Governor Uba Sani of Kaduna State has said that, contrary to reports, 137 schoolchildren, and not 287, were abducted on March 7, from Kuriga in the Chikun Local Government Area of the state.

The governor, who made the clarification on a national television programme, said all the schoolchildren abducted by marauding bandits were rescued by the military in collaboration with local authorities from neighbouring Zamfara State, where the hostages were moved by their kidnappers.

The relieved governor said the number released by the military is the authentic figure, describing “287”, as a figment of some people’s imagination.

One of the secondary school teachers, Sani Abdullahi who briefed Governor Sani at Kuriga hours after the incident, said  287 were marched into the bush by the armed attackers.

There was no independent confirmation of the number of pupils.

Thereafter, neither the police nor the Kaduna State government gave a figure of those kidnapped until yesterday, when they were rescued.

Governor Sani added in yesterday’s interview: “I don’t want to join issues with anyone in terms of numbers. What is more important to me is the safe return of the children. Today, I am happy that they are back safely, in high spirit, but those numbers were just figment of some people’s imagination,” the governor stated.

“Today, I met with the families of the children and they confirmed to me that the number given by the military is correct,” he added, describing the “287” as works of propangadists.

Sani, however, regretted that, a teacher who was kidnapped alongside the pupils couldn’t make it out alive as he developed some complications while in captivity.

He commiserated with the family of the deceased teacher and consoled the families of the released schoolchildren.

He said: “It’s only one person that has not returned and that is the teacher. That is the fact of the matter but all of the 137 children are safely back. We had the unfortunate incident that the teacher couldn’t make it because he had some complications; he was sick — that was the report we got from the military and the security agencies but the rest of the children, all of them are back with us.”

The Governor also said Kaduna-based Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, was not involved in the safe return of the pupils, though the cleric had offered to negotiate with bandits for the release of the pupils.

Sani said: “All those speculations you are hearing today are figment of some people’s imagination. I can tell you that without any fear of contradiction. There was nothing like Gumi in this operation. I can tell you. I won’t undermine the efforts of our Armed Forces.”

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