all, justice.”

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“We submit ourselves to the directives of God the Almighty Father to fill us with the wisdom and courage to pull back from this brink of collapse,” the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria said in their February 23 collective statement.